Kia ora tātou,
Our great adventure to Panama is now well and truly on the radar screen.
I am writing to you on the Feast of Christ the King.
Maybe the kingship of Jesus isn’t a term with which we at first feel comfortable but Christ’s kingship is one in which we all share. On the very day of your baptism you were anointed into the life of Christ: Priest, Prophet and King.
What some of the disciples found difficult to accept about God’s Kingdom was that rather than being established through decrees and laws, it required co-workers – themselves, and now us. We have work or mahi to do as nurturers of Jesus’ kingdom of integrity, peace, and hope.
The pattern of saying ‘Yes’ to this mission of building the kingdom comes from Mary. That is why Pope Francis has chosen Mary’s response to God’s call as the theme of our World Youth Day: “may it be done to me according to your word”.
Mary first came to know about this work through the Annunciation. It’s one of my favourite stories. Mary remains strong within the mystery unfolding. She questions the Angel Gabriel – how can this be? – and in fact doesn’t come to an answer but an act of faith: “Let it be done to me according to your Word.”
As we begin to prepare for World Youth Day, it is good therefore that we too ask ourselves the question: what do you Lord want from me? That’s the question Pope Francis wants us to ask ourselves.
How can we enter into that question as we prepare spiritually for WYD? There are lots of possibilities but as we move into Advent – the season of watchfulness – we might like to try and increase our quiet times, we might read the Annunciation story (you will find that in Luke’s Gospel, chapter one verses 26-38), we also might get to a weekday Mass alongside Sunday Miha, and we might also like to spend time in front of Mary’s statue or chapel in your local church. Those of you who are creative might like to draw a contemporary image of Mary? In fact, the Church has a great need for contemporary images of Mary which speak to us of the truth of this woman who knew Jesus more than any person on earth, and knew the value of contemplation – pondering (Mary’s word)– in order to then to commit in faith to God’s call.
Finally, please take a look at this YouTube clip of Pope Francis himself encouraging us all to prepare for our great hikoi –
As I said, it’s taken a while for World Youth Day to come to the surface of my pretty busy radar screen but now that it has I am really excited about this great adventure in faith that lies before us. We will come to know each other better and all of us, me included, will I am sure be reinvigorated in our faith as we journey from Aotearoa to Panama and return.
Let’s pray for each other.
Kia tau ngā manaakitanga o te Ariki ki runga ki ā koutou.
Bishop of the Diocese of Palmerston North