Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Year of Consecrated Life - "Wake up the world"

Pope Francis has declared 2015 as the Year of Consecrated Life, commencing on the first Sunday of Advent in 2014 and concluding February 2016. The theme for the year is "Wake up the world". How is this to be understood? No doubt many are unaware of this year or its theme. For while consecrated men and women may themselves have used the year as an occasion for renewal and may have personally participated in particular events to mark the year, "wake up the world" may not seem to have noticeably translated into more intense activity, heightened public profile or more public prophetic comment on and advocacy in issues of justice. It may appear to have been largely celebrated amongst themselves for "Wake up" is often suggestive of some loud or heightened activity. Also implied is that the world is asleep. However, there are other images that "wake up" and "sleep" can suggest if we turn to Scripture.

Jesus says of Lazarus "Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him" (Jn.11:11), of Jairus's daughter "Do not weep; for she is not dead but sleeping" (Lik8:52) and of course we read the quotation in Eph.5:14 "Sleeper, awake! Rise from the dead, and Christ will shine in you." In these instances, Jesus recognized life in what others saw as death, life that needed to be stirred into wakefulness by a gentle taking of the hand or a calling forth and then being assisted by others to feed, nourish, unbind, and a return to one's primary community of belonging - family. This is the hope of the Kingdom and our world is in need of hope.

In this vein then, we may ask: Where does our world appear to be dead? Where does it sleep in hopelessness? Where has belonging and communion been broken? What is the gentle hand needed to stir it from its sleep and to restore hope? How is it to be called forth and unbound? To "Wake up the world" is also an invitation to reflect on our world, where it sleeps, or where it appears to have died, and to discern how to gently stir it, call it forth and renew its hope. It may well appear an unobserved work. It is an invitation to embrace the world ever more deeply with the love of Christ. It has a profound depth.

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