Archbishop's notes: February 2021

By Archbishop Malcolm McMahon

I am writing this during the week of prayer for Christian unity which ends on the feast of the Conversion of St Paul on 25 January. This great feast celebrates the moment when Saul realised in a powerful way that salvation was located in the person of Jesus Christ. There is a challenge implicit in this for every one of us; these days of lockdown can possibly be used to meet it. The challenge is whether or not we can be like St Paul and draw closer to the person of Christ.

It is unlikely that we are going to have a similar experience to him but in a less dramatic way we can get to know Jesus better through reading the Gospels and taking some extra time for prayer. Just listening to God through the words of Scripture and in silence is a pretty good place to start. It’s best not to take on obligations like saying certain prayers or committing to reading the psalms or saying the rosary if that is not your normal practice. Just begin at the beginning and the rest will follow.

The great Jewish prayer, the Shema, begins with the words ‘Listen O Israel, the Lord is our God' and goes on to say, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart’. These are words familiar to us from the lips of Jesus as well as the Book of Deuteronomy. Listening leads to loving, and indeed listening is an act of love. Listening to God in Jesus Christ will help us get to know him and love like him. This has to be the beginning of unity for all Christians.