Te Tau Tapu o te Atawhai – He whakakākahu i te hunga kore kākahu
‘I was lacking clothes and you clothed me…’ Matthew 25:36
‘He does not oppress anyone, but restores to the debtor his pledge, commits no robbery, gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with a garment. Ezekiel 18:7
Clothe the Naked
Learn the facts about poverty in Aotearoa New Zealand. Nakedness is being stripped of rights or dignity. Help someone to find employment; assist St Vincent de Paul shops; gift clothes from your own wardrobe; pay for a child’s schooling; clear someone’s debt…
Clothing the Naked – With Christ
Fr James B Lyons
You have become a new creation and have clothed yourself with Christ. These words accompany the presentation of the stole or white garment following baptism. They are taken from St Paul’s letter to the Galatians (3:27-28) and indicate the baptised has been given a new life and the nakedness of birth is now clothed with the warm covering of Christ’s redeeming presence.
Such an image is a reminder that ‘clothing the naked’ is not just about providing clothes for the physical body, ensuring people are well-shod, warm and protected from the weather.
Clothing the naked is…also about bringing people to an awareness of the covering that awaits them when belief in Jesus Christ becomes part of their life.’
It is also about bringing people to an awareness of the covering that awaits them when belief in Jesus Christ becomes part of their life. We are ‘naked’ without Christ, incomplete and unprotected. Clothing the naked can therefore be a call to evangelise – to introduce the ‘Christ image’ to those around you.
Clothes have their own power to attract attention. Most people make an effort to look good, presentable. We admire a dress or suit and want to buy something similar. Styles and fashions become popular by the way they’re promoted. We are usually put off by a lack of taste: ‘Oh, I wouldn’t want to be seen dressed like that!’
Clothed with Christ, the Christian has a marvellous wardrobe that cannot fail to attract.
St Paul describes it: ‘Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience…. Over all these things to keep them together and complete them, put on love.’ [Colossians 3:12-14]. These are the qualities of Christ’s love. They are the garments he wore.
Writing to the Ephesians, St Paul uses the soldier’s battle dress to make the same point: ‘fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace…take the shield of faith…Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit. [Eph 6:14-17]
In these winter months, a contemporary version for someone like you or me could be this: Put on the scarf of sincerity and truth; wrap yourself in the warm coat of welcome and belonging; wear the hat of faithfulness and the soft gloves of mercy; put on shoes that will ignore the wet and mud and walk gently the path of peace.
When we live life authentically, Jesus knew that others would not be able to resist dressing the same way.
It’s quite wonderful to realise that one of the great works of mercy, to clothe the naked, can be fulfilled by simply living the life we’ve been given – the life of Christ, the gift of baptism. When we live this life authentically, Jesus knew that others would not be able to resist dressing the same way.
You have become a new creation and have clothed yourself with Christ.
As the chosen of God, then, the holy people whom he loves,
you are to be clothed in heartfelt compassion, in generosity
and humility, gentleness and patience.
Bear with one another; forgive each other if one of you has a complaint against another.
The Lord has forgiven you; now you must do the same.
Over all these clothes, put on Love – AROHA – the perfect bond.
Clothed in Christ
Exposed! To be seen as we truly are!
For this month’s writings I have reflected on the Act of Mercy ‒ ‘Clothe the naked’. Very quickly I was led to reflect on the word with which I began this article: ‘exposed’.
Initially, I was reading this word ‘exposed’ in the light of that ultimate fear I have ‒ and I presume many of us do ‒ of being found in public naked, totally exposed. But the more I have pondered I have become aware of how we are actually ‘exposed’. Our true values are shown to those around us by the things we use to surround ourselves or cover ourselves up with.
Everything from hoodies and patches to Gucci and Chanel, from the colour of the rugby jersey to the coat picked up at St Vincent de Paul to ward off the cold. They all speak to those around us, they all ‘expose’ the reality of who I am and more often than not, of those who are seeing not the disguise but my unadorned self!
‘The joy of our Baptism was that we are clothed in Him, as with a white garment, we are a new creation by having ‘taken on Christ’.’
