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Fr Francis’ Front Page Reflection Mar 3, 2023

Second Sunday of Lent
Fr Francis 2
Fr Francis 2

Witness and Giving

In 2015, my seminary year group had the privilege of going on pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Among the various sites we visited was Mt. Tabor and it was a visit full of vivid memories. Mt Tabor is likely the site of the Transfiguration. I recall the mountain appearing seemingly out of nowhere as we drove through a large plain.

 

The ascent uphill felt like a suicide mission with the driver darting up the narrow road, and taking the bends with as much speed as he could get away with. The summit was surprisingly broad. It accommodated: a large basilica; the ruins of a medieval monastery; an open gravelled space to accommodate a large crowd; and a café and gift shop. At the summit, our guide called us to one side of the mountain beside the basilica and explained that the plains, far below, were called the plains of Megiddo. Megiddo forms the root out of which comes the word “Armageddon”. In other words, we were looking at the site upon which the final, apocalyptic war was imagined to take place in the book of Revelations.

 

The rest of the plains, on the other hand, were agricultural land. It is a strange juxtaposition – a land prophesied to produce death beside a land that produces life. (Future horror sits beside yearly abundance!). Perhaps it foreshadowed what the apostles were to witness: the horror of the cross and the glory of the resurrection in the one Christ; the crown of martyrdom and the crown of glory in their future ministry. Nonetheless, the experience of their encounter with the transfigured Christ sustained them till their last breath. As the saying goes: “The blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church”. “Martyr” – despite its association with death – simply means witness.

 

Our parish, in taking up its call to witness to Christ, has so far embarked on the grand project of the strategic plan. We will be organising our activity in order to put all parishioners on the front foot of taking up Jesus message in this Sunday’s gospel: “[witness] to what you have seen after the Son of Man has risen from the dead”.

 

To enable us to carry out our task of witnessing to those outside our parish community, Fr Josh and I will be appealing to you this weekend and next about increasing our giving. Our parish may be breaking even at this stage, but the overwhelming bulk of your giving goes towards maintaining the parish as it is. Had Peter, James and John merely maintained Christianity – their work would have at best been a “palliative care” for the faith. The faith would have died with them. Mere maintenance, whatever our numbers be, leads to decline.

 

The good news, is that our witnessing to the risen Christ among us is more than possible today. It is possible given the right people and resources, but these things cost money. Since we are still a large parish by population, giving even a little more going forward – say the price of a coffee – goes a long way. Martyrdom on the Sunshine Coast may not cost us our lives, but it can cost us a cup of coffee. Are you willing to endure this coffee martyrdom to  make witnessing happen?

 

I am sure that you will be generous in helping to make the message of Jesus Christ available to the wider community.

 

God bless

Fr Francis Fernandes.

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