of Papua New Guinea
Diocese of Port Moresby
WHO AM I?
It is always good to start off by understanding who we really are. Not as we think we might be, or want to be, or how others think we are. We need to know who we are as God sees us. See ourselves as God saw us when he made us. What we are according to his plan. Then if we know how to look at ourselves and understand ourselves, we are in a good position to look at others and understand them. God made all people the same way. Saints and sinners alike.
The bible speaks of the image of God in a special way. It is a bit like a mirror reflection. What you see when you look in a mirror is a reflection of yourself. When you look at a human being then you see a little bit of God. We do not know what that really means, but it does tell us that there is something of God to be seen in the human person.
The word is also used to talk about someone who is a representative of a King. He would write a letter and send his messenger off to deliver it to the people he wanted to receive it. He would send him off with a ring or some sign so that the people would know that when this person spoke, it was the mouth of the King speaking and so they should listen. This person was seen as being the image of the King. Where he was, the King, in a special way, was also present.
Another way the word image has been seen comes to us from the shadow of a person. Some of the great spiritual writers would talk of man as being "God's shadow on earth", so that seeing man you knew something about the presence of God. That is really beautiful and takes us forward in our understanding of who we are. We note, of course, that there can be no shadow of anything unless there is some light shining behind the figure. It is the light of the sun that makes it possible for someone to cast a shadow on the earth.
God's glory is man fully alive said St Augustine of Hippo helping to remind his growing community of the wonder of our human existence (see also Psalm 8). All human beings are God's way of showing others who he is. We all have that Divine life within us for if it is not there then we die and return to the dust. Sin did not end that. God did not take away his breath from man when Adam ate the fruit. This means that men and women are still very special and very precious ways of God revealing himself to the world.
Who is that? That means that when we look at another person, what we should see first of all is God looking back at us. Even if they are sinners God is still there looking out. When we respond to people, speak to them, do things with them or to them, we should first of all remind ourselves that we are doing and saying these things to the God who is alive within this person. Thinking about those things will help us to be careful about just what we do.
Jesus, when he became man made this even clearer. He took on our humanity and so made all men and women his brothers and sisters, all children of the same Father he had. And remember that he did that "while we were still sinners". He did not worry about a person's sins. He loved them as they were.
Question: Is this how I see others, especially those I do not like?
WE ARE THE BODY OF CHRIST
St Paul reminds us in 1 Cor 12:12-31 that in baptism this holiness of men and women is even deeper than before. Now, in our baptism, we are joined together as a part of the Body of Christ himself! Jesus died on the cross and rose from the grave as Christ and all who are baptized become a part of his risen Body. Christians are an important way of just how Jesus continues in the world today. He has risen and gone to the Father, but he is alive in those who are baptized into his life. That means that every Christian has a special place within that Divine Body and also has a different part to play. When we look at ourselves, we see not only an image of God but we also see part of the Body of Christ.
Importantly: When we look at other people we also see other parts of the Body of Christ. We are not just looking at humans, but need to see under the skin to what they really are: Christ's Body among us. This should help us in working out how we think about them, what we say about them and what we do to them; for what we do to them, we are also doing to Christ (see Matt 25:31ff)
OUR PRAYER FOR THE WEEK
Loving Father, Redeeming Christ and all powerful Spirit. We ask your forgiveness for hurting you and failing to love you when we have hurt others and failed to go out to them in love.
Give us strength this week to change our lives. When we feel angry turn it to love. When we feel jealous, turn it to respect. When we want to reach out and hurt another person, show us instead how to love them. And God, show us to love also those we would like to ignore or forget.
In Jesus name we pray. Amen
YOU ARE TEMPLES OF GOD'S HOLY SPIRIT
Again in his first letter to the Christians at Corinth, Paul tells the people to always remember that they are "temples of the Holy Spirit who lives in you" (1 Cor 6:19). They are not just bodies, but people in whom the Spirit is living and moving. The Spirit does not just live up in heaven waiting for us to pray for him to come down and help us in our need. He is living inside each and every baptized person and when we meet those people we it is like coming to the Spirit's house and visiting him at home. This changes the way we understand ourselves and other people and should have a big effect on the way we react to them. Would we really like to be acting this way towards the Holy Spirit?
