TUESDAYS WITH TERESA: Love your enemies

Over the past couple of weeks, I have managed to catch some of the highlights of the Winter Olympics. I have marvelled at the ability of humans to train and achieve such excellence in what seems to me dangerous pursuits. Almost all things on ice and snow seem to be accompanied by high speed and incredible grace.

As a species, humans are totally amazing, not only because of what they are able to achieve but also because their achievements provide entertainment and as sense of awe for other humans. I also delighted when the athletes shared with their competitors their successes in achieving greatness. I think we have so much to learn from the spirit of the Olympics:

The goal of the Olympic Movement is to contribute to building a peaceful and better world by educating youth through sport practised without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.

This is the backdrop in which I listened to the Gospel from Luke (6:27-38) being proclaimed at Mass on Sunday. The key message is ‘love your enemies’. In the first few weeks of Ordinary Time for Year C, we encounter Jesus calling his disciples to follow him. Since last week, Jesus begins his teaching ministry to them. And this week’s reading is a really tough one to get our head around, especially to those disciples who really listen:

Be compassionate as your Father is compassionate. Do not judge, and you will not be judged yourselves; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned yourselves; grant pardon, and you will be pardoned. Give, and there will be gifts for you: a full measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will be poured into your lap; because the amount you measure out is the amount you will be given back.

So, in watching the Olympics, we have been able to see this message in action. While listening to the words being proclaimed, I thought of examples of those around us who attempt to live out this life of goodness and compassion, and then of others who judge, condemn, and will not forgive. The latter creates division, mistrust and disharmony.

In this I am thinking about our own Synod, the Plenary Council and the Synod on Synodality. It seems that some people believe they are champions to be listened to and revered, and yet synodality calls us to mutual listening, respect and journeying with each other. In discovering together what the Spirit is saying, we are being asked to be patient and encounter the unfolding presence of the Spirit in and through each other, like the words from Luke’s gospel. Once again, the Olympic motto “Faster, Stronger, Higher” are echoing within me accompanied by the final phrase “Together”. This is the communio we yearn for.

During the week, we received word that the timeline for submissions to the Bishop’s Synod on Synodality – communion, participation, mission, has been extended from 27 February to 13 March. I know that many of you have contributed to listening experiences in your parishes, in our diocese and for the Plenary Council. I sense a weariness and despondency in not being heard or believing that it will not make any difference or impact.

However, once again I invite you to consider responding on the website https://www.catholic.org.au/synodalchurch to the following:

A synodal Church, in announcing the Gospel, “journeys together.”

How is this “journeying together” happening today in your local Church?

What steps does the Spirit invite us to take in order to grow in our “journeying together”?

During this change of an era, I believe Pope Francis is trying to measure the pulse of the Universal Catholic Church. Like Jesus, we are being invited to be countercultural and to live out the Good News of Jesus Christ beyond the walls of the church. Our church needs all of us to care and to be responsive

I also note that at this time next week, we will have marked Shrove Tuesday and be ready to enter Lent. I really hope you will engage with the Launch of Project Compassion Resources and are ready to join with others in our Diocesan Lenten Program https://www.mn.catholic.org.au/church-mission/catholic-life/liturgy/lent-2022/

Please invite others to register to receive Dio Update, by going to our diocesan website www.mn.catholic.org.au under the heading News & Events. This will keep them informed of the many events and stories coming from our many ministries. It is also good for people to read the Bulletin Notices when opening Dio Update, because they cover a range of activities which are not on the main page. I trust you realise that our diocesan information is found on MNnews.today.

I pray for our continued safety as we enter this next phase of living with and through a global pandemic.

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Teresa Brierley Image
Teresa Brierley

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