In recent years I have marvelled at the steady emergence of the new Christchurch western transport corridor bypass, a key stage of the unfolding city motorway network.
Before the first turf was turned on the project, years of planning had drawn on the best of traffic analysis, roading advice and bridge design, engineering and earth moving techniques to ensure that each stage of the project unfolded safely in its turn to produce the masterwork that opens to travellers these days.
As I was driving along the newly opened Belfast section of the motorway this morning on my way to the inaugural Catholic Business Network lunch, I considered the roading project as a powerful metaphor for the establishment of the Christchurch Catholic Business Network.
The metaphor is no stretch since networking and journeying are the heart of both business and church life.
The roading project with its motorway lanes, roundabouts, bridges, entrances and exits seeks to provide a network of transport with the primary aim of making it easier, faster and safer for people to connect with each other.
Travel is at the heart of daily human life and therefore of Christian life and imagery.
We Christians are travellers, and we are networkers.
The first people of God journeyed over desert and across and even through turbulent seas to reach the land of promise.
Mary and Joseph were travelling at the time of Jesus birth, and as an adult Jesus constantly journeyed the primitive roads of his native land.
Christians speak about the human journey of life to God, and our road through this life has all the ups and downs of any modern road or air travel network.
The bridge is also a powerful metaphor. When a roadway is no longer sufficient because of a river or chasm, a bridge picks up the connection. It is no coincidence that one of the titles of a pope is “Pontifex” or “bridge-builder.” It’s even the pope’s Twitter handle! When a roading network seems to reach an impasse, a bridge is needed to transcend all apparent limitations and obstacles.
roadways & bridge-building
Catholic bridge-builders will be the leaders of a new Catholic era. Too often in centuries past opposing religious zealots have shouted their views at each other from opposite sides of the chasm that divides them. In recent decades a new era of dialogue has begun.
It’s not enough to think of this mission as that of a physical road and bridge-builder. The Romans were great road-builders. However they were an obstacle to the growth and freedom of the followers of Jesus.
Today the roads of the once powerful Roman Empire lie in ruins with only a few cobbled pavements remaining. In contrast, first Christians who sought to communicate relationship with Jesus Christ as the heart of all human existence have created pathways and networks across continents and oceans, even here to the ends of the earth in Canterbury, Westland and Chatham Islands.
without compromising what is essential
A building project whether it be roading, church-building or the building of family or diocesan life cannot compromise anything that is essential. To do this risks life and after detours and delays will always result in tragedy.
We learn this from our ancestors who opened new paths of faith between diverse people of many cultures. Boundaries were transcended as former foes in war became friends in faith. We are grateful to family and friends who were examples of the beauty and power of Catholic faith for us. Among these friends are saints, many of whom were married and strove for success in the business world.
a new era of partnership
The design of the new Christchurch airport Memorial Gateway symbolises the power of the Southern Alps, the braided Canterbury rivers and the crossing over of cultures entering our the city. These visible signs symbolise a new era in the life of our city.
This new era of partnership between the Catholic Business community and those in leadership in the diocese is both timely and welcome.
This is an opportunity for us to work together as a Catholic community of the Christchurch diocese, using our diverse experience and wealth of talent within the Church for the glory of God.