WHATEVER YOU DO........
In the story of the last judgment in Matt 25 Jesus makes it clear that what we do to others (Christians and non Christians) we do to him. That should make us stop and think. Would we really like to be treating Jesus the way we are now treating some of our neighbours? Would we really like to be saying about Jesus some of the things that we are saying about other people?
Think about it.....
My wife/husband is God present to me in a special way. Those people in the parish are a part of Christ's Body and make Jesus alive to me. Those people at work have the Spirit of God living in them. How am I treating that Trinity living all around me? Do I need to repent before it is too late (Matt 25:45-46).
This Diocese will never change until we learn to forgive, to allow God to heal and take away the hurts and pains of the past and until we learn to love and respect others as being Christ alive to us. Now is the time to begin.
DISCUSSION AND REFLECTION POINTS
- Read through Genesis 1:26, 1 Cor 6:19; 12:12-31; Matt 25:31-46 and share together on what they tell us about ourselves and about other people. How can these texts help us in our relationships with others?
- In the quiet of our own hearts, let each on of us think about our lives and see where we are failing. Who are we not treating as we would treat Christ? Where are we failing in our own homes, in our places of work, in groups we belong to, in our parish, in our community?
- What are the results of our failures to love?
- How can we change? What steps do we need to take to end this kind of behaviour? Should we change? Am I ready to change and will I now begin to work on change?
SOME PRAYERS FOR USE THROUGHOUT THE STUDY PROGRAMME
These prayers are provided so that as a Diocese we are sharing together common prayers and praying for the same kinds of things. There are special prayers built into the weekly discussions and these can be said through each of the weeks. These further prayers can be said by individuals, built into family prayers and used for all sorts of occasions. They do not all have to be said together but choices can be made. Some of them could well be learned off by heart and made a part of our own personal and family prayers.
Lord make me an instrument of your Peace.
Where there is hatred let me plant love.
Where there is injury, forgiveness,
Where there is doubt, faith,
Where there is despair hope,
Where there is darkness light
And where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much
seek to be comforted as to comfort,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive,
Forgiving that we are forgiven
And in dying that we are born to eternal life.
PRAYER TO THE HOLY SPIRIT
Come Holy Spirit
fill the hearts of your faithful
And light within us the fire of your divine love.
Send forth your spirit and we shall be created
and you will renew the whole of the earth.
O God who taught the hearts of the faithful
by the light of your Divine Spirit,
grant us by that same Spirit
that we may be truly wise,
and how to rejoice in your holy presence,
through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.
PRAYER OF LOVE
O my God,
I love you above all things,
with my whole heart and soul,
because you are all good and worthy of all love.
I love my neighbour as myself for the love of you.
I forgive all who have injured me
and I ask pardon of all whom I have injured,
through Christ our Lord. Amen.
THE JESUS PRAYER
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God,
Have mercy on me a sinner
THE PRAYER OF ST IGNATIUS OF LOYOLA
Teach us Lord,
to serve you as you deserve to be served;
To give and not to count the cost;
To fight and not worry about the wounds;
To work and not to look for rest
and not to ask for any other reward
except that of knowing
that we do your will,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
PRAYER OF ST RICHARD of CHICHESTER
Day by day,day by day,
O dear Lord,
Three things I pray:
To see you more clearly.
To love you more dearly.
To follow you more nearly.
Day by day.
AN EVENING PRAYER
O my God I adore you
And I love you with all my heart.
I thank you for having created me
and for saving me by your grace,
And for having kept me safe during the day.
I pray that you wil take for yourself
Whatever good I have done this day
And that you will forgive me
Whatever evil I have done.
Protect me this night
And may your grace be with me always. Amen.
A MORNING PRAYER
O my God I adore you
And love you with al my heart.
I thank you for having created me
And for saving me by your grace,
And for having kept me safe during the night.
I offer you all of my prayers,
Works, joys and sufferings of this day.
Grant that they may be all according you your will
And for your glory.
Keep me from sin and evil
And may your grace be with me always.