surely not ?

Mar 16, 2024


“…some said, ‘He is the Christ’,
but others said,
‘Would the Christ be from Galilee? …
So the people could not agree about him…
see for yourself:
prophets do not come out of Galilee.’   John 7


As I mentioned a couple of days ago I am in Melbourne this week for a retreat with the Little Sisters of the Poor. They are an inspiring group, committed to working for the poor elderly.

I first met the Little Sisters when I was a first-year seminarian at Holy Cross in Mosgiel, For our first year of formation, every Tuesday, we would spend the day working at the Little Sisters’ Brockville home. I have many very good memories.

In my homily today I shared with the sisters the old story of the monastery of monks who began to experience tension in their community. They prayed about their difficulty, and each monk met with the Abbot in effort to resolve the difficulties. Finally, when all their efforts seemed to bear no fruit the Abbot consulted the holy hermit who lived over the hill inviting him to live at the monastery for a few days to see if he could pinpoint the problem.

When the time came for the holy hermit to leave the monastery he met with the Abbot to present his findings.

“So”, asked the Abbot, “what advice have you to offer us”?

The holy hermit looked directly at the Abbot and confidently replied: “the Messiah is living in your monastery.”

Later in the day the Abbot met with the monks of the community. “What did the holy man say?” the monks asked their Abbot. “What was his advice?”

“The wise man said that the Messiah is living in our monastery” reported the Abbot. “He says that one of us is the Messiah.”

The monks were stunned. How could Jesus be living among them? Which one of their number was Jesus?

Was it Brother Alfred, maybe Brother Ignatius, or Brother Stan?

Over the next few days and into the future, every moment and in every word, thought and action, the monks lived with a deep sensitivity to the possibility that the monk who was annoying them was Jesus, and very quickly their community was transformed. Every tension evaporated quickly. Love became their way.

Perhaps our problem in our communities is that we don’t believe that Jesus is actually alive and present, among us, in our friends, enemies, families, workmates, and even in the strangers we encounter on the street or at the supermarket.

“Prophets do not come out of Galilee!” Ah, no, Prophets are everywhere. Jesus Christ is everywhere and in everyone.

Perhaps it’s easy to believe in a Messiah as long as he lived far away and long ago, a God who dwells in distant heavens and who doesn’t interrupt my life with divine love and mercy, constantly nudging me towards abundant life?

A Christian understands that Jesus risen is present today, here and now, where I am.

I’m reading an inspiring book this week by Mons. Thomas Halik who visited New Zealand recently. Half way through his book The Afternoon of Christianity (which I thoroughly recommend to anyone who is seeking greater maturity of Christian faith) Halik writes:

“Our life and the history of the Church is an adventure of searching for the hidden Christ. Let us not close our ears to the cries of the suffering, the exploited, and the persecuted, let us not close our eyes to the wounds and pains of our world, let us not close our hearts to the poor and the marginalised – we might miss the voice of Jesus in them. We might miss Jesus in them.”



If you missed yesterday’s post with an update on my Sabbatical Leave, you might like to catch up at this link.



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

Monday 18 March 2024 10.00am (& every Monday). Moku Cafe. Bush Inn Centre, Waimairi Road,  Christchurch. Trish

Wednesday 20 March 2024 10.00am Bellbird Eatery at the Dowse, 45 Laings Road, Lower Hutt. Catherine

Email me to add another:

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



  1. We had an enjoyable time at the Devon on Monday, where five of us gathered. Jesus turned up.

  2. I wonder who coined the term ‘ Alter Christus’ ( The other Christ ) Its a good one to bear in mind with whoever we meet each day!

  3. John, we are also in Melbourne to help over the school holidays. I have just read about your Sabbatical. It is amazing where you find ex-Catholics. Some years ago a friend of mine, bought up a Catholic and died at a Hare Krishna farm in Motueka. I went down for the funeral. When I let it be known I was a Catholic I was surprised at the number of ex-Catholics in such a small community, four in all.

    • Thankyou. I enjoy meeting and speaking to Jesus everyday in all his varied disguises. Amen!


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