by Frances Correia

We Christians are invited repeatedly by Jesus in the gospels to join with him in working to change the world and to bring about the kingdom of God. Every time we pray the ‘Our Father’ we are asking God for His kingdom to come here on earth, as it is in Heaven. The gospels are full of Jesus caution that we should not trust in riches or security, but that God desires us to be compassionate, to share our goods and to live simply and humbly.

These ideas are always I think going to be counter cultural. They are always going to be difficult. They are always going to challenge our basic desire for comfort, for power, for privilege, for security, for independence and autonomy.

So what is this invitation, this call that is fundamental to our lives as followers of Christ? It is a call to see beyond the narrow needs of my own life and the lives of my own family. For example, as a mother I know how much I love my own children. But the vocation of motherhood is also an invitation to love more than my own children. It is an invitation to love all the children I encounter. I was recently at a children’s birthday party, when, out of sight of a group of adults, a child started to scream. The speed of the response of the adults who jumped and ran, was something I have been reflecting on. Before I had children, I would have probably responded, but I know that since I have had children, that particular pitch of scream affects me profoundly, and I responded instinctively. If I read about or see pictures of children who are hurt it affects me more deeply since I have myself become a mother. In this I recognise an ongoing invitation by the Holy Spirit to action. It is an invitation to labour in the vineyard of the Lord. Being human sometimes I respond and often I don’t. But the invitation is always there.

Pope Francis reminds us of this call for our inner life to reflect our outer life. He writes that, “Being a Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction. Thanks solely to this encounter – or renewed encounter – with God’s love, which blossoms into an enriching friendship, we are liberated from our narrowness and self-absorption.” Pope Francis: Evangelii Gaudium

The Holy Spirit invites us to see God in one another, especially in the people we meet who are hurting, or afflicted, despised or impoverished. This is the challenge to all of us, to love our neighbour as ourselves. This month you may like to think of a particular gift you would like to give God, a gift of generosity towards another of God’s people.

You may also like to join us at the Jesuit Institute on our annual Ignatian Day on the 30th of July at Holy Family College Parktown as we think about how to ‘Look at the world with the eyes of God’. For more details please contact us at m.backwell@jesuitinstitute.org.za

First published in the AD News July 2016