I don’t need to remind you that Auckland city as well as other parts of the country have suffered unprecedented amounts of rain. Many people have had their lives turned upside down by the flooding. That on top of the cost-of-living crisis many are already facing, puts some people in dire straits.
And we hear in our reading today from the prophet Isaiah 58:7-10, 'Share your bread with the hungry and shelter the homeless poor'…. how timely. It is heartening to see Bishop Steve Lowe of the Auckland Diocese through the Caring Foundation calling for donations for flood relief.
And we’ve seen and perhaps know of many generous people often affected themselves helping to bring relief to people who are suffering and displaced- for example families opening their doors to other family members who have been affected. Some people shine during times of crisis, don’t they? They shine their light and they inspire us.
All of us are called by Jesus to shine our light in the Gospel taken from Matthew 5:13-16. Words of encouragement, practical support, humble service, wise teaching, listening, showing understanding and compassion are a few of the powerful ways.
Jesus asks us to shine our light in the sight of others not for our own sake or that others will sing our praises but that seeing our good works they may give the praise to the Father in Heaven. Of course, in secular NZ many do not acknowledge the Father in Heaven, but they may know that we are Christian and see that our faith makes a huge difference in our lives by the way we relate to and approach people treating them with dignity and respect.
How many stories have you heard of people coming to faith in Christ themselves through the humble witness of another person shining their light? Never underestimate the influence we can have. St Paul talks about the power of the Spirit working in us. It is that Spirit which will touch other people’s hearts. It is that Spirit that enlivens us, motivates us, gives us that spark and lightness of step. 'We are the salt of the earth, we are the light of the World'. Jesus has faith in us despite all the challenges we face.
On Monday we celebrate our National Day, Waitangi Day. Again, celebrating this day and honouring the founding document of our country especially as Christians can be a beacon to those around us and to the rest of the World- putting our light on the lampstand so to speak. There has been great progress to redress the injustices of the past but there is still much to be done. I leave you with the opening prayer of the Mass on Waitangi Day.
Every living God from whom all Sovereignty comes, in the unfolding of time you led the Maori people and many other peoples to find their home in this land so grant now that divisions be removed, that equity and justice be established and that we may all become one day citizens of heaven........
I have chosen two songs for you to listen to this week. One entitled ‘Veni Sancte Spiritus’( Come Holy Spirit) from ‘Light in the Lockdown’ for all those going through so much at this time and ‘He Waiata mo Waitangi’, a song I wrote in 1990 from my first album, ‘Under Southern Stars’ which was the 150th anniversary of the signing of the treaty.
Blessings on your week.