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Parishes as Centres of Service
In difficult times, the love of Christ urges us on

Frequently through his letters St Paul tells of his weariness and sufferings to carry the message of Jesus to the Gentiles – us! Frequently he exhorts his new churches (parishes) and his disciples (us, again) to keep going in the faith that he has planted.
 
The Church is in a hard place at the moment, and the faith and endurance of its people and its leaders are being well and truly tested. This is not the first time Christians have been on the outer – Jesus gave his life for what he stood for, as did Paul, Peter and many others. Perhaps we are just returning to normal. That may be very good for the Church, as Jesus’ representative to the world. 
 
In graphic style, Paul tells us something of what he had to put up with:
 
Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have laboured and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches (2 Corinthians 11:24-28)
 
Especially since the Tampa incident in 2001, asylum seekers and refugees and indirectly those who support them have been under attack from both sides of federal politics – 18 years so far. This has had a deeply wearing effect upon the refugees themselves and those who support them. Many in our parishes are tired of maintaining the struggle. Likewise people in Catholic agencies and other organisations are tired, in this and in so many other areas of need.
 
What can we do in the face of opposition and fatigue? Like Paul, we must keep going because “the love of Christ urges us on” (2 Corinthians 5:14). Therefore:
 
… let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame of it, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2)
 
Let us ask the Holy Spirit, our Adviser, our Helper, our Comforter,  to help us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. 
 
Let us pray:

Come Holy Spirit,
fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love.
Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created.
And You shall renew the face of the earth.
O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful,
grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations,
Through Christ Our Lord, Amen.
 
 
Adrian Foley
Catholic Social Services Victoria
 








 
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