This is actually also the starting point of our Christian life! We are over and over again asked to face the reality of ourselves, that deep awareness that without the love of God, made visible in Jesus Christ, we are naked. The joy of our Baptism was that we are clothed in Him, as with a white garment, we are a new creation by having ‘taken on Christ’.
This repeats over and over again in our Christian life. When we pray for the living and the dead we are always praying for the gift of life, love, welcome, peace, forgiveness, and, more often than not, we pray that the Lord would ‘clothe’ us in these gifts!
We are aware that these are gifts; they are placed over us, on us, and they become the first thing others see of the person wearing them.
In our modern world we have many ‘things’ or ‘possessions’ with which to cover our nakedness and in the same way they clearly speak about our inner self.
‘You are Baptised into union with Christ, and now you are clothed so to speak with the life of Christ himself.’ Gal. 3:27
The simple message from this month’s readings is that we are called to clothe the nakedness of both ourselves and our neighbour by a gifting, yes with essential warm clothing, but more ‒ with a whole being we can celebrate and be joyful in. The challenge is to grow into the gift we have been given to cover our nakedness. We are called to be totally at ease in a unity between ‘who I am’ and ‘how you see me’. And what are the characteristics of being exposed as a follower of Christ clothed in the Holy Spirit? You will look at me, and I will look myself, as one who brings: life, welcome, peace, forgiveness, patience, listening, and a presence of service. In a community enlivened by the Holy Spirit we will be known as those who wear the white garment of the baptised!
We would have been ‘exposed’, for all the world to see, as a people clothed in Christ!!
Mountain of Mercy
During the month of July, Archdiocesan parishioners were invited to donate new pairs of shoes and socks for school-aged students in need of footwear.
Hundreds of pairs of new shoes and socks were donated to literally make a shoe mountain.
St Vincent de Paul Society volunteers organised to collected the shoes and on Sunday 24 July, the shoes were piled outside the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart to make a ‘Mountain of Mercy’.
Many parishioners are aware as parents, how quickly children grow out of shoes and how shoes are a ‘big-ticket’ item. For some families this is a financial strain.
The energy, enthusiasm and delight of those receiving their new shoes was abundant.
This generous initiative in the Year of Mercy, which has connected people’s empathy to those who are struggling, has been a practical event where parishioners could easily respond.
Organisers thank all involved and especially parishioners who took Cardinal John Dew’s invitation for help to their hearts. People have either bought shoes or made donations for shoes to be bought. Thanks also to St Vincent de Paul volunteers who are distributing the shoes and socks to schools in need.
If you would like to contribute you can leave pairs of new shoes at the Catholic Centre, 22‒30 in Hill Street, Thorndon, (attention Lorraine McArthur or phone (04) 496-1796).
Loved for Life
‘Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world, for indeed that’s all who ever have.’ Margaret Meads
Community organisation LOVED 4 LIFE™ was set up in 2007 by Marcia Guest McGrath in Te Horo on the Kapiti Coast, as a response to the violence that occurs against children, particularly after the death of the Kahui twins.
We believe every child is a gift and should be loved for life. We wanted a unique and special way to reach out to families in our local community after the birth of a new baby to show they are loved and supported. We started as a small team, with support from St Margaret’s Anglican Church and the Te Horo community. Our mission was to welcome every baby born into our community by making them their own special ‘Loved’ bassinette quilt and then gifting and hand delivering it to the family. We also started taking a home-cooked meal with us to the family to enjoy.
Our LOVED 4 LIFE™ vision of connecting with families, and supporting them to love their children for life, became a reality. Since January 2008 we’ve helped over 1300 families in communities around New Zealand and given out over 3000 quilts of LOVE.
We have grown to 14 member chapters across church and community groups in the North Island. We’re inter-denominational and reach out to families of all ethnicities and faiths. We believe strong families build strong communities, which in turn build a strong country – one family at a time.
We are indebted to over 160 volunteers who sew quilts, make meals and knit woollen garments for families with newborn babies in the chapter areas. Barbara Ratcliffe and her team in Waikanae from Our Lady of Kapiti Parish have worked extremely hard over the past seven years to show families in their community, God’s love and community support.
