I have just enjoyed the most wonderful day with my extended family – a very diverse group of people from whom I learn a great deal, and whose love and support I can always rely on. That doesn’t mean we always agree, far from it. We all have a love of learning (shout out to my niece who just got 99.65 ATAR score in her HSC without doing ANY maths or science – I forgive you honey) and we often have strong opinions that we are more than willing to express.
Having said that, there is always respect for the other person, even when we vehemently disagree. We have practising Catholics, atheist scientists, humanists that reject labels, and many other individual philosophies. We have staunch Liberal voters, people who find Tony Abbott not only inadequate but dangerous, and others who would probably not even vote if given the choice.
I look at all these people and recognise the contribution they make to our society each in their own way. We all do it differently, but I am very proud of my family, what they achieve, and what they do to make this world a better place.
Sometime late in high school, my father, a very wise man, said to me “It is not your job to always point out when people are wrong.” I still struggle with that (hearing family snorting) and have to remind myself often of how insightful those words were and what good advice it was.
We all must recognise that you cannot bludgeon someone into thinking the same way that you do. We should take more time to listen respectfully to each other and to accept that our differences can actually be a productive thing if we can learn to work together regardless of our beliefs.
In the spirit of Xmas, learning, tolerance and inclusivity I listened to what some of our Christian leaders had to say today.
The Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, Glenn Davies, spoke about selfies being pictures of “faces that have the self-image of God – those for whom Jesus came to offer new life.”
I found myself wondering what the point of this message was other than trying to make the same old stuff sound hip (and if you think Kevin Rudd is hip then you probably need some PR advice).
Uniting Church president Reverend Andrew Dutney said “Not everyone has been made to feel welcome in our country. If that sounds like your year please take heart. You are never alone on your journey. God is with you, constantly reaching out to you in love.”
If God is with the refugees seeking asylum in this country he must wonder where the hell we are.
Melbourne’s Catholic Archbishop Denis Hart used his annual Christmas message to call on the church to reach out to victims of sexual abuse. “We also recognise that grief is part of faith. Part of us can wonder why bad things happen to good people,” he said.
This “grief is part of faith” thing I don’t understand. It is inevitable that we will all experience grief in our lives, what part it plays in faith is the bit I don’t get. Shouldn’t faith in something be an edifying, uplifting experience? I always thought faith implied confidence and trust rather than grief. And it is more than part of me wondering why the abuse of so many children was ignored.
He went on to say “We sometimes cry out ‘why’ to our God. As a church we’re all tested especially when we see innocent people suffer. During these days of the Royal Commission, we pray especially for the innocent victims of sexual abuse in the church and acknowledge the courage of those victims who have come forward to speak of their abuse.”
I am crying out ‘why’ to the Catholic church and the other institutions entrusted with the care of our children who so abysmally abused that trust and destroyed so many lives in the belief that their reputation was more important than the truth and the protection of our children. It’s nice of you to pray for the victims “during these days of the Royal Commission”. Helping them when they “had the courage to come forward” would have been a more admirable course.
The Archbishop of Westminster urged people to give “a special thought and prayer” to Christians around the world who suffer for their faith. It seems grief and suffering is part of the membership deal. The Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell also spoke of this saying:
“We acknowledge the wide scepticism and occasional hostility of those around us, but because we know Christ we should have the courage of our convictions, we should not lapse into timid silence and we should not be frightened to appear to be different,” he said.
Rest assured Cardinal Pell, we will not lapse into timid silence.
I wish all of you the best this festive season and hope we can all remember what is important in life.