A call to trust and to persevere.
This weekend at the Home of Compassion in Island Bay, Wellington, I have been part of a Taizé weekend. For those unfamiliar with Taizé it is a village in France that hosts thousands of young people each year from all over Europe and the World invited to search for communion with God through community prayer, song, silence, personal reflection and sharing. It was founded by Brother Roger Schütz during WW11 to foster peace and reconciliation. He himself in those early days hid and protected Jewish people on the run from the Nazi regime. It is non-denominational and is a place of welcome and hospitality. Br Matthew from Taizé has been present and led us during these days. It has been a weekend of bringing the Taizé style of prayer and song to our shores. Some of you will be familiar with the Taizé music, repetitive chant like scripture verses designed to still the soul and facilitate prayer. During Holy Week for example many places sing ‘Stay here and keep watch with me’ and ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom’. Both Taizé chants.
In this Sunday’s Gospel taken from Luke 21:5-19 Jesus predicts the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem and foretells other destructive forces and persecutions that will occur and encourages his followers not to be afraid. Not a hair of your head will be lost, he says. Your endurance will win you your lives. We know that the Temple was destroyed, and many Christians were persecuted and put to death in early Church history. Of course, it is still going on today in some places. Jesus was certainly not saying his followers would have it easy or live without suffering but invites us to let go of fear and hopelessness in the wake of things that happen around us. He challenges us to a life of trust and perseverance despite it all. It is easy for me to talk living in a relatively peaceful country sitting in my office chair typing this but so many of our brothers and sisters here and around the world live under hugely trying conditions. I do trust that Christ is with them in the thick of their trials, through their faith, acts of love towards others with them, acts of heroism and selfless sacrifice and even in the times they do feel hopeless and unable to endure. The heart of Christ weeps and suffers with them. The hearts and outreach of fellow Christians and humanitarian efforts are with them.
Brother Roger of Taizé himself was the victim of violence when he was in his 90’s, murdered by someone suffering mental illness visiting Taizé. He worked tirelessly for peace and reconciliation. His legacy has continued this past weekend as we have created a space of welcome and hospitality together at the Home of Compassion. I salute all those spaces of peace, reconciliation, welcome and hospitality throughout our broken and suffering world. Blessings on your own efforts in this area.
Listen to ‘Trust’ from ‘Ignatian Inspiration’ and pray for the gift of endurance and freedom from any paralysing fear you may have or that you know others may have. Let’s pray that for each other.