Dear Passionist Family Groups members and friends,
This past week I have been to Nelson, Moteuka and departed before the Omicron was announced as active and I moved onto Christchurch and then travelled to Ashburton, Dunedin and Invercargill and meet with PFG’s parish and groups coordinators. On my way back from Invercargill to Christchurch I decided a stop at Lake Tekapo. I chose this way back to Christchurch as the scenery is second to none and it was just a joy. Mind you eight and a half hours later I was glad to be out of the seat.
This scenery brought back many memories for me and was also a time to reflect on the visits to various PFG parishes down south. It is always humbling, listening to the work put in by individuals as well as understanding the frustrations and obstacles that each place is encountering.
Covid has made an impact with our PFG’s all around the country and we have seen the ongoing psychological, emotional and day to day effects of living through this pandemic. Like all things when times are tough we have as human tendency to withdraw and our fear has a certain way of encouraging this. Mind you, this fear is real as is, our response to it. All around us on a daily basis is a media seeking to sensationalise the pandemic and then, they set about throwing every view possible which tends to polarise people.
In the New Testament the phrase “do not be afraid” or something similar appears 44 times. So outr forbears understood the importance of acknowledging what was before them and moved forward knowing this. Fear,. has a great way of stopping people in their tracks and sometimes to the effect that people live as if they have concrete shoes on. They won’t go out, they won’t visit, then, it moves to, I won’t ring anyone and so forth. Their life, sort of stops and loneliness, creeps in and devours them.
“Courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” Nelson Mandela
Jesus was very attentive to the troubles people faced and was always encouraging them to come out of themselves. It was a calling forth to bring themselves to their God despite what was going on or what was happening to them. This I think from my listening and travelling around PFG’s we need to bring a little faith and trust into our circles. I believe, despite the fear, we could overcome being overwhelmed by going out to others via the little ways. Yes, the virus limits a lot of what we could normally do but, it does not and should not stop us from ‘connecting’ with one another.
Our ‘connecting’ will keep our Passionist Family Group sconnected to its aims and goals as well as supporting each other. It is a email to one of the group members, sharing a story or piece of interest; it could be a phone call one to each member of the group per day; it could be a Zoom to the group with some associated task or just a chat with a cuppa in hand; in doing this the threat or fear of the unvaccinated is no longer there and we are continuing to just be what we wanted out of Passionist Family Groups – ‘a family for all’.
So, while we await to see what effect Omicron will have, let us change tack now and be proactive in our groups. Contact and connect with your Passionist Family Group members; your relations and friends. There is no age limit to this action we can all do it. If you need a hand or assistance then let people know someone will be able to shop for you or get supplies to you. We know we are going through a tough time as are most countries so, like a good batsman, get on the front foot and play your shots.
You have been great over many years and I marvel at the stories of love and compassion that have been generated. We are now in another time where I believe Passionist Family Groups have a definite place for being church and building community. We need hope and in connecting with others and supporting, caring and serving others we move out and seek to show the love and faith that comes from ‘being for others’.
“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” Lao Tzu
So, ‘do not be afraid’, put your trust in God and each other for God dwells there too. You have everything within you and all we need is to empower each other to serve in the little ways – just connect in whatever way you can and celebrate the joy that comes from being for one another.
“Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones; and when you have laboriously accomplished your daily task, go to sleep in peace.” Victor Hugo
Have a good week and thanks to all those I have meet with this past week for your openness, honesty and good work. I deeply appreciate your generosity, hospitality and friendship.
Blessing and thanks,
Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C, 30 January 2022
First reading: Jeremiah 1:4-5, 17-19
Responsorial psalm: Ps 70(71):1-6, 15, 17
Second reading: 1 Corinthians 12:31 – 13:13
Gospel: Luke 4:21-30
Link to readings – click here
Following Jesus’ own use of words from the prophet of Isaiah in last week’s Gospel, the readings for this Sunday bring us to consider the rejection faced by God’s prophets. It also highlighted the nature and action points of Jesus Mission. But we also receive words we can rely on, words of love and trust.
God’s words to Jeremiah, in the First Reading, confirm him in his calling, and reassure him that despite trials he will never be abandoned. The Psalmist sings of God’s help, justice, strength and dependency. From his youth God has never failed him. The Second Reading is Paul’s beautiful hymn to love in the letter to the Corinthians. Love is the only true way of life which sustains us whatever happens.
In the Gospel, the people of Nazareth react to Jesus’s challenging words with anger and some even try to kill him. Early on in Luke’s Gospel we see Jesus reaching out to outsiders, and in his rejection the cross is already present. Perhaps this week we may pray for the gift of trust in God’s love that conquers all things.
- “A skeleton walks into a bar and says, ‘Hey, bartender. I’ll have one beer and a mop.'”
- “Where do fruits go on vacation?” “Pear-is!”
- “I asked my dog what’s two minus two. He said nothing.”
- “What did Baby Corn say to Mama Corn?” “Where’s Pop Corn?”
- “What’s the best thing about Switzerland?” “I don’t know, but the flag is a big plus.”
- “What does a sprinter eat before a race?” “Nothing, they fast!”
- “Where do you learn to make a banana split?” “Sundae school.”
- “What has more letters than the alphabet?” “The post office!”
- “Dad, did you get a haircut?” “No, I got them all cut!”
- “What do you call a poor Santa Claus?” “St. Nickel-less.”
Have a great week – keep safe and keep connecting.