Sunday, 23 November 2008

Open territory

I look forward to watching, perhaps this week, the new epic film "Australia". The pundits are all saying that it will be a massive hit - and, I have to say, the trailers for the film are very promising. The film is being hailed as a re-presentation of the essence of this country and continent to both those at home and abroad. Modern Australia is still emerging - it is, in comparison to the Western world, a very new nation. The Church too has been conscious of this and World Youth Day is more than a sign of her Mission here. John Paul II came twice to Australia and placed great emphasis on this country in his 2001 Exhortation to the Church in Oceania. I have read this Letter twice seen coming to Sydney and have been enriched in my understanding of the New Evangelisation, especially in terms of the influnce of the Gospel upon culture, and consequently, it has given me a real insight into this land and its history.
At the beginning of this Letter, John Paul II makes a reflection on the mystery of the life of the disciple - for this is the hinge of evangelisation - the Mission of the Church has to begin somewhere, and that place is within the person. The disciples of Christ "are invited to leave all, to turn to him who is the Lord of life, and follow him. They are to leave not only sinful ways, but also sterile ways of a certain manner of thinking and acting, in order to take the path of an ever deeper faith and follow the Lord with ever greater fidelity." The impact of grace must first happen inside those who follow Him if they are to be in a position to be evangelisers themselves. "When we walk with the Lord, we leave with him all our burdens, and this confers the strength to accomplish the mission he gives us. He who takes from us gives to us; he takes upon himself our weakness and gives us his strength. This is the great mystery of the life of the disciple and apostle. It is certain that Christ works with us and within us as we "put out into deeper waters", as now we must. When times are difficult and unpromising, the Lord himself urges us "to cast our nets once more". We must not disobey."
I see contained in this short reflection a synthesis of the life of the Church and the lived wisdom of evangelisation down through the ages, which is, in fact, a re-presentation of the call to evangelise. To show the difference and the enrichment which knowing Christ has made to me, and that the focus and the priority of the Church is evangelisation. Being a Catholic today does not mean waiting around for something to happen, nor even trying to make something happen ourselves. It consists in actively following Christ and that what flows out of this is evangelisation. My life is the tool He wishes to use. And here lies the first stage of openness to grace - being with Him and experiencing His person. Since He is here, this is an immediate possibility.
Do pray for Australia at this time - that the work of the Holy Spirit here, before, during and since WYD will continue building relationships with Christ.

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