Priest's Perspective

Priests Perspective – Feast of St Anthony

Two significant things today, as I return to work for 2022. It is the feast of St Anthony the founder of the religious life, and the Old Testament reading is Isaiah 40 1-8; calling to make straight the paths of the Lord. These opening lines of Trito Isaiah are a calling us to look to the future and the coming of Jesus as the saviour of the world, and end to Exile and hopelessness. It would be a long, long time till this actually happened but, as Christians, we are called to live in the hope of salvation and deliverance and speak that hope into the world even while the world still languishes in darkness. this is the calling to the religious life, a way of living in hope, trusting God and being fully devoted to Him.

I just read that the State of Disaster has been extended another month in South Africa which means that the Command Council can still pass regulations in an extraordinary fashion. Despite our desire for this season of Corona Virus to be over, it is still very much with us. Omnicron may not be as severe as previous variants, but it is still debilitating and can be recurring. Many people are still suffering the ill effects of contracting the virus.

And so we are called to perseverance. We are called to Hope. Scripture implores us to not tire of doing good ( Gal 6:9) but to dedicate ourselves to the work of disciples. Disciples of Jesus’s love, hope, peace and joy. Today’s Gospel is Mark 10: 17-21 which is the story of the Rich young man. It is this text that St Francis took literally and gave away all his earthly wealth and status and imitated the life of Christ. The question for us is, what do we need to “set aside” in our lives to be more devoted to and centred on Christ? What do we need to clear from our minds, our desires and our aims and objectives for life, that stands in the way of God having control and setting the direction of our lives?

I am so encouraged by the words of Jesus who says ” with humankind this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” Mark 10:27.

As I dive into ministry for 2022 there are many things that I have no idea how I am going to overcome.  The challenges are great. But God reminds us today that He is in control, we can trust him. When we trust in our own abilities, desires, success, we will fall short. When we set our own agenda’s and plans, we will fail. But when we submit to the will of God, when we allow ourselves to be used for His purposes, then we will attain real life.

How wonderful it is to know that our success on earth is not in the wealth and status of this world, but in the “Life of Christ.”

Today I submit myself again to be used by Christ for His purposes.

Our Morning prayer Old Testament ( Gen 8:6-22) continues with this liberating theme – Noah is called to come out of the ark, but he has to wait for the time to be right. He sends out a dove three times. The Dove is a symbol of peace and we are called today to reach out in peace and speak God’s peace over the world, a world submerged in the deep waters of its problems and challenges.  When the Dove returns Noah does not give up he waits, and then sends it again. And when it returns he waits and he sends it again, until the time is right.

Today let us send God’s peace ahead of us, into the world, into every situation you face. Perhaps your peace will return to you, and it will be unsettling, but wait upon the Lord and send it out again, keeping sending keep sowing, make straight the paths, you are a voice calling out in the wilderness of Life, a message of hope, in the turmoil of life.

In the words of Hebrews 4: 14b “let us hold firmly to the hope we profess,  and 16: ” approach the throne of grace with confidence, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

“Comfort ,comfort my people says the Lord” ( Is 40:1) for all things are possible with God ( (Mark 27b). Let us therefore, enter this day with courage and renewed hope and trust in our God.

The God who has called us is faithful and He will not fail us!

Feast of St Anthony.