Tag Archives: forgiveness

Forgiveness and humility

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Due to the pace of school life at the start of the school year I have only managed to write a short reflection on our themes each fortnight rather than once a week… I’m sorry I haven’t kept up with it so far – maybe a little ironic when reflecting on forgiveness.

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What stands out to me is that in reality all of us fall short at times… personally, in our jobs, in our relationships and also in our time for God. We can either give up on any area of these aspects or our lives or can dust ourselves down each day and seek to ask each other, and God, for forgiveness in the areas where we could have done better.

Equally we need to learn how to love and forgive one another. We sometimes see so many images of hatred, division and conflict. The images of conflict from the tragic events in Charlottesville really shocked and saddened me this summer. Perhaps it was the echoes which were more reminiscent of images buried deep in history of the 1960s or divisions of South Africa and apartheid.

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What was clear for the world to see was the level of hatred and the fact that there was a lack of leadership in the response. Through apathy we condone this division and hatred. We have a duty in leading, and educating, to challenge and engage people to live a life that builds unity not division.

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Nelson Mandela, a hero of mine, had every reason to hate and resent those who imprisoned him and robbed him of the best years of his life yet instead he made a choice to help it form him into the leader that he became of the “rainbow nation”.

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We can only meet hatred with love if we are to transform the world and we must have a belief in humanity to achieve this.

After the tragic events in Barcelona we saw how this can be lived out in the power of love and forgiveness. Even in the depths of a mourning family Javier Martinez found the humility and integrity to take the darkest time in grieving for the loss of his 3 year old son and transform it into a symbol of light and hope.

Ultimately this is the same message that Jesus gave. He led with humility and offered love and forgiveness in all He said and did in His life. If we can live this out in some small way each day we are truly making the world a better place, one small step at a time.

A few thoughts for the week ahead…

  • What can we do to ask for or offer forgiveness in our relationships with one another and with God?
  • How can we be liberated by offering forgiveness to others?
  • What can we do to act with humility and how can we be inspired by the example of Jesus?

I hope you all have a really good week and have the opportunity to love, live and forgive in whatever we face each day.

God bless.

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Be the change you wish to see in the world…

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We need to “be the change we wish to see in the world”. This week after the horrific scenes in Manchester we need to have a shared commitment to live with love, compassion and forgiveness. If people look to drive us apart, accentuate our differences and conflict we have a chance to move closer together instead.

As we celebrate today the Feast of the Ascension we remember Jesus is not leaving us alone but saying, “I will always be with you” and reassuring us that the Holy Spirit, the power of God in the world, will always be with us.

In times of tragedy or suffering we need to trust in God to heal the hurt, division and distrust.

We pray today for our leaders to use love as the most powerful weapon to destroy hate and terror.

We pray for all the innocent victims of the terrorist attack in Manchester and their families. May God comfort them in their suffering and angush.

We pray for those vulnerable in society to being led towards violence and hatred in the world. May God give them strength to listen to His voice within them to do good and reject evil.

We pray that we can live our lives full of faith, hope and love.

God bless.

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I am proud to be Catholic and proud of the example of Pope Francis #thisismypope. This week he spoke these words in Mass to all of us.

“You can have defects, be anxious and live irritated sometimes, but do not forget that your life is the biggest company in the world.

Only you can prevent her from going into decline.
There are many who appreciate you, admire you and love you.

I would like you to remember that to be happy, is not to have a sky without storms, road without accidents, works without fatigue, relationships without disappointments.

To be happy is to find strength in forgiveness, hope in battles, security in the box of fear, love in disagreements.

Being happy is not only valuing the smile, but also reflecting on sadness.
It is not just to commemorate success, but to learn lessons in failures.
It is not just to have joy with applause, but to have joy in anonymity.

To be happy is to recognize that life is worth living, despite all the challenges, misunderstandings, and periods of crisis.

Being happy is not a fatality of destiny, but a conquest for those who know how to travel within their own being.

