TUESDAYS WITH TERESA: Do all the good you can

Last week I shared with you a number of links for your consideration, in the hope of providing us with what we need to be consider when giving voice to our vote in the upcoming Federal election, and that could be of benefit for the whole community.

So while preparing for this week’s message, I was reminded of a conversation I had a few weeks ago, with Sr Patricia Egan, who attended Milton Morris’ Memorial Service on 13 April. Milton Morris died on 27 February at the age of 94.

Milton Morris was the former Member for Maitland, Minister for Transport and Hunter Valley Training Company Chairman. He was remembered as a man of integrity, who left an indelible mark on his community and country. I like the fact that he was affectionately known as ‘Mr Maitland’ - what a tribute to a man who gave his all for the community that he loved and called home. He was responsible for introducing many of today's road safety measures, including the compulsory wearing of seat belts, the breathalyser and radar speed cameras. Consequently, he has helped save lives and he has helped to educate thousands of apprentices.

His daughter Colleen Gale said, "He took the side of the disadvantaged and marginalised. He showed us, his family, the importance of valuing and respecting people of all standing… He was someone who had the profound ability to make people feel valued, heard and engaged."

Patricia shared with me the following words attributed to Milton Morris:

Do all the good you can;
By all the means you can;
In all the places you can;
At all the times you can;
To all the people you can;
As long as ever you can.

See the opportunity in every difficulty. Don’t be paralysed by a difficulty.

Clearly, Milton Morris, a family man, politician, Baptist Pastor and chairman, was a man committed to the community and is being remembered as inspirational for his understanding, commitment, compassion and desire to serve.

This remembering fits in well with the Gospel reading for the weekend in which Jesus appears to his disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, after they had been fishing all night and had caught nothing. Upon his request, they once again cast their nets and their catch at dawn is plentiful. Jesus then invites them to share a meal with him, indeed it sounds like a beach barbeque! We then hear these words from John’s Gospel (21:15-19):

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?" Simon Peter answered him, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my lambs." He then said to Simon Peter a second time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Simon Peter answered him, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Tend my sheep." Jesus said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Peter was distressed that Jesus had said to him a third time, "Do you love me?" and he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep. Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go." He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when he had said this, he said to him, "Follow me."

Sharing Eucharist at the table of the Lord obviously comes with a great price. We are invited to follow and to:

  • Feed God’s lambs
  • Tend God’s sheep
  • Feed God’s sheep

I was reminded of this command, at the Ecumenical and Interfaith morning tea, and the Memorial Mass for the people affected by the tragedy in Sri Lanka, both community gatherings being held last Thursday.

The gatherings served to remind us of our common humanity, particularly as people of faith. In my welcome to those who came along to the morning tea, I said:

As people of faith, we have so much in common:

  • We long for a deeper purpose to our lives
  • We believe in a God who is all knowing, loving, forgiving, gracious, merciful, holy, creator, just, wise, kind, and steadfast
  • We have a desire for the world to be a more just and peaceful place
  • We gather in community for prayer, worship and teachings
  • We are guided by our beliefs
  • We care and show charity for our fellow human beings
  • We give generously because God has provided

Then at the Memorial Mass, Fr Joseph Figurado spoke with deep emotion the following words:

In Sri Lanka, Christians co-exist peacefully with the Buddhist majority, Hindus and Muslims.

Each one of us has been extended beyond what we have thought possible.

We are tired, the strains and pains still shows on our faces and in our eyes.

The hurt and shock... is deep in our lives, it has displaced our sense of order, it has disrupted our routines, it has changed our plans, it has altered our future and it has challenged our understanding of right and wrong and of good and evil.

Perhaps the best way to deal with the silence of the hurt and of the shock is to seek refuge and strength from God and from each other - for all of us to unite, for all of us to stand together with the aim of healing.

I recall him saying more than once that our response to the many questions as to ‘why’ is to stand in silence. And that is what we did as we lit candles and processed with them, placing them on the space set up in front of the altar.

In bringing this week’s message to a close, I share with you once again the words of Milton Morris:

Do all the good you can;
By all the means you can;
In all the places you can;
At all the times you can;
To all the people you can;
As long as ever you can.

See the opportunity in every difficulty. Don’t be paralysed by a difficulty.

My hope is we are able to live with the same passion and commitment as Milton Morris.

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Teresa Brierley Image
Teresa Brierley

Teresa Brierley is the Vice Chancellor Pastoral Ministries of the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.