FOR thousands of our youngsters, this is a time of year of traumatic change. For some it will be an exciting challenge, and for others it will be absolutely terrifying. Leaving school to try to find a job, or leaving one educational establishment to go on to higher education in another, means stepping out into the great unknown.
Some, hopefully, will find support and friendship through the local parish or the student chaplaincy. Within a very short space of time, however, they'll sett e own and will soon be so "at home" in their new environment, most will probably think it seems like years since they first arrived at the new place, with knees trembling.
I know just how they feel, don't you too? Just last week moved to a new parish. The parishioners there have probably been thinking "I wonder what he's like?", and presuming the worst I certainly found myself thinking: "1 wonder what they're like?" and thinking much the same. And yet, I feel
quite "at home" already, and the challenge of new work with new people is before me.
There are words of support for the new parish priest, or the new student, or the new employee, in today's Second Reading from St Paul. "I am reminding you to fan into a flame the gift that God gave you. . . . keep as your pattern the sound teaching you heard from me. . . . you have been trusted to look after something precious; guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit." We have the faith to sustain us, and the guidance of the Gospel to direct us safely through the mine-fields of life, but we often forget just how lucky we are in having such a precious gift.
The apostles certainly didn't realise the power the presence of Jesus brought into their lives. Like ourselves, they despaired of their weakness and pleaded "increase our faith!" One of the drawbacks of living in our modern age with all its available resources, is that it's easy to sit back and watch the world go by without lifting a finger to plot its course. We want everything on a plate, prepared and offered.
And yet within us we have the power to transform the world. We are but earthenware vessels holding the most precious of gifts, the faith, and we seem so determined to keep it locked away safely. How feeble of us! No wonder St Paul reminds Timothy "God's gift was not a spirit of timidity. . . So you are never to be ashamed of witnessing to the Lord."
As the season of the party conferences is in full swing, we might veil think that more than one speaker draws his punch-lines from the prophet Habakkuk: "Why do you set injustice before me? Why do you look on where there is tyranny?" Why, indeed? Why have Catholics not taken up the precepts of the Gospel and the social teaching of the Church from Rerum Novartim of I eo XIII to Laborem Excercens of John Paul II, and made a determined effort to create a society based upon
The problem is, that many think that the Gospel is very nice, but actually getting down to living it is another matter. To such folk, the response to today's psalm is addressed: "0 that today you would listen to his voice! Harden not your hearts!" Ours are the only voice the Lord has to make His will known, the only hands He has to build the Kingdom of truth and justice. Pull your weight!
Action: Befriend the new students/people moved into your parish recently. Let your voice be heard on social issues,
Dom Thomas Rcgan OSB