Newsletter of the Marist Schools Australia

 A newsletter for Member Schools of Marist Schools Australia published fortnightly during term time –  25 March 2014

Dear Brothers, Colleagues and Friends In a slightly bizarre example of life imitating art, for a while there it looked like Vladimir Putin might have been using Tom Clancy’s last novel Command Authority as his game plan for Crimea. But then it all ended differently: rather than CIA agent Jack Ryan’s single-handedly saving the free world and jetting off quietly into the sunset, the Ruskies appeared to have prevailed. Awkward outcome. Yet so much of the last month looked like it was unfolding uncannily along the lines of the Clancy script. Have a read, if you enjoy saturation levels of espionage and action.

Despite novelists’ and screen-writers’ predilection for John Wayne style messiahs, and our appetite for the buying the stories they spin, it rarely plays out that way in reality. It didn’t for Jesus, Mel Gibson’s take on him notwithstanding.

Last Sunday’s Gospel reading, as well as that of next Sunday, both from John, explore the kind of messiah that Jesus was. There is little action or espionage. No Jack Ryan daring-do. The first passage – the meeting between Jesus and the Samaritan woman – takes up the name “messiah”, “Christ”; the second uses the term “rabbi”. Who was Jesus for these people, each of them coming from outside acceptable society – the woman a dreaded Samaritan, the man ostracised for being afflicted with blindness? How was Jesus messiah or rabbi for them? Why did he have such a life-transforming effect on them?

He sat with them and he talked with them.

He shouldn’t have, of course. They weren’t the sort of people with whom decent people kept company. But he did. Jesus saw deeply into them, and he believed in them. He spoke the truth to them, their truth – gently, respectfully, personally. Their saving didn’t come as a result of any slick magic tricks or brilliant outmanoeuvring of some enemy. It came through touching into what was best in them – their innate human goodness, and their being beloved of God. The woman’s thirst was satisfied; the man’s eyes were opened. Their resulting joy was contagious.

The Gospel readings of the Sundays of Lent invite each of us into a similar encounter with Jesus. There is a profundity about that invitation if we are open to it.

Some years ago the U.S. Bishops published a pastoral letter on Catholic schools entitled To Teach as Jesus Did. The Scriptures which the Church gives us for Lent point us to a key aspect of the way Jesus taught – that of the simple, truthful and loving relationship. Spending time with people, and spending it well. Marcellin had the same intuition; we call it “presence”. The way in which we Marists understand that term doesn’t mean, as Woody Allen’s might say, just “showing up”. For us it implies “being with” – indeed seeking out every opportunity to be with young people, and to affect them quietly and respectfully by who we are, by the goodness and promise we see in them, and just a little bit by what we say.


Brother Michael Green fms


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