Reflections 8th October 2017

A Reflection for the Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mt: 21:33-43 ( )

In reading Spiritan papers, I’ve discovered that both Spiritan founders, Francis Libermann and Claude Poullart des Places, recognised that, even when we strive to do good, our motivation can often be self-interest. They encourage us all to transform this way of thinking. 

Through a life-long pilgrimage of prayer, mission and formal learning, both founders discovered a God who created and loved them as His children. If we take this pilgrimage to seek a better understanding of life, God and faith, we become ‘people on mission’.  This means being willing to change the focus from ourselves to others, from thinking independently of others to thinking inter-dependently with –  and being interested in – others. While working with other people, I stop worrying about how my input is received or how much I am noticed, and concentrate on helping each person on the team do his or her best.

In life, we make judgements. As I walk, I often meet people who are drunk or behaving badly. Our charism calls on us to reflect on such experiences. Rather than being irritated, maybe I should wonder what triggered it: A sick child? Job loss? Relationship problems?

Being on mission will always be a challenge, because we are conditioned from an early age to focus on “me and mine.”  In today’s education experience, we focus on success, achieving the best and fulfilling potential, and are encouraged to sacrifice generosity on the way.

In today’s media we are encouraged to see the world as a dangerous place, to see many people, many cultures as ‘different’ and to believe that there is never enough of anything to go around so we conclude that our security is more important.  On reflection, we realise that our security and environment are only achievable when both these interests are engaged.

Jesus requires that we resist this way of being in the world. He asks that, rather than growing fearful, we try to be open. Our Spiritan values call us to be open to the Spirit.   Libermann (Anth. pp 119 – 120) asks us to open to the Holy Spirit and to trust where that may take us.

“The wind blows where it pleases; you hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. That is how it is with all who are born of the Spirit” (Jn. 3:8). So it is with those born of the Holy Spirit. The divine Spirit blows where he wills. The will of my Father determines his divine breath. ….. But the divine Spirit draws this life from himself and breathes where he wants to establish it, even in the mire and dirt of your evil nature, dead and destitute of everything. Secondly, those who receive this new birth do not see the divine Spirit coming; they recognise him only through the effects they experience in their souls, which become completely changed…… They do not know whence he has come nor where he is going; they do not see him either in his origin or in his end.                                                  

Our mission life encourages us all to widen the reality of God’s love to the stranger.  In our Spiritan founders, Des Places and Libermann, we have two lives that offer us an example.

Mr. Ronan Barry – Ronan works with the Identity, Faith & Mission Office attached to Spiritan schools in Ireland. His areas of involvement include engagement with school charities, ethos development, pastoral care, religious education and sacramental preparation.