April 30, 2010
There are two diametrically opposed ways of looking at work: it can be seen as a curse or as co-creation with God. Both views are present in the Bible but the general thrust of the Church’s teaching is the latter. Through work we share in the creative action of God. Tomorrow, May day, we celebrate the feast of St. Joseph the worker.
We know from the gospels that Joseph was a carpenter – indeed Jesus is identified by Joseph’s trade on a few occasions. This was, and is, skilled work that needed a variety of talents. Working with natural materials the carpenter can bring useful and beautiful things into being. And that should be how we see our work – whatever we do for a living.
Work properly approached and freely undertaken can lead us to God as we realise our part in his creative action, as we undertake tasks that are useful to others, and in the words of Mother Teresa, make something beautiful for God. Work becomes a curse when we make it an idol or the only thing that matters in our lives. It also becomes a curse when men and women are defrauded of their just wages, and against that sin the Church’s voice needs to be raised loud and clear.
May St. Joseph pray for us that we through our work as educators may bring many children and young people to God.
April 26, 2010
We have four gospels that the Church tells us are authentic records of the doings and sayings of Christ. Other gospels exist (such as the ones that I suspect Pullman bases his latest book on) but the Church has always ruled them out as inauthentic and misleading. One of the authentic gospels is that written by the saint we celebrate on Sunday, Mark.
Mark’s gospel is the plainest of the four. He is no great stylist, and the language he uses is stark and simple. He is also not flattering to the apostles who are depicted as slow on the uptake and slow to believe. The core of Mark’s message is the same as the other gospel writers however. Jesus is the one sent by God, who was crucified and is now risen from the dead. Through him we are saved.
What is startling when we read all the gospels together is not that they are different in style and tell the story in different ways but rather the story they tell. They are convinced, as Mark states in his opening lines, that here is good news. Our task is to put that good news on the page into practice in our lives. The world has grown tired and cynical about preachers and teachers but the people of our generation will be convinced when they see us living out the good news in our lives.
April 19, 2010
The ‘Slow Food’ movement is gathering momentum, if you’ll pardon the oxymoron, because more and more people are realising the need to spend time if meals are to be enjoyed rather than endured. The same is true of good art, literature, and all sorts of other pursuits. This runs contrary to so much of the practice of our modern society which is constantly looking for the next new thrill. Some things just need to be down slowly so that they can be fully appreciated.
The Church has always known this. While the shops sell their discounted Easter eggs and are desperate to get us to plan our summer holidays, the Church’s celebration has only just begun – and will last for seven whole weeks. The resurrection is of such central importance that for nearly two months the Church contemplates Jesus’ rising in all her celebrations of Mass, the office, and the sacraments.
Over the next few weeks the readings and prayers at Mass aim to bring out the import and implications of Easter. Because this event is not just something in the past, though it is rooted in history, but very much the present power behind the Church’s mission to proclaim and practice the good news. And the season ends not in a whimper but in the Big Bang of Pentecost when we celebrate the giving of the Spirit. So, let’s take part in the Church’s ‘slow movement’ this Eastertide and spend our time constructively and fruitfully.