Marist School Australia – MSA Newsletter

Dear Brothers, Colleagues and Friends
Did you see that they blew up Jonah’s grave last week? Not Jonah from Tonga, but the Prophet. The Old Testament guy. Nothing left of it. Gone.

IS did it. In Mosul – the ancient city of Nineveh. Jonah didn’t fit their fundamentalist Sunni narrative, apparently. Nor, of course, do the shrinking number of Christians there who, for the first time in the best part of two millennia, have not been able to celebrate the Eucharist in this ancient city.

A nasty thing, power. It’s different from authority. Authority is what Jesus had, indeed what the figurative Jonah had. Prophets speak with authority, and that can rile people in power. Sister Jan Barnett RSJ did that last week when, with eight others involved in the radical activity of a prayer vigil outside Joe Hockey’s office in North Sydney, she was arrested. Jan and her friends were doing what an increasing number of people are doing around the country: expressing their deep dismay at the forced detention of children, and calling our leaders to account. How can a humane society lock up kids? They weren’t using arms or violence to achieve their purposes. They were praying. And they were briefing the media. Modern day prophets.

“Prophet” is perhaps a designation that we may be reluctant to use about ourselves. We may think it somewhat presumptuous. Understandably so. But, if we can put aside our instinctive Australian suspicion of claims to grand titles, let’s stay with the concept. In his most recent Circular to Marists around the world, the Superior General, Brother Emili, urged us all to be prophets. Prophets and mystics. They go together, really; you can’t be one without the other, at least not in a Christian sense. To be a prophet is simply to bring the mind and heart of God to our lived experience, and to the people with whom we share this time and place. But to have some sense of the mind and heart of God, self-evidently one must spend time with God, one must be alert to the deeper realities of humanity, of creation, of oneself. One must be a mystic in that sense.

Prophets can expect a rough time. Even poor old legendary Jonah is still having a hard time of it. Prophets are often up against powerful hegemony and a prevailing narrative that just don’t get concepts such as mercy, forgiveness, humility, and service. Power often prevails over authority. Even though we believe such victories to be pyrrhic and hollow, people are hurt by them. Right now young people are being hurt, and in our own front yard.

As educators of the young, as Christian educators, we are called to be mystics and prophets. Sure, with a little “m” and a little “p”, but no less genuine for that. Indeed, there is arguably nothing more important for us to be, if we are to teach with authority.

Brother Michael Green fms – NATIONAL DIRECTOR


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