At a recent PD for teachers in Catholic Education which I was privileged to attend being school chaplain, Jesuit priest Fr Richard Leonard said in unequivocal terms, “We’re on about Jesus! He is our cornerstone.” That statement set the tone of the whole exercise and quite surprisingly, it was well received by most, if not by all who attended, Catholic or otherwise. But how much of that inspiring talk is absorbed by the listener and flows into daily life is another story.
When the Bishops of Australia launched the Year of Grace on Pentecost Sunday, it was the same message they tried to communicate, “We’re on about Jesus!” Spirit-filled, we confidently embarked on the path of grace by starting afresh from Christ.
Many questions surfaced as I pondered on the call to start afresh from Christ. This theme is as captivating as it is challenging; it appeals to both the head and the heart. What am I being asked to do right here, right now? What loving response can I offer that mirrors Christ to my neighbour?
Personally, I am challenged to remember Christ in a new way. This means that I clear out from my memory bank images of Jesus that do more harm than good in my relationship with him and with others. Hence, out with the “meek and mild Jesus who would never hurt a flea” and in with the Jesus who turns my little world upside down. It’s not as easy as it sounds. It’s far more complex than simply abandoning one image for another.
My image of Jesus is not an outside physical image, but an image from within that my heart more than my head says about him. I am not “sentimentalising” Jesus Christ. I have come to understand, but not without any interior struggle, that it is in seeking his Divine Grace in life’s ebb and flow - in hurts and pains, in failure and defeat, and not just my own but those of others, too, as I put myself in their shoes, that I encounter him experientially. Whenever I recall those moments I feel renewed relationally. I remember him anew; I learn from him. My image of him, better yet, my vision of him enlarges. And I am revitalised inside out.
We’re on about Jesus. What’s more important is that Jesus is on about us. St. Paul writes to Timothy, “Remember the Good News...” (2 Timothy 2:8) and recommends that people be reminded about what Christ did, does, and will continue to do for us.
We welcome the Year of Grace as a call to keep the memory of Christ alive both in our public and private lives. By not falling into spiritual amnesia we bring his hope to a world that needs him now more than ever.