Image by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
It seemed a long wait to find out who would replace Cardinal George Pell as the Archbishop of Sydney, but the timing of the happy announcement was providential, coming as it did at the end of a tense day for our city and country.
The day had dawned with police raids shutting down terrorist plots in Sydney and Brisbane, and ended with a protest in south-west Sydney by a group of Muslims feeling that they were being unfairly targeted.
At his press conference the next day, Archbishop-elect Anthony Fisher said that, “If people there are feeling alienated at the moment, we’ve got to reach out to them, that they are our fellow citizens and that we care about them”.
Surely this is what we need to do right now, and we’re being presented with great teaching moments for our children in these days where there is war and other strife in the world which impacts our lives here.
We attend prayer vigils, we donate to Caritas, we talk about the need for peace and justice around the dinner table.
They don’t need to know any details of atrocities being committed or numbers of people fleeing homelands, fighting for their lives, or dying of viruses. Our children have little idea of what is going on beyond their own lives of home, school, church, family and friends. That’s as it should be.
They do need do know if they are worried by anything they hear or see that they are safe and that the most important peace-building work we can do is in our own homes, neighbourhoods, and communities.
My first reaction to the news of the appointment was to want to take the children to the new Archbishop’s installation Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral. Then, remembering the day’s other news, I had a split second of hesitation – would it be safe to go?
Isn’t that just what the devil would love though? For us to become too afraid to celebrate large events in our city? Too cautious about welcoming new migrants or refugees who move into our neighbourhoods? Too cynical to pray earnestly and hopefully for peace?
Right now I feel that we need to not reduce, but amplify our living; to build relationships, to be kind to the suffering and needy, to live our faith boldly, and to be happy because all our hope is ultimately in Jesus Christ and no matter what happens he has got us covered.
Our children will see and later, in the light of history, remember how we behaved these days. Whether we prayed and worked for peace or helped to fuel the fires of war.
This was originally published in The Catholic Weekly.