Here we are already at the end of January 2017. What an eventful January it has been all around the world. Even now, we are still reeling from the events of last Friday week in Melbourne. However, I was greatly encouraged by the compassion and readiness to help of many passers-by. Like you may be, I am full of questions about how this terrible tragedy could have been circumvented. They are questions which must be answered in the months to come, as the stories begin to be unraveled. In the meantime, we are left to pick up the pieces, and there are still many people in hospital, whose lives have been irrevocably changed. Indeed, some would say all our lives have been changed.
On Thursday it was Australia Day. For some, it is a day for barbeques, and getting together with friends or family. For others, it is a day which they might call “Invasion Day”. Our Indigenous people often see it as a day which began their terrible dispossession from their land. How do you feel about it? I think there is room for both: the honouring of our belonging to a great country – and the remembrance of the hurts of a shameful past. Perhaps the time is well overdue to change the dates, and enable both to be commemorated well, without confusion?
The readings set for today give us a remarkable opportunity to reflect on our calling as disciples of Jesus. Last week, we heard about the way Jesus called his first disciples from their fishing boats and nets, and inspired them to see their lives in a new way – a new context. Because he would make them fish for people.
The Gospel reading is the passage from Matthew which is called “The Beatitudes”. In these statements of blessedness, Jesus proceeds to overturn our expectations and assumptions dramatically. Each one is worthy of deep reflection. How might the poor in spirit inherit the Kingdom? How might the mourning be comforted? Everything has been turned inside out and upside down.
But St. Paul, in our reading from his first letter to the church in Corinth, says that that is the whole point about our faith – its central belief is the power of the cross. What a strange thing!
“For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.”
How can a human being, helpless, tortured and killed on a cross, be one of the most powerful symbols in all history? Perhaps partly because he was also the one who taught such strangely cross-cultural concepts? Much to think and ponder about as we enter February.
God bless you
29 January 2017