To be happy is to stop being a victim of problems and become an actor in one’s own history.
It is to cross deserts out of itself, but to be able to find an oasis in the recesses of our soul.
It is to thank God every morning for the miracle of life.

Being happy is not being afraid of your own feelings.
It is knowing how to talk about yourself.
It is courage to hear a “no”.
It is safe to receive criticism, even if it is unfair.
It is to kiss the children, to pamper parents, to have poetic moments with friends, even if they hurt us.

To be happy is to let the free, happy and simple creature live within each one of us.
It is to have maturity to say ‘I was wrong’.
It is to have the audacity to say *forgive me*.
It is to have sensitivity to express *’I need you’*.
It is to be able to say * ‘I love you’ *.

May your life become a garden of opportunity to be happy …
May you be joyous in your spring.
In your winter you are friend of wisdom.
And when you get in the way, start all over again.
Then you will be more passionate about life.
And you will discover that to be happy is not to have a perfect life.
But use tears to water the tolerance.
Use the losses to refine the patience.
Use flaws to sculpt serenity.
Use pain lapping pleasure.
Use obstacles to open the windows of intelligence.
Never give up ….
Never give up on the people you love.
Never give up being happy, because life is a must-see! “

Pope Francis

Learning to love and forgive

Forgive.pngIn one of the recent Gospel readings this week we hear of the account of how a crowd had gathered to condemn a woman accused of adultery. The crowd were demanding “instant justice” and were planning to stone her. Jesus challenged whoever was without sin to cast the first stone. Slowly one by one the crowd dispersed and the stones dropped to the ground. He gently offered his forgiveness and told her to turn away from the areas of her life that led her in the wrong direction.

This is a great message for us. Put simply we need to learn to love and forgive.

A few questions for the week ahead…

  • What can you do to use the power of forgiveness to rebuild relationships?
  • How can we stop ourselves from being too quick to judge?
  • What is it we can ask God (or others…) to forgive us of?

If we can take this small step, to drop the stone, say sorry or move on in our lives surely it can be good for us all too.

Have a happy and liberating journey this week as we prepare for the celebration of Holy Week.

God bless.

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Witness – a living faith

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We continue to hear about how Jesus seeks outs opportunities to heal those left marginalised in society. In society at the time there was a direct correlation between suffering and sin. When Jesus heals the blind man this week we can see he makes him “whole again” by healing him and challenging the suffering and prejudices he faced. Once he is healed the blind man is summoned back to bear witness to what Jesus had done ending in him being driven away by the authorities. You can feel the rising pressure and plotting for Jesus’ downfall during this time getting us ready for His entry into Jerusalem and the sacrifice of his crucifixion.

We at times can fall into a trap where we are quick to judge others and cast them aside. We can be tempted to ignore the needs of others, particularly when we are under pressure from others.

A few thoughts for this week…

  • How can you offer an unconditional love, forgiveness and support of others?
  • What do we find difficult to bear witness to in our lives?
  • How would we have responded to the blind man? Would we have walked towards him or away from him?
  • Do we have a heart for justice, peace and equality?

For me in a basic and simple way my faith is about the challenge to live it out in the everyday moments and interactions each day. We need to ask God to give us the wisdom and bravery to do the right thing, even if it is not the popular thing, even if it goes unnoticed or is un-popular.

So stand strong, stand proud and ask God to give us the bravery and confidence to bear witness in the world today.

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What are we thirsting for?

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We have all felt the feeling of being desperate for the opportunity to quench our thirst. In an attempt to live a more healthy lifestyle I do not drink (well an alcoholic drink to be more precise!) during the week. In a very basic way this has been a good discipline but I also find that I appreciate it more when I can indulge a little… 

In the theme of this week we look at the theme of thirst. In the Gospel reading we hear the account of Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s Well. The story is significant on a number of levels.

