College Chaplain Reflection – October 20, 2016

October 19, 2016

We all know that person who harps on continually about that overseas trip they’ve just had-¦ even months after that fact. Well, I’m going to be that person. After all, we still have to get through a couple of the Pope’s homilies from World Youth Day in Krakow.

So, if you remember, we are up to the Vigil night. This is part of the big camp out in preparation for the main mass with the Pope on the Sunday. If you can imagine; some two million odd pilgrims, exhausted from a twenty odd kilometre walk out to the quarry where we were to camp out in. Tired, smelly and far from comfortable. It doesn’t maybe sound like a great recipe for reverence, but remarkably that is exactly how it pans out, every time, without fail.

The Pope’s homily at the Vigil is often the longest of the trip. As he spoke, he again took up the theme of compassion and our call to reach out in love to those who are suffering. Given its length, I won’t cover the whole talk, but will just focus on the quote from the night which has been most repeated; his call for us to untiringly reach out in love, to risk and overcome our fears, to overcome too that paralysis that can engulf us, his call for us to get off the couch.

-But in life there is another, even more dangerous, kind of paralysis.- It is not easy to put our finger on it.- I like to describe it as the paralysis that comes from confusing happiness with a sofa-¦ A sofa that makes us feel comfortable, calm, safe-¦ A sofa that keeps us safe from any kind of pain and fear.-

Pope Francis is certainly one who likes to pick out vivid images. We must however be careful here to actually listen to what he is trying to say. He is not advocating a type of blind activism. Kennedy’s message of -Don’t think, don’t hope, do! Do something!- is a good one, but it isn’t quite what the Pope is on about. Rather, he is warning us not to numb ourselves with comforts, to withdraw from the drama of life so that we might shield ourselves from trouble or hurt. Instead, he wants us to be free from the self-isolating lethargy that prevents us from reaching out in love, free from the lie that happiness is found not in living relationships but in unrestrained consumption. Jesus points us to the true way. To live is to risk in love, to make of ourselves a gift.

– -My friends, Jesus is the Lord of risk, he is the Lord of the eternal -more-.- Jesus is not the Lord of comfort, security and ease.- Following Jesus demands a good dose of courage, a readiness to trade in the sofa for a pair of walking shoes and to set out on new and uncharted paths.- To blaze trails that open up new horizons capable of spreading joy, the joy that is born of God’s love and wells up in your hearts with every act of mercy.- To take the path of the -craziness- of our God, who teaches us to encounter him in the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the sick, the friend in trouble, the prisoner, the refugee and the migrant, and our neighbours who feel abandoned-¦ In all the settings in which you find yourselves, God’s love invites you bring the Good News, making of your own lives a gift to him and to others.- This means being courageous, this means being free!-