Reflections for November

By Father Chris Thomas

We recently held our Come and See conference at which we were privileged to hear the wisdom of Father Timothy Radcliffe OP, the keynote speaker.

He shared many of his experiences from his travels around the world and his thoughts on how we can engage our young people in the Church. We were moved to tears, we laughed and we recognised the importance of meeting and experiencing the pain and sorrow of others.

Fr Timothy challenged us to take a radical response to our faith – because in doing so we achieve freedom. He said that in following the Gospel we are challenged to choose the wild and dangerous rather than the safe options, something Pope Francis has also challenged us to do in his apostolic exhortation The Joy of the Gospel.

It made me think about my own responses in faith, about where I need to be working and about what I need to share in my ministry.

Fr Timothy also spoke about the film Of Gods and Men. It is the story of a community of nine Trappist monks who lived in harmony with the largely Muslim population of Algeria until seven of them were kidnapped and assassinated. It is a moving depiction of how these men were challenged to live the Gospel, knowing that it would ultimately lead to their death. It depicts a community response to support – and to be with – the people they live among.

We meet the poor and desperate every day in our own lives – and the challenge is how we respond.  
Our society gives us its image of how to gain freedom, offering a future of wealth and happiness if we have more money and build a kingdom around us that enables us to control our future. However, for the Gospel, our future lies in the way we are able to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim release to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, and to let the oppressed go free.

Can you meet the challenge of choosing the radical and wild option?