PASTORAL LETTER FROM REV JOHN HUGHES OCTOBER 2021

Francis of Assisi, who’s Feast Day is celebrated on the 4th October is thought to have once said: If God can work through me, God can work through anyone.

This statement is one that has helped me during times of doubt and searching – “Why me God, what is it that I am supposed to do” – sounds familiar?

During his early adulthood Francis had a reputation as a bit of a playboy – he enjoyed the good life and could afford it too as he came from a wealthy merchant family – splashing the cash around was evidently
one of his hobbies! The Catholic Encyclopaedia records that “no one loved pleasure more than Francis; he had a ready wit, sang merrily, delighted in fine clothes and showy display. Handsome, gay, gallant, and
courteous, he soon became the prime favourite among the young nobles of Assisi, the foremost in every feat of arms, the leader of the civil revels, (and I really like this one) the very king of frolic”.

It was illness that seemingly rocked Francis out of his frivolous ways; he contemplated his past, feared for his future and gradually allowed himself to be transformed by God. It was not an instantaneous transformation but one that developed over time: as God revealed more and more to Francis, Francis understood more and more of God’s
intentions for his life.

In time he understood what it was he was supposed to do. Francis’ transformation entailed a wholly different lifestyle and a wholly different focus.. from riches to rags!

What then does transformation entail for you and me?

Robert Louis Stevenson, best known for his adventure stories Kidnapped and Treasure Island, was in poor health during much of his childhood and youth. One night his nurse found him with his nose pressed against the
frosty pane of his bedroom window. “Child, come away from there. You’ll catch you death of cold,” she fussed.

But young Robert wouldn’t budge. He sat, mesmerized, as he watched an old lamplighter slowly working his way through the black night in Edinburgh, lighting each street lamp along his route. Pointing, Robert
exclaimed, “See; look there; there’s a man poking holes in the darkness.”

“Poking holes in the darkness.” What a marvellous picture of our task as torch bearers for Jesus, “the light of the world” (John 8:12).

It is our job to poke holes in the darkness of our community, to poke holes in the darkness of our country and to poke holes in the darkness of our world.

And the darkness is all about us – crime, addiction, abuse, neglect, illness, hunger, apathy, ignorance, fear ….

As we contemplate “Why me God, what is it I am supposed to do” let us remember Francis’ words: “If God can work through me, God can work through anyone”.

Is it not time for us to start poking some holes in the darkness?!

John Hughes

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