Our goal is that every New Zealand baby will be LOVED 4 LIFE™ and parents will have the skills to make this happen.
We have three steps to achieve this.
We make and deliver a special ‘Loved’ quilt for each newborn baby in our community, appliqued with the word ‘Loved’ and a heart. The LOVED 4 LIFE™ label on the back has the baby’s name with the words, ‘May God’s love like sunlight surround you’.
We make and deliver a meal to the family to assist them in that busy time after a birth.
We share good-parenting practice through speakers at morning teas for new parents to meet and to gain support from the older generation.
Babies are one of the most vulnerable groups in society and need ‘clothing’, literally and metaphorically. We view our quilts and the concept of LOVED 4 LIFE™ as ‘clothing the naked’ in not only God’s love and protection but also clothing families with the knowledge they are loved and supported by their community.
For more information, or to set up a chapter in your own community, see our website www.loved4life.com or contact me, Helen Thompson, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Helen Thompson is National Leader LOVED 4 LIFE™.
A Dangerous Exposure
Last year Pope Francis released his second encyclical, Laudati Si’, subtitled ‘On Care for our Common Home’. In it, he talks about the Church’s teaching on the environment and human ecology and gives a worldwide wakeup call for ‘every person living on this planet’. A year on since its release Fr Tom Rouse reflects.
It is a tragic irony that in clothing our world’s atmosphere with steadily growing layers of greenhouse gases we strip the earth of those things that make for a healthy planet.
The consequences are melting ice caps, receding glaciers and rising sea levels that threaten the survival of low-lying islands.
By trapping the sun’s energy within this gaseous cocoon, we witness unprecedented drought conditions, uncontrollable bush fires, and violently turbulent weather patterns.
The average global temperatures over the past 25 years have been higher than any period since at least 1600CE.
Meanwhile a debate has raged over the cause of this change. Is it due to natural causes or is it the result of human activity?
Pope Francis chose to enter this debate just over a year ago with the release of his encyclical Laudato Si’ and came down on the side of those who argue that the life-style of the rich, which is largely dependent upon the burning of fossil fuels and the wasteful exploitation of the earth’s limited resources, has seriously damaged our planet. By stripping the earth of those resources that could ensure a healthy life-style for all, we not only inflict pain upon the earth but we also allow for this global inequality. As Pope Francis said, ‘to hear the cry of the earth is to also hear the cry of the poor’ (n. 49).
Towards the end of last year (2015), the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP 21) took place in Paris. In a remarkable conclusion to this conference, 196 nations signed an agreement to limit climate change to 2 degrees by the middle of this century.
In April of this year, 174 nations gathered at the United Nations headquarters in New York to sign a more strongly-worded climate-change pact. This was unprecedented in UN history. But while the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon noted the historic moment, he went on to say, ‘But records are also being broken outside; record global temperatures. Record ice loss. Record carbon levels in the atmosphere. We are in a race against time.’
Sadly, New Zealand commitment has been very poor. At Paris, our negotiators committed New Zealand to reduce carbon emissions to 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, and for an emission rate of 11 per cent below our 1990 output. This would lead to the equivalent of a 3.5 to 3.8 degree temperature increase. This is way above the two per cent threshold that would be required to ensure we leave future generations with a planet worth living in.
Let us not forget the challenge of Pope Francis and the hope of UN negotiators at the 2015 Paris conference. Let us call upon future negotiators to better represent New Zealanders and provide policies that show we are also committed to effective climate change.
To commit ourselves to clothing the naked is, in an adaptation of Gerard Manly Hopkins’ memorable poem, to commit ourselves to re-charging the earth with the grandeur of God.
Fr Thomas Rouse is Mission Coordinator, St Columbans Mission Society, Lower Hutt.
‘God’s Grandeur’ (1877) Gerard Manley Hopkins
The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; Bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.
And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.
Gerard Manley Hopkins SJ (b. 1844, Essex, UK; d. 1899 Dublin, Ireland) was an English poet, convert to Catholicism, and a Jesuit priest. He is considered among the leading Victorian poets.