Broc’s Blog

birth of jesusWhile Christmas is the birthday of Jesus, that may or may not be what we are celebrating. In countries where Christian faith is the root of our culture, many who are no longer believers, no longer Christian, still celebrate Christmas.

Christmas tugs at the heart. It lures us into its spirit. What is it that draws us? Is it just memory, memory of childhood and Christmases past? Is it nostalgia for a world that once was but is no more? Why are presents and presence, giving gifts and being with others, being grateful and belonging so much part of this time of year?  Attending to what is going on in our minds and hearts, reflecting on what we are doing and why, is one of the most precious gifts of Christmas. Christmas invites us to listen.

AdventAs we begin a new Church year, the Gospel (Lk. 21: 25-28) of the First Sunday of Advent, curiously, presents vividly a picture of a world collapsing. Creation is falling apart.  The work of God’s creation is being undone. The lamps that hung in the sky to light the earth are sending out distress signals. The waters that had once covered the earth, that God siphoned off into seas, are returning. Human kind no longer has a place of safety and security and people are terrified by roar of collapse.  Whether collapse is cosmic, earthquakes, fires, floods, gales; social political or economic anarchy, threatening the social order, sickness and death of the collapse of our personally constructed worlds of meaning, collapse happens in the world we inhabit. Things fall apart and so do we. In a fragile, threatening world, how can we, vulnerable people, stand, endure and live?

If we give ourselves over totally to the physical, material and social world, we will collapse with them. There is, however, another dimension of ourselves not subject to collapse, a place to take a stand and endure, something not vulnerable to breakdown? We need to discover that dimension, to be in touch with it, to inhabit it. The task of this Advent season is to find it. That dimension is the Spirit in each of us, the Spirit of God in whose image we have been created. Every collapse is an opportunity for a new beginning. Preparing for Christmas is readying ourselves to encounter the Lord who is with us, who is in us and through whom we too can triumph over chaos and adversity.

InOurHandsThe Parish Gathering prayed and then considered two questions, (a) ‘What do you want to celebrate about your parish/ what are we doing well?’ (b) ‘What can we do better/ what else can we do?’ The Parish Pastoral Council are processing your responses to the questions under five core areas of parish pastoral life, Community, Care, Prayer, Formation and Celebration.

The story in the Gospel according to Mark (Chp. 10, vv 46 -52) provides a context and a strategy for action. The Gospel is a story of encounter with Jesus. The purpose of the Church, and the Church in Donnybrook which is our parish, is to enable people to encounter Jesus Christ and to follow him as their personal Lord and Saviour. A culturally Catholic upbringing is not sufficient anymore. Only those who are passionate disciples of Jesus can initiate that desire in others.

Discipleship begins, as it began for Bartimaeus, with our need, our own darkness and our own cry for help. In the world there is a darkness that we all feel in our hearts, an absence of vision, purpose and hope, evident both in individuals and society. This emptiness manifests itself in narcissism, consumerism, drug taking, suicide and, at a social level, individualism, loneliness, populism and a nasty media, the social media in particular.