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07/05/2013: Australia

 

MSA Newsletter - 7 May 2013.pdf

Dear Brothers, colleagues and friends.
Each day, for twenty-three in a row, the God of Surprises had something different up the divine sleeve to keep us alert and unsettled. Sometimes God's angel came to us dramatically and unmistakably, but more often the messenger's entry was gentle and subtle – but no less challenging for being so. At the General House in Rome, we reflected on the "whisper of God" in our lives.

Pilgrimage 2013. A remarkable journey indeed for the thirty-five Marists who have just returned to Australian shores. At one level it was a physical journey – lots of packing and unpacking, buses and planes, fascinating places, interesting people, memorable events – but at a deeper level for each pilgrim it was a real journey of the heart, a journey inwards to find the God who is our life, the God of Marcellin and Mary, the God whose Good News we give our lives to make known. There was so much that happened for us, so many encounters and experiences, so many times when the Word of God came alive and dwelt in our midst. Let me choose one. We were in Jerusalem, and had gallantly risen well before dawn to make the Way of the Cross through the deserted streets of the Old City. It was just after 5.00am as we walked through the cobbled streets to the first Station of the famed Via Dolorosa. There was the stillness of a city yet to wake, all made somewhat eerie by the antiquity and closeness of the place.

But the ancient streets were not deserted. The shutters were down, the crowds yet to appear, but we weren't on our own, or not quite. As we made our way through the dimly lit laneways, we found ourselves bumping shoulders with others. Muslims were answering the call to morning prayer, making their way quietly in small groups and alone to various mosques – both the imposing Al-Aqsa mosque and any number of smaller ones tucked in corners here and there. Along the same streets, Orthodox Jews – men and boys – hurried silently past us in their black suits and hats, perhaps running late to make up the required numbers for Sacharit at the synagogue. And us, and bunch of Aussie pilgrims. There was something afoot, and we were all part of it in our different ways, with our variety of outfits, and our own languages. What were we all doing at this early hour? What was the call we were answering? Who was the God we were seeking? For seekers we all were. I mused, however, that set on our own courses – people from the three faiths in a place that each regards as holy, crossing each other's paths without any apparent ability or desire to connect – that we might be missing the glaringly obvious. It was both the beauty and the tragedy of religious experience in microcosm: all of us heeding the call of God to come out of ourselves, but all still so bound up in our own purposes and ways. God must have been smiling. And God must have been crying. But, I guess that God's being doing both for a long time.

At the end of the day the questions might seem to be different, but the answer is always the same.

Brother Michael Green fm

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