From the Regional Director of Oceania
Have trouble finding a New Year’s resolution that you might keep this year? I usually struggle to come up with something that might be reasonable and is not just a mere wish. Usually, by February, I have forgotten about it, and my life and habits are much the same as before.
The interesting thing is that at this time of the year, we are praying that God would teach us the ways of God. We keep on praying in the Our Father, “Thy will be done.” So maybe I should not be looking at what I think is best for me to do. I should be asking what is it that God wants me to do this year?
I am not sure how God works with you, and I suspect that God has as many different ways of getting to people as there are people. God does not usually hand out big detailed plans of what we are supposed to do for the year.
Pope Francis often speaks of prayer and our talking and listening to God. He says that we are always connected to God, and the way to live fully is to listen to what the Spirit is saying and follow the promptings of the Spirit.
As missionary disciples of Jesus, we should look to how Jesus lived his life. I wonder, did he have big New Year’s resolutions? In Luke’s Gospel, it is the Spirit that comes down on Jesus at his baptism and from then on “The Spirit of the Lord is upon him.” After Jesus’ death and resurrection, the early Christians operated in the same way. Reading the Acts of the Apostles, we see that they too are guided by the Holy Spirit. When they are not clear what to do, they seek help from the Spirit.
This opens up big questions about our New Year’s resolutions. I often have the wrong assumptions. I assume that it is up to me to work out what I have to do. The way of Jesus is to ask what God wants us to do. Like the early Christians, I think that I should wait on the Spirit to inspire me as to what I should do this year.
Pope Francis says that we should pay attention to the nudges of the Spirit. Maybe we are getting an idea of doing something different. It could be an easy thing or maybe it is a bit of a challenge. We are being nudged. We feel we should go to the local St Vincent de Paul group and offer our time and some effort. Or we have this nudge to go and help one of our neighbours. Often, this is not a long term project. If we get up and go to visit the neighbour, then things will develop from there. Someone might suggest something. Someone asks us to do something. It all feels rather normal and natural but looking back over what has happened or, even in the moment, we can recognise the work of the Spirit. Who is on mission here? Whose work is this? It is the Spirit’s, and it is ours. The Spirit of God continues God’s mission in and through us in the normal patterns of our lives. All that is required is that we pay attention to these nudges of the Spirit.
I think I have found my New Year’s resolution. I will try to pay better attention to the Spirit working in my life. God wants us all to share his love for the whole world. The Spirit is the source of that love that we feel for all sorts of people, many of whom we do not even know personally. The compassion we feel for the many suffering people of our world is a sharing in God’s compassion for them.
Our mission this year, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, is a sharing in the mission of God. What a wonderful project to be involved in! May we all be caught up into God’s love for all the world. In this way, our year will be blest.
Fr Trevor Trotter
Regional Director of Oceania
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