remotest people

Mar 26, 2024

.
Islands, listen to me,
pay attention, remotest peoples.
The Lord called me before I was born,
from my mother’s womb he pronounced my name. IS 49
REMOTE: (of a place) situated far from the main centres of population; distant. “the area is remote from the usual tourist routes”

I started to write today’s reflection early yesterday afternoon, sitting in my car, just before an afternoon retreat for the priests of the diocese. There were more than fifty of us present. Good company, and great conversations, even though we were invited to spend the afternoon in silence. We can’t help ourselves when we are together since the opportunity to enjoy the company of the brothers and catch up is too good to miss.

During the reflections shared by priest of the diocese Kevin Burns I couldn’t help but gaze around the group. Gaze was a word Kevin focussed on: to gaze as Jesus gazes, on ourselves, on the world, on our friends and on our enemies.

I gazed around our group. We are a diverse bunch covering the spectrum of theological perspectives, across a range of ages, with some gifts and abilities periodically breaking through our weaknesses and frailties.

I felt at home yesterday afternoon.

And then I realised that there were priests present who have served in every periphery of the diocese, and across the globe. Every day we are with people, Catholics, who see themselves as being on the periphery of the Church and therefore wrongly think they are distant from God. But our God is a God who in Jesus has visited (and is visiting) every periphery and every person who feels remote. No-one is remote from Jesus.

Then we celebrated the Sacrament of Reconciliation together, each of us confessing to one another.

We priests are at our best when we are humbly acknowledging our sin and neediness.

Then dinner together. Great company, a lot of laughter and I was especially grateful for the conversation at my own table.

The meal was too short since we had to make our way to the pro-Cathedral for the Chrism Mass. It was inspiring to arrive at the church to find it full of people there to support us as we renewed our priestly commitment.

I was especially inspired by the theme of the homily of Bishop Michael Gielen: God keeps his promises.

I mentioned above that at the Chrism Mass we priests renew our priestly commitment – but the real protagonist is not ourselves but God who has chosen us – from before our birth – the God who keeps his promises.

It’s now 10.30pm and before I go to bed I’m collecting my random and even peripheral thoughts of the day to form this post. I’m a bit too tired to say what I want to say well – the harder I try the more elusive the point is…

…Yes, God keeps his promises. Yes In Jesus God lives at and in the peripheries. And yes gratitude for the person I saw at the hospital this morning as they near the end of their life, for the new mother struggling with mental health issues who I spent time with early this afternoon – and who helped me to see the beauty of brokenness and dependance on Jesus, for Kevin’s retreat reflection, for my gentle confessor who spoke Jesus to my frailty, for the good company I had at dinner, for Michael’s homily, for all the people who gathered to pray for priests, and to the God who keeps his promises.

Thanks be to God.

+++

If you missed the update on my Sabbatical you can catch up at this link.

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Take an initiative and initiate a cafe gathering, or join these gatherings:

Thursday 28 March 2024 10.00am  Faith & Co, 213 Jackson St, Petone.  Kath

Monday 1 April 2024 10.00am (& every Monday). Moku Cafe. Bush Inn Centre, Waimairi Road,  Christchurch. Trish

Thursday 11 April 2024 10.00am (put the date in your diary) Stumble Inn, 200 Mangorei Road, New Plymouth. Joan

Email me to add another: john@fff.org.nz

After your gathering send a sentence or two about the encounter.

5 Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing with such honesty even though you were feeling weary. It is uplifting to hear as we come to the Triduum.

    Reply
  2. It was a privilege to be at the Chrism Mass, to see the witness, of our Priests, to Christ, the Anointed One of God, as described in Isaiah.
    To see the Sacramental oils blessed by our Bishop, knowing the hope and and promises it brings to each of us, as we receive the sacraments. God reaching out to us, through the Ministry of our Priests. Feeling grateful.

    Reply
  3. Is the focus of the Chrism Mass priesthood then if so, isn’t this Mass about the priesthood of the people of God rather than a select group of ordained male ministers?

    Reply
  4. Thankyou for your ‘openness” today which said much to me of your humility and gave me the impetus to
    think of my state in approaching/praying for forgiveness and humbleness as I journey into the very atmosphere of what Jesus suffered and died for. May I find Him waiting!

    Reply
  5. I too was a
    witness at the Chrism mass to pray for our
    Priests and to hear our
    Priests renewing their
    commitment to their
    vocation and the homily by our Bishop of encouragement in the
    words of Jesus to them. we are
    blessed to have
    Our dedicated
    Priests. !

    Reply

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