God is Deeply Present in our Lives
Today’s first reading is from the final chapter of the Second Book of Chronicles. The Chronicler, as the writer is known, appears to provide a factual written account of historical events in the life of Israel in the order of their occurrence. Rather than providing an accurate account of the history of Israel, however, the Chronicler’s intention was to use Israel’s past to communicate religious messages to his readers. There are four main messages that the Chronicler offers us: first, God is active in history; second, temple worship was God’s instigation; third, God calls Israel to a special relationship; and fourth, God remains active in the life of Israel. These four themes find a particular application in our lives as Christians since the history of Israel (the Old Testament), is a reflection of our own developing relationships with God.
This Sunday marks the half-way point of our Lenten journey and is traditionally called Laetare Sunday. Laetare is the Latin word for rejoice and if you’re lucky, you might see Fr Dang or I wearing rose-coloured vestments at Mass. (As an aside, last Advent, someone came up to me on Gaudete Sunday and suggested that instead of being pink, my rose-coloured chasuble was aggressive salmon)! No matter your interpretation of the colour, rose represents joy – the joy of the coming Easter festivities. Rose also represents the joy we encounter when we realise and embrace the fact that the four messages of the Chronicler above find their completion and fulfilment in Jesus. Jesus is the new Temple who invites us into a personal relationship with himself.
This week on Thursday evening, we have a concrete opportunity to encounter the person of Jesus. You may remember in October last year we ran our very first parish Encounter Night at OLR. It was an evening centred on hospitality, learning, singing, reconciliation and most importantly, Encountering the Person of Jesus in a Prayer Team – a two-person team who ask you what you’d like prayer for, and who will pray out loud for your request with a hand on your shoulder. It’s been my personal experience – both as someone receiving prayer and someone doing the praying – that this is where many people have this thing we call Encounter: a sense or feeling that God is close to me and desires me, that I am loved, and that I am not alone.
Encountering the person of Jesus is something that’s available to all Christians. It’s something I’ve encountered on numerous occasions. Sometimes, it’s simply a matter of developing eyes to see and ears to hear that allows a person to encounter Christ in prayer. If you have a desire for this type of experience, and especially if you’re sceptical, I want to personally invite you to register for our Encounter Night at OLR church, 5.30 – 7.30pm on Thursday 18th March.
If you are a Hinterland parishioner in particular, I would love to see you there. We would like to take Encounter on the road at least two more times this year but our ability to do so depends upon having parishioners who’ve already experienced Encounter. Please register through the Mass Booking page on our parish website. The OLR Encounter Team and I look forward to welcoming you.
Peace and blessings, Fr Josh