The Cathedral Connection 23 September 2018

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When the All Blacks lost last Saturday night, reaction came quickly. Some criticised the players and coaches. Others took a more philosophical view. It was a great game; we lost to a great team. Perhaps the loss will be good in the long run. It’s what happens after a loss that matters. That describes some of my feelings following a gathering of 185 diocesan priests in Christchurch last week. It was a great sharing in the joy of the sacrament of priesthood. We totalled 4842 years of priestly service! I was able to renew friendship with priests I have long admired, many now growing old gracefully. Then there were the young shoots, many from the Philippines and India, full of energy and a great blessing for our Church. The keynote speakers echoed our own experience that the Church is facing severe difficulties. These are not so much from outside forces but more directly from within. We have suffered a big loss. Now we must take stock and plan ahead. Perhaps this period of time will be good for us. Pope Francis is indeed a Pope for our times. He sees the difficulties and he is challenging us to live the gospel in a new way.

The danger of clericalism. Here priests are treated in a deferential way; they make arbitrary decisions and ‘run the show’. They control what happens. ‘Servant Leadership’ goes out the window. Priests live in a world apart, not smelling like the sheep.’

We must reach out to the peripheries, and not look in on ourselves. Francis sets an example as he meets the refugees at Lampadozza; he washes the feet of women and men of all religions (and none) in prison. Is this not also what Jesus teaches, to reach out to those neglected and ignored, even hated by others.

To remember Paul’s image of the Body (1 Cor 12/ 18-22.) Through baptism, each of us becomes part of the Body of Christ. Each a different and limited part, but once we are joined to, and work with the whole body, we become Christ in action, and can change the world.
We carry on, like the disciples in today’s gospel, having learnt a hard lesson, but determined to be better for it.

Fr Ron Bennett

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