Bags of clothing donated by parishioners of St Patrick’s in Strathleven Place, Dumbarton.
By Canon Gerry Conroy, parish priest of St Patrick’s, Dumbarton
I doubt very much that in these past few months any of us has seen an angel offering us hope, but our changed circumstances have caused many to pause their life and take stock. Turning our attention to the Angel Gabriel’s visit to Mary, I think the Church offers us a perspective born of faith for our own situation. It resonates with us in our predicament because just as Mary was afraid, many of us have known some fear at the uncertainty we are facing.
And faced with the uncertainty of it all we frequently ask what we should do in our life, just as Mary asked the Angel, given the weirdness of the situation, what she should do. I suspect she wasn’t much the wiser after she got the answer. Life was still as much a mystery to her as it ever was. But the significant thing was that she submitted to the will of God. She knew what was asked of her, even if she didn’t fully understand what was asked of her. It was what St Paul called the Obedience of faith in that second reading. That doesn’t mean she stopped thinking for herself, or that her life was no longer her own. What it means is that on the basis of the Angel’s visitation, she made a fundamental option for how she was going to approach life. She was going to approach her life from the point of view of faith and trust in God. The visit of the angel changed the direction of her life, just as this whole experience of the past year has made many of us stop and look at our life, perhaps even reconsider how we were going about our life.
Having made that decision, it meant that all of Mary’s decisions had to be consistent with her choice of faith, her choice to do God’s will. That consistency is what St Paul meant by the obedience of faith. Each morning when she woke up, her choice didn’t tell her what to have for breakfast, or whether or not to wash her hair that day. But each morning when she woke up her choice whether to be nice to this person or that person who drove her crazy was based on her earlier choice to do God’s will. Her choice to stand at the foot of the cross and accept her sons’s decision was based on that choice to do God’s will.
In life faith doesn’t tell us what to do, in black and white for everything we do; it’s more like the choices you make in your day because you have made a commitment to someone else. You don’t do anything that would harm that relationship; you choose instead the things that would nurture and confirm the relationship. We are asked to be consistent in our love and how we live because of our choice to believe that Jesus, born in Bethlehem, crucified on Calvary and risen from the dead is Son of God. That is what faith asks of us. May God give us the strength to live with love what we believe and hope for.
More poverty out there than people like to admit
The advent Tree appeal raised about £5,980 which helped 255 children, from eight schools and 107 families. It was a very generous response, but it also shows the depth of the problem with people struggling. The clothes appeal brought in well over 100 bags of clothes. I don’t know if you saw any photos of the bags on the railings outside the Church which was only a small proportion of what was handed. I was told that there were about seven people waiting in the bus stop in Strathleven Place this morning about 8.00am to get something for babies. I’m sure covid isn’t helping, but there is more poverty out there than people like to admit and it is only going to get worse.
Fr Gerard Conroy