The Eleventh Station, ‘Jesus entrusts his disciples with a universal mission’. When most people hear the words ‘the Eleventh Station’ they think ‘Jesus is Nailed to the Cross’, which is of course the 11th Station of the Cross (Via Crucis).
However, this Easter I have been praying with the Via Lucis, the Paschal Way of Light, 14 reflective stations in which we are able to pray the mysteries of Jesus’ life after the resurrection.
The reflection speaks about the fact that Jesus chose apostles and sent them out to do something new. In making his apostles new they became very different. Jesus made them ‘other Christs’. He ensured their mission would also always be the same as Jesus’ mission.
This is the same for all of us who are baptised. His mission becomes our mission. Our mission is not only to teach people about Jesus but to ensure that we respond to the people around us in the way that he did.
A few days ago as I reflected on this station, I thought of our recent Archdiocesan Pastoral Council meeting. Members were asked to think of some of the emerging trends in society, what is happening in New Zealand today, and then to reflect on how we as church can respond to these events. We can then see that a response is part of our mission, part of what we’re on about as disciples.
For example, some of the things mentioned at the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council were the fact that today 28 percent of children starting school come from a home where there is only one parent. What does this mean for our schools and parishes in supporting people, where there has been the sadness of a marriage breakup. How do we ensure that solo parents are supported and that these children are given every opportunity to grow and develop as human beings.
The council talked about the number of elderly people in society who need love, practical and spiritual support. Today people often don’t go into rest homes until they’re very sick. They often struggle financially and could do with the support and care of others in the community while still in their own homes.
As we reflected, I also thought of how essential it is for parish pastoral councils to think about how parish communities are reaching out to the needy. Parishes need to think about our mission as disciples and what all are able to do to put into practice the mission of the church.
In many cases archdiocesan pastoral councillors remarked on a lack of awareness of the basics of Catholic faith and asked what we could do to continue to promote life-long education in faith. How many parish councils have some system in place to encourage their councils and parishioners to take some courses through the Wellington Catholic Education Centre and therefore grow in knowledge of their faith?
There are many immigrants in our society: how open are our parishes to those who come to New Zealand looking for a new start, perhaps hoping for a whole new way of life? Do our parishes welcome them and ensure that they know they are welcome?
The above are simply a few of the things we spoke about. I invite parish pastoral councils to reflect in this way on the emerging trends in society and to ask what our parishes, communities and organisations can do to make a difference in our world. Remember the Eleventh Station of the Via Lucis, ‘Jesus entrusts his disciples with a universal mission’.
As we prepare for Pentecost all of us will be gifted with the power of the Holy Spirit. We will be reminded many times soon of the World Youth Day theme: ‘you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be my witnesses’.
Remember Jesus’ mission is our mission. We are all asked to look at society, pray and reflect and then do something about the needs in our society today.