Archbishop's Advent Pastoral Letter 2009
My dear people,
The key truth communicated by Jesus is that the world is a new creation brought into existence through His life, death and resurrection. The resurrection, God’s seal on all Jesus said and did, created a new world for all. Not only did it fill Jesus with new life but it overflowed into the entire universe embracing each and every person. The power of the Holy Spirit made it possible for us to become new persons, with new hearts, new minds, at the centre of a new creation. Overcome by the goodness of Jesus evil was conquered and a new world born, which Jesus encouraged us to see if only we would open our eyes. When we did so we realised we live in the certainty of His redemption despite the evil, old and new, that breaks into God’s world, who regards “A thousand years as a day.” (2 Peter 3:8). All of us are loved into existence by God and maintained in existence by that love. Because of Jesus, each and every one of us is a child of God in whom God’s Holy Spirit lives, giving each one of us a profound dignity that nothing can destroy. Nevertheless despite that dignity we are all capable of evil manifest through violence, in anger, alcohol, drugs, theft, sheer selfishness, and finally in the destruction of our environment, OR at its worst in the destruction of human life, deliberately or indeliberately. In the midst of such violence the profound dignity of people is forgotten, as selfishness reigns supreme and respect for life vanishes. Sadly violence is often accompanied by the breakdown of law and order that moves the world towards chaos. In the midst of that chaos the dignity of human life can be easily forgotten so that children, the most vulnerable members of our world, are destroyed for the selfish purposes of a few. In today’s society people can be metaphorically blind when they choose surrogacy for children without considering the well-being of the children concerned, or even worse when children are protected generously outside the womb, but not always inside. Without a second thought too many people in our society lobby for the decriminalisation of abortion. When that happens how can we boast that we are a civilized people? Just as we shudder at the killing of our brothers and sisters in other countries of the world, how can we tolerate without shame the 80,000 abortions that happen each year in Australia. Thankfully Australians are scandalised by executions that happened in the past, but if we do so why do so many people tolerate the termination of the lives of young children in the womb without protesting about the horror and injustice of it all. In John 10:10 Jesus said that He had come to bring us life and life in its fullness, but how can we as Christians reject and destroy the very life He brought to the world through His suffering and death.
Many reasons are suggested as to why terminations take place at all in our so called civilised society. However those of us who never experience the pressures that force other people into violence, need to offer them all the support we can. It is natural that we condemn violence, nevertheless we should never attack people who should know better unless we do everything we can to assist them, as they deal with profound pressures that very few of us could face. Already excellent organisations, mostly Catholic, exist in our Archdiocese to help people in need, namely: ‘Walking with Love’, ‘Pregnancy Counselling Link’ ‘Pregnancy Crisis Inc.’ ‘Priceless Life’. All these organisations assist people caught in circumstances beyond their control, especially young people. While admiring such organisations I can only hope that the Archdiocese does everything possible in the future financially and pastorally to assist such organisations so that they can do even more good. For all of those people who are our brothers and sisters in Christ we need to do everything possible to bring them the peace they so desperately need.
My dear people I am speaking about these matters as we enter the season of Advent because I am aware of the unfortunate legislation that was recently framed in Victoria and could just as easily be implemented here in Queensland. During Advent let us all pray passionately that this will not happen.
As we move towards Advent let us remember not merely the new life that Jesus brought to the world in the stable of Bethlehem, but also His later attempts to change the world for the better by reaching out to all people, especially those less fortunate, whom He described as the “little ones” of the world. This Christmas as we gaze on the child in the manger let us pause for a moment to realise the rejection He experienced in Bethlehem and the even greater rejection he experienced on the cross of Calvary. That rejection is a sign of His great love for us all, especially for the less fortunate. During Advent please pray for the little ones of the world, born or yet to be born, in Australia and in those countries of the world where adults and children at this very moment are experiencing poverty and violence. Let us never forget God’s little ones who for many reasons will never experience life in this world, as we do. God as Jesus came to us in Bethlehem and remains with us always. Let us never forget His presence within us, but especially in the little ones of our world. May Advent be a time of preparation for the magnificent presence of God at Christmas that fills all of us with new life and energy.
Archbishop John Bathersby
November 29, 2009