31st March - the Angelus - God's Will in difficult times Pt 1
No-one better than Jesus shows us how to face difficult times.

He had said during his life that his food was to '€œDo the will of the One who sent me'€. Jn 4:34

In the agony in the garden both Jesus'€™ reaction and response is an encouragement to us.

His reaction when foreseeing his arrest and suffering was, '€˜I don'€™t want it - take it away'€™.

His response (namely a conscious choice and decision on reflection with prayer) though was '€˜What you want Father, I want'€™.

It'€™s the only way to go - and Jesus shows us how to do it. It is by embracing difficulties, suffering and the cross with love as he did, that we can get the help we need from God to bear it and to cope.

When all this is embraced with love, God will bring much good from it - as he did from Jesus'€™ life and Passion and as he did from Mary'€™s life and suffering.

24th March - The Angelus - Did mary know what her 'yes' would mean?
Even though Mary generously said '€˜yes'€™ to God, there was no road map with all the details of what her life was going to look like.

She did not know the future:-
- The trip to Bethlehem and no room at the inn.
- Simeon'€™s prophecy that a sword would pierce her heart.
- The confusion of losing Jesus for three days when he was 12.
- Joseph'€™s death and her own difficult widowhood.
- The struggles Jesus would face in his public ministry.
- The nightmare of his arrest and execution.

What Mary did know was that God was in charge of her journey. She also knew the truth of the Angels words '€œHail, favoured one, the Lord is with you'€.

My life may seem chaotic at times. But whatever my circumstances, like Mary, I need to remember: '€˜Lord, you are with me'€™.


17th March - The Angelus - Be it done unto me according to thy Word
This openness of Mary to the word of the Angel, is really her openness to the Word of God - to God'€™s Will. This is all summed up in one Latin word - '€˜fiat'€™ - let it be. We say that Mary gave her fiat to God through the Angel.

In other words Mary was saying to God '€œWhat you want, I want'€. What a wonderful attitude and what a wonderful woman.

This is so simple and yet it means so much. Others have teased out in various ways what '€˜doing what God wants'€™ means. I would like to quote a few words from St Mary of the Cross MacKillop for whom the Will of God meant so much.

'€œOh, Father, I cannot tell you what a beautiful thing the will of God seems to me. For some years past, my Communions, my prayers, my intentions have all been for God'€™s will to be done. I can never pray for a particular intention, a particular person, or anything particular about our own Institute, but in God'€™s loved will, that is - whilst I desire with all my heart to pray for these, I cannot help at the same time desiring that He only use my prayers for the intention that His own will most desires at this time. Thus I feel a joy when things go well, for I see His will in this, and an equal joy when they seem to go wrong or against our natural desire, for there again I see His will, and am satisfied that He has accepted my prayers and those of many more for some other object at the time nearer to His adorable will.'€ [Letter, Ascension 1874, Resource Book 2, pp 49-51]

These words give us not only a glimpse into Mary MacKillop'€™ soul and spirit but also a glimpse into the heart and soul of Mary, the Mother of Jesus.

10th March - the Angelus - Behold the Handmaid of the Lord Pt2
Mary declares that she is a servant. She is not anyone'€™s servant though, but Gods.

Mary encourages us also to be servants - servants of the Lord.

Before we think about what our role, our duty, or what our responsibilities could be, let us first think of who this Lord is who we are called to serve.

This Lord is our God. It was this God who took flesh in Mary who calls us to serve. Of himself he said '€œThe Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many'€.

What a God - what humble generosity!

The more we reflect on that, the more we understand what a privilege he gives us as he calls us.

Looking to Jesus also as our '€˜Suffering Servant'€™ we will be able to see more clearly who are the ones he calls us to serve and how we are to serve them. We have many examples in the Gospel of Jesus serving people that fit any of the many situations and circumstances of our lives.

3rd March The Angelus - And she concieved by the Holy Spirit Pt 1
Last week we reflected briefly on the Power of the Holy Spirit in the Incarnation, Creation and the Eucharist.

Because this powerful Spirit it always with us it would seem that there is no limit to what the Holy Spirit can do.

One of the gifts of being a Bishop is that in various ways, and especially in administering the Sacrament of Confirmation, I am regularly brought '€˜face to face'€™ with the Holy Spirit.

As I share the Holy Spirit with so many, I too am Graced to come closer to the Holy Spirit - to ponder and think more about the Holy Spirit - to value the Holy Spirit more - to call upon the Power and Gifts and Fruits of the Holy Spirit.

This I have been doing for a little over twenty years now. For some years now at the end of the day I have the practice also of turning to the Holy Spirit.

I think over the day, where God has been, what good I may have done, and where I have failed. As the Holy Spirit hovered over creation and brought forth life, I ask the Holy Spirit to hover over my day to bring forth the life that God wants from it. I also ask the Holy Spirit to continue hovering over the whole world, and all that people that have done, in order to bring forth greater life.

I also have the image of Jesus blessing the few loaves and fish and multiplying them. So too I pray by the Power of the Spirit that he will bless and increase any good I and others have done that day.

Not only in this way am I connected once more to the Holy Spirit, but I go off to sleep, knowing I have done the little I can, and leaving the rest to God, whose Spirit can bring so much more from it. Apart from other things it helps end the day on a very hopeful note.