A Catholic Monthly Magazine

Inklings of Hope

Fr Kevin Bates sm

As we tune in to our newsfeed each day, we cannot help but be struck by the moral malaise that permeates much of our public conversation and political processes, both locally and beyond our shores. We are at the same time confronted by the failures and diminishment of the Church, which appears in a number of forms.

There is the fact that organised religion in general, and the Church in particular, is seen by many people, both young and older, as having nothing of value to offer them. The Church may be viewed as a quaint irrelevant historical relic and is seen sometimes as a home for those who can’t think for themselves!

There is the obvious loss of credibility brought about by the sexual abuse crisis and this will continue beyond this generation as a wound in the Church’s heart that cries out for justice and mercy.

Some people within various political parties are dismayed and discouraged by the performance of their own colleagues. People in the Church likewise sometimes lose heart.

Some people in the Church who remember ‘how great it used to be once,’ either try to re-create what was, or expend great energy criticising the present state of affairs and then jumping ship. In these discussions, Catholic Schools, among others, come in for a fair old belting.

In the face of this civil and religious malaise, we could well believe that there is no hope for the human family, and no real role of worth for people of faith.

It’s then that our attention is grabbed by the faith of a dying woman who is still full of love for life and who is facing her death with grace and trust. Then there are those in our community who are reaching out and nourishing disadvantaged young people. There are parishioners bringing a word of comfort and joy as they visit the elderly and housebound.

We are privileged to glimpse into the lives of dedicated parents raising their children with purpose and deep faith. For them there is no loss of hope. For them the beauty of life, the Good News of Jesus, the community of believers are a constant source of nourishment and joy.

Many teachers in our schools are on the front line of the Church’s mission of evangelisation and put some of us to shame with their dedication, their expertise, knowledge and passion for the young ones in their care, and for the Gospel.

Recently I was part of a panel interviewing for positions at one of our Catholic Colleges. Uniformly, the young teachers presenting for the interviews displayed a depth of understanding, commitment, prayerfulness and joy in their faith that was at once moving and inspiring. It was a privilege to meet and hear them.

How often do we hear of, or are part of communities, small neighbourly ones and larger suburban ones, in which people rally around when families are struck down by illness, death or misadventure?

... dedicated parents raising their children with ... deep faith

When we feel dismayed at the state of our politics, the corruption in so many sectors of the community, the violence that plays out on our TV screens each day, it’s worth stepping back to appreciate that there is more to us than the chaos, prejudice and violence that feeds our news services.

While we own and reflect on this broken part of our human family, there is an abundance of grace and beauty in those around us and in the heart of our believing community and beyond that community, more than enough to inspire and encourage us.

Jesus, in rising from the dead, catches up the whole human drama and calls every part of our creation to join him in the new life of his resurrection. He seems to think that nothing is beyond the reach of love.

Rising with him in that belief has got to be our better option!

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