A courageous discipleship

8 August, 2021 Saint Mary of the Cross, Year B

The first session of the Plenary Council will take place in Adelaide from 2-10 October 2021 and the second in Sydney from 4-9 July 2022. The Council meetings will be multi-modal in that people will be present face-face and online.

The Plenary Council is the fruit of a lengthy process of consultation of the Australian community which began in 2018 with the primary question being, “What is God’s Spirit asking of us in Australia Today?”

There were 222,000 responses, and the material was then gathered by the National Centre for Pastoral Research into six broad themes with discernment and writing groups appointed for each theme. Their material was published on Pentecost Sunday in 2020, and a small writing group was appointed to produce a ‘Working Document’ to guide the participants.,

The final chapter of this document is entitled “I am with you always,” and the opening reflection is about Saint Mary MacKillop who is seen as a model of Australian discipleship. Her story is a powerful reminder “that the way of courageous discipleship of Jesus Christ is not foreign to those who live under the Australian sun in this wide brown land.”

The ‘Working Document’ offers all of us an invitation “to follow in Saint Mary’s footsteps, seeking new ways to share the joy of the Gospel with each other and with the communities in which we live.”

Our Gospel reading for the feast reminds us that God watches over us on our journey through life, values us, and invites us to seek first the kingdom, and God promises to provide for our other needs. We see an example of this when the great prophet Elijah visits a widow in an obscure village in the north of the country and asks for bread and water.

The widow had little but she provided a small meal with the limited resources at hand and she and her son supped with Elijah. To her utter surprise, her generosity is rewarded and the “jar of meal was not spent, nor the jug of oil emptied.” God provided for all in their need.

Paul writes to the Colossians from prison in Rome around 60-62 after he had heard that they were struggling with some theological issues. Paul reminds them of God’s enduring love and offers them advice about how to let the love of God flow into their lives so that they forgive each other as the Lord had forgiven them and live lives of generosity, humility, gentleness and patience which will bring peace to the heart and blessings to the community.

The words of our readings struck a chord in the heart of Mary MacKillop and her words to her sisters resonate in our ears when we hear her sage advice. “Never see a need, without doing something about it.”

The Plenary Council is a synodal exercise in listening to the voices of our faith communities and making decisions that will lead us to fullness of life.

Michael A Kelly CSsR

© Majellan Media 2021

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