WelCom June/July 2022
Fr James Lyons
Thinking it would help to build a sense of community in the parish, I asked parishioners to sit in a different seat next time they came to Sunday Mass. It was a major pastoral error and quickly became the talk of the parish!
‘What does he mean, shift to a different seat?’ ‘I’m not shifting. I’ve always sat there!’ ‘He might be the parish priest but he’s not telling me where to sit!’
“If you are awake to the God of Interruption you will be ready for an amazing life.”
I hadn’t anticipated the tsunami that would follow my request. The nearest I got was seeing some couples simply changing places, and smiling at me as they did so!
Change is never easy, especially when it challenges our usual routine. I was interrupting what people had regarded for so long as normal. And no one likes being interrupted.
Attachment to routine can become a huge problem when you let God into your life. We may not be able to know the mind of God, but we can certainly label God as the God of Interruption!
The feast of Corpus Christi – The Body and Blood of Christ – on June 19 is a festival full of challenge and interruption, centred on the feeding a huge crowd with very little food.
Luke’s account (Lk 9:11-17) has Jesus challenging his disciples to find a different solution when they thought they could just send the people off to buy food in the nearby villages. Their relationship with Jesus was one of constant ‘interruption’ – pushing them to think and act differently.
He warned them of his approaching death – but they were shocked when it happened. They didn’t expect the Passover Meal that Thursday evening to be the last they would have with Jesus. And they certainly weren’t ready for him to take ordinary bread and wine and declare them to be himself! Perhaps even more shocking was his expectation that they would do the same: to become food and drink for others in memory of him!
Reflect on these interruptions: the disciples’ expectation that Jesus would restore the kingdom to Israel is interrupted when Jesus tells them that seizing political power is not his agenda; he interrupts their assumption that the people should get their own food by telling the disciples: you give them something to eat! And he interrupted the routine and ritual of the Passover Meal to transform it into a sacred encounter with himself.
If you are awake to the God of Interruption you will be ready for an amazing life. If we as People of God are prepared to recognise the God of Interruption, we will not be unbending when our comfort is challenged or fearful when we don’t have all the answers.
The God of Interruption has been at work in our archdiocese as we have had to look at new ways of living and celebrating our Faith. Who would’ve expected even ten years ago we would be reducing the number of parishes from 46 to 23? Or that our cathedral would have been found earthquake-prone and subsequently closed for four years – and still not opened?
The God of Interruption calls us to be ready for what we cannot yet know; to be generous and honest in taking check of our own motives and our own reasons for believing; to put aside pettiness; to willingly accept a shared responsibility for the future of our Church.
For each of us, the most shocking encounter with the God of Interruption is the moment of Communion – that moment which is both extremely personal and intimately communal – and hearing the words, the Body of Christ…the Blood of Christ. A new interruption imposes itself every time and no one should walk away unchanged.
Freshly baked and prepared for service, those fed by Jesus become food for others.
And where you sit has nothing to do with it!