  • It would be socially unacceptable for a man to speak to an unaccompanied woman at the Well.
  • The woman was a Samaritan who were the enemies of the Jewish race.
  • Jesus was directly challenging these assumptions and prejudices.
  • Jesus could see the true person and had the ability to really know the depths of her life story, warts and all.
  • This brief interaction inspired her faith and drew people to follow Jesus.

The deeper meaning of the story is actually asking us about what we really thirst and strive for. We can be satisfied in a very basic way by fulfilling our needs but the joy isn’t very long lasting unless it means something deeper.

So what may we be thirsting for?

  • I thirst for tolerance and understanding – this week we had a great opportunity to do just this by supporting Downs Syndrome Awareness where our school community, staff and students, wore odd socks to celebrate difference and simply raise awareness. Another inspiring example was Mélainie in France as she presented the weather to fulfil her dream.
  • I thirst for justice and peace – this afternoon in London it is emerging that an awful terrorist attack has taken place at the heart of our capital city. This only causes fear and division. We need to use the power of education to transform the divisions, hatred and violence we find in the world.
  • I thirst for faith – if we are truly to allow our faith to flourish we need to nourish it to the full. This takes time, energy and needs light and water.

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So let us walk together to have a shared thirst to seek out faith, hope in love in our lives and inspire this in those we meet. As a community of faith we are challenged to  become a beacon of life, light and hope. What will you do this week to live this out in a small way?

God bless.

Let the truth set you free…

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In the Gospel account this week we are challenged to hear the narrative of Jesus’ experience on the cross. It is the account where He is being taunted by all around including the criminal crucified beside him. The second criminal asked for Jesus to “remember me when you come into your kingdom”, Jesus responded, “today you will be with me in paradise” – a full and unconditional love and forgiveness.

I am currently writing this whilst listening to a television programme about Christian extremism in America. The faith that condemns, judges and rejects others is one that I fail to recognise, to talk about a “Christian hate group” is incompatible to my understanding of faith, this is so far removed from the Gospel account we hear this week.

Ultimately the Christian faith, and all of Jesus’ teaching in the New Testament, can be summarised in two words – LOVE and FORGIVENESS.  Instead of dividing people by religious belief we should find opportunities to celebrate our common humanity and what brings us together in our shared faith. We should rejoice and celebrate the common heritage of Christianity with Judaism and Islam and find opportunities to highlight this.

This is my faith – one that looks to embrace diversity, understanding and tolerance. We should give thanks for the opportunity to celebrate a faith of love and forgiveness. If this is the truth it truly sets us free.

A few questions for the week ahead;

  • How can we seek out the truth of faith?
  • What does it mean to accept Jesus’ love and forgiveness?
  • How can we give young people a thirst to seek out faith and justice in the world that we live in?
  • What can we do to challenge extreme views in the world and build a world of unity?

 

Will you be a life-changer?

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The theme for this week in school is gratitude. In the Gospel account we hear about a woman, with a chequered past, who throws herself at the feet of Jesus. When Jesus recognises her, supports her and picks her up at her lowest moment He is criticised for reaching out to a “sinner” or someone they saw as not worthy of His attention.

I suppose for us today we need to take the opposite attitude to those critics. We need to reach out in Catholic communities to those rejected by society, vulnerable or under pressure. We are called by Pope Francis to ensure we become an “oasis of mercy”. This challenge lies at the heart of what we stand for as a Catholic school community and needs to inspire us to live, breath and work in the right way.

We can never forget the responsibility we have as teachers and those in education to change someone’s life. We can set the weather by bringing sunshine, life and hope or rain and despair – what a unique responsibility and honour. No pressure!

Ian Wright was a professional footballer and he remembers the man who showed belief in him for the first time.

So what can we do?

  • Pause for a moment this week to be grateful to God and those around us for all that we have been blessed with in our lives.
  • Pray for an end to injustice, prejudice and violence – we remember those devastated by the tragic shooting in Orlando this week.
  • Let us never forget the difference we can make to change someone’s life for the better.

So in essence – let’s have an attitude of gratitude and live life guided by the love, compassion and forgiveness shown by Jesus in His life each and every day.