January 10th 2012 marked my welcome back to the office here at CAFOD North Wales from my extended Christmas period vacation. I returned home on Monday from visiting friends and loved ones in London and Scotland, and on Tuesday morning was back in our humble office at the Peace and Justice Centre which sits on Kingmills Road in Wrexham. After some supreme catching up the afternoon brought about a change of pace, and a welcome chance to reflect on the promise and opportunity that a new year brings.
Every month we here at CAFOD North Wales host a prayer meeting for our supporters, volunteers and staff members, this event is usually held on the first Tuesday of every month, with this month being a special exception as we get back into the swing of working life again after the Christmas period. So Tuesday 10th marked also our monthly prayer meeting for January. A rather lovely way to re-enter the world of work after what was a rather hectic couple of weeks away from it.
I was made all the happier by the knowledge that one of our Key volunteers: Maria Pizzoni would lead the session and would focus the session on the importance of encouraging our youth to join with us to seek a peace and work for justice. With this coming Sunday marking Pax Christi Peace Sunday we reflected on the message of hope laid bare in the 1st book of Samuel (3.3-10,19) which teaches us that God is always calling us, but it is our responsibility to listen, moreover it is the responsibility of the elders of our communities to encourage our Children and youth to listen in the same way that Samuel encouraged Eli to lie down and answer when He calls: “Speak Lord your servant is listening.”
To me the message of Samuel’s reading here is a teaching for parents, for our elders and for all responsible for the care (physical, mental, spiritual and emotional) of our younger community members. Samuel three times comes running to Eli to declare: “Here I am; you called me”. Eli answers each time with patience, before eventually realising that the call that Samuel has heard is coming from the Lord. It struck me as remarkable the number of times I personally have been close to or even have lost patience with younger members of my family and community when a simply listening to all that they may have to say would satisfy them a great deal better. Here Eli teaches us that our younger members should be encouraged, and more importantly listened to. It may take Eli three occasions before he realises the context of what Samuel is saying, but when he does he encourages Samuel to return and teaches him how to answer His call.
The Gospel reading this Sunday comes from the book of John (1.35-42) and it is this that prompted me into a state of deep reflection as I travelled back to work on the number 10 bus from Coedpoeth this morning.
The next day John was there with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look the Lamb of God!” When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. Turning round, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?” They said, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher) “where are you staying?” “Come,” he replied, “and you will see.”
So they went and saw where he was staying, and spent that day with him.
If we are to know that John the Baptist paved the way for Jesus as the prophets said then we should consider then the importance of his words here. John knows Jesus is Lord, he recognises in Him the Lamb of God and declares this to his own disciples, two of whom leave his side to follow Jesus and stayed with Him for that day after asking the simplest of questions: “Where are you staying?” Reflecting on this I can only remark how simple and yet wonderful a question. These two men who are devout to their teacher hear him declare that the Son of God is among them, and their first question to Him is to ask where are you staying?
We ask so much of the Lord. To answer our prayers, to give us a sign of His presence, to reveal His glory, to give us more time, to give us less time, to cater for our specific and sometimes selfish needs. Yet rarely do we seek Him out where we know Him to dwell.
Jesus takes John’s disciples to where it is He is staying, and later takes both Andrew and his brother whom he calls Peter as His own disciples. He teaches them that He stays with the meek, the poor and the lame. That His presence is strongest in those who have least. He teaches them that He dwells with the least of these, and calls us to care for them as in so doing we minister to Him.
As I journeyed on the Number 10 this morning I could not help but think that if I were to ask the Lamb of God but one question whether I would have the discipline to ask something so simple. He has already taught us so much, but the responsibility now lies with us to act like Samuel to listen to Him through the peace of our hearts, and to follow Him like John’s disciples without fear and in the knowledge that He is Lord.
Thanks for reading…
CAFOD Diocesan Officer
North Wales Office
Members of the Prayer group meeting in Wrexham Peace and Justice centre, Kingmills Rd on January 10th 2012.
The next meeting will take place on February 7th 2012 at 2.30pm. All are welcome and refreshments will be provided.
Jamie will be leading the prayer in February and also in attendance will be a member of the Iraqi Christian Peace Keeping team (Patrick Thompson) who will speak after the event about the work he and his organisation are doing in the Kurdistan area of Iraq.