When grace meets violence

From the Regional Director of Oceania

Fr Trevor Trotter Regional Director of Oceania

Yesterday in the Plenary Council, which is considering what God is inviting us to be as Church in Australia, we had a video by Fr Richard Lennan. He is a Maitland-Newcastle priest who was on call from Boston in the early morning. He gave a very good summary of the meaning of mission for the Catholic Church. 

I was struck, as were others, by one of his statements that “our whole world is graced”. Usually, this is not the first word that we would use to describe our world today.

We hear so many stories of violence in the world. Images of what has happened in Afghanistan recently are still in our minds. Then this morning the story of hundreds of thousands of children sexually abused in Church settings in France. Even in our communities and in our families there is so much violence. All of us are affected. 

What happens when grace meets violence? It is horrendous. Pain and suffering are inflicted upon the victims. Brute force and abuse of power seem to be the “winners”.

It is precisely here in these tragic events that our Christian story is born. The violence of the death of Jesus is extreme. How much he suffered is indeed evident in every cross we ever see in our homes and churches. 

It is on Calvary that violence is met with grace. Violence seems to be “the winner”. As Jesus hangs on the cross, we hear. “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” His love for his brothers and sisters is not defeated by nails, wood or thorns. His prayer to his father is not beaten down by the hatred, fear or envy, of those whose who killed him.

This story, our Christian story, is not just about something that occurred centuries ago. It is our everyday story. In all situations, at every moment of the day, grace and violence meet. In all of these events, we can hear the words, “Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing”.

The prayer is heard, and the Father raises Jesus and all of us, into a new life. Our mission in Australia today is to tell the full story of what is happening when grace meets violence.

Fr Trevor Trotter signature

Fr Trevor Trotter
Regional Director of Oceania
rdoceania@columban.org.au

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