Thursday, 19 April 2012

How will we be ambassadors of Christ?

Bishop John Arnold posed some challenging questions to students in the Veritas group at St Dominic’s Sixth Form College, in Harrow, on Wednesday 18 April.

The Veritas group meet regularly to deepen their understanding of the Catholic faith. Bishop John was invited to speak to the group of young people studying for their As Levels on the subject of ‘Faith, the Gospel and Action’.

The talk began with Bishop John sharing some of his experiences of working with CAFOD. He touched on positive initiatives set up in East Timor and Sri Lanka that have improved the lives of thousands of people, but he also spoke of the terrible atrocities being committed in some African states and the need for healing and renewal.

Why is CAFOD there, Bishop John asked? The Catholic development charity have a budget of £55 million this year, the majority of which has been donated by people and parishes. Why are people so generous?

Another example of vital charitable work being carried out from within our diocese is that of the Cardinal Hume Centre, Bishop John highlighted. The homelessness charity has been helping to rehabilitate young people who have fallen on hard times for over 25 years. What is there motivation?

The answer to all of these questions lies in the Gospels, Bishop John said. People who believe in God and in the lessons taught by Jesus feel an innate call to express God’s love for us by helping others. We are all given skills and talents and we should utilise them to help make the world a better place.

Using examples from St Paul’s letters to the Philippians, Bishop John reminded those present that sticking to the rules is often not enough to truly make a difference. Social justice, acting on the teachings of the Gospels, takes courage and commitment in order to be proactive Christians.

A vocation that benefits others is crucial for living happy and meaningful lives. Pursuing a self-interested career is likely to leave us isolated and regretful of decisions made by misguided motivations of money or fame. A vocation that affects others in a positive way, however, is more likely to give us a lasting sense of achievement and value.

And, for us, it all starts now – whether it be providing research for CAFOD policy makers, coordinating the efforts of Catholic charities, supporting MPs in their fundraising and engagements, promoting the work of the diocese’s schools and parishes, or...whatever it is that Matthew does.

Discerning our purpose is key to realising our potential. But are we listening to God’s plan for us, asked Bishop John? Are we open to letting Him lead us in the direction He knows we should be going? How will we be ambassadors for Christ?

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