Newsletter 13th February 2022
Today in the Sunday Gospel Reading at Mass we hear dramatic and challenging words from Jesus found within the “Beatitudes.” We are reminded that if we look for spiritual strength, eternal life, inner healing, full happiness in the wealth we have, we shall be disappointed. Wealth does not insure happiness, a faithful marriage or spiritual vitality. If we look for spiritual strength, eternal life, deep fulfilment in popularity, that doesn’t work either, as people are often fickle. If we look for the truth about ourselves in the health and happiness of the moment, we can deceive ourselves. That bubble can burst so easily. The reason Jesus speaks “woe” to the rich, the contented, the popular is that we can deceive ourselves and not go any deeper than these things.
On the other hand, when we face poverty, need, grief and unpopularity, illusions tend to evaporate quickly. For all of us who have known grief, we know that tragedy can be like a spiritual eye opener. It opens us to the deep waters of God’s life, God’s will, God’s grace. When people lose their homes in natural disasters, their grieving over the loss is helped by the realisation that they still often have their family. When people are told that they must evacuate their homes, the items they usually take are small articles of remembrance about family and loved ones as they leave everything else behind.
When things break apart, we discover the truth of human life, that our real anchor hold is not the material but the spiritual. Through these “Blessings” and “Woes” Jesus is teaching us to look at what really nourishes our souls what is truly “life giving”. Do we draw our self-worth, our identity, and our purpose in life from the surface or the stream?
It is a characteristic of many adolescents that their sense of identity comes from the outside. If friends say they are a failure, they feel they are a failure. If their friends consider them a success, they feel they are a success. Only as we mature, do we hopefully acquire a stable sense of who we are and eventually come to understand that we don’t depend on what people say. We know our value is truly rooted in our human dignity and in our Christian Baptism We know what we are worth not from the crowd but from the Cross.
What nourishes our life? Is it the sand or the stream? If we are aware of deep needs in our life, there is a blessing in that. We will not be easily fooled by surface attractions. If we have everything going well in our life, there is a danger, a “woe,” in that, because we can so easily forget the place of God in our life.
Then we hear again the words of Jeremiah in the First Reading at Mass this Sunday: “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose hope is the Lord. He is like a tree planted beside waters that stretches out its roots to the stream; it fears not the heat when it comes, its leaves stay green; In the year of drought, it shows no distress, but still bears fruit.”
What nourishes our life? Is it the sand or the stream? Lent is just around the corner. In these few weeks before Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent it’s a good time for each of us to reflect upon where we draw strength from in our lives, to reflect more deeply upon our faith, upon our relationship with God and with one another. A good time to sink our roots into the deep, clear waters of God’s life and to renew our lives in God’s Love, Mercy and Truth.
With prayer and best wishes for the coming week ahead,
Your parish priest and friend,
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