21 February 2019

Faith Matters - Humility

Article by Mr Brendan Nicholls

Faith Matters - Humility

Reading the daily news can lead one to believe that justice is elusive in our world and that there is more isolation and rejection than inclusion and acceptance. In today’s news there are stories of antisemitism in Melbourne, challenges to President Trump’s ‘beautiful wall’, a shocking lack of services for our Indigenous communities, ongoing war in Middle East and the forced re-education of the Uighur people in China. During this week the world celebrates the World Day of Social Justice. This is quite a juxtaposition and worthy of some thought.

It seems there is so much wrong with the world today. There are so many people who use their position of authority to get what they want and force others to enable our act out their vision via proxy. Greed is the basis for all violence and injustice in our world. Greed is a desire manifested by the ego and disordered attachments. Greed it seems is part of how we are made no matter how good we think we are.

When looking at all the bad things that occur in our world it’s easy to become disillusioned and abandon hope for the future or change. This theme is explored under the banner of ‘Good and Evil’ in our Year 8 and Year 9 Religious Education courses at the College. Viewing the world objectively is a behaviour that needs investigation and practice if we are to have hope and see the hidden truth of our world. At an individual level we see many examples of good and can see many people who each day work to bring about justice in small and large ways. When we compare the amount of good and evil in the world it’s clear that good has the numbers. Thus we can be hopeful and positive about our world.

Our Ignatian tradition offers us a number of tools that can help us observe our world and our ability to live as we are called. In the second week of the Exercises, St Ignatius asks us to contemplate the Incarnation. Viewing the world as the Trinity does, looking down upon the Earth and people “in all their diversity of dress and appearance, some white and some black, some at peace and some at war, some weeping and others laughing, some healthy, others sick, some being born and others dying”. Then we are asked to contemplate the Trinity as the Divine Persons converse about their observations, saying, “Let us bring redemption to the human race”. From this basis Incarnation of Jesus and via the visitation to Our Lady occurs, and through him we are redeemed and have hope.

If we pause to review the daily news and our experiences through the lens the Trinity views the world, as illustrated in the Exercises, we may see things quite differently and objectively. When we view the world and our experiences in a similar way we can accept the world and yet still seek to reform injustices with great hope. At the College we offer many opportunities for students to facilitate change and offer their ‘good’ in the world.

On Tuesday nine of our students participated in a conference called ‘Your choice, Our Future’. The conference is a three-part event, that occurs via online video collaboration between students from Saint Ignatius College (Catholic), Sacred Heart College (Catholic), Mt Scopus College (Jewish) and Minaret College (Islamic). The conference facilitates interfaith dialogue about discrimination and injustice in our society. At the conclusion of the conference this week the students from the four Colleges were combined and split up to decide upon an issue in society that they would like to see change.

Over the next eight weeks the teams will develop a social media campaign to address a problem in our world, offer a message of hope and seek change in the world. The issues that they will choose to address are global and in reality will not be resolved for many years; if ever. However, in being bold and knowing that good will always overcome selfishness and greed they will make change.

As individuals we can also make great change in the world. In seeking to become better people we can make a difference. To be able to do so we need to change our nature. No matter how nice or kind or helpful we are we are not perfect. In accepting this fact, we are able to be humble and call upon God to help us change. Although we may make a decision to change it takes time and we need to be patient. Because God changes our hearts not just our thoughts and these changes are irreversible. When we give He receives and when He gives we receive. This relationship is perfect and enables us to change our nature as this relational framework flows outward as we interact with others and the world.

When we give of ourselves we reach out. This can be accepted or rejected and therefore we must be bold if we are to seek to make change in the world. If our offer is accepted, we become an illustration of Jesus at work in the world. If our offer is rejected, we have not lost. We have seen the face of Jesus in another or as Ignatius would say sought to ‘find God in all things’.

Regardless of whether we bring an end to overwhelming issues such as sexism, racism or slavery we have won. Good has overcome evil. Every time we speak out, are inclusive or challenge structures of injustice we win. Because we have been changed and have changed others.

As we draw closer to Lent I offer you a final thought from St Ignatius. In the Spiritual Exercises Ignatius introduces us to the Examen. He actually gives us three versions. The ‘particular daily examen with four additions’ may be worth considering if in humility you would like to change and remove disordered attachments, that lead us away from God and others. The particular examen encourages us to note the defect we seek to change and note each time we ‘fall into’ that behaviour during the day. As each day passes and the day is reviewed via the examen Ignatius notes that we will have evidence of change and God’s work within our heart.

I encourage you to consider the world in its current state. All of the good and the bad things that occur each day and how we can make change. Contemplate how you might become a better person each day and enter into a deeper relationship with God who will strengthen you and guide you. Finally, I hope you reflect upon these thoughts and are stimulated to seek change and share a vision of positivity with others.

Be bold, have hope, make change.

Yours in Christ,

Brendan Nicholls Liturgy Coordinator

Image – SICG students who participated in the Your Choice conference on 19/2/19 and facilitator Kate Wilde.