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New Beginnings…and getting out of bed in the morning

  • 7 January 2022

By Lynn McWilliams, Community Engagement Officer

What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what gets you out of bed in the mornings, what you do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything. Fr Pedro Arrupe SJ

The past two years have brought many challenges. The pandemic and the climate crisis readily come to mind. As we begin a new year it is worthwhile doing a very Ignatian thing and reflecting on our lives and where we are finding God in them, or to paraphrase Fr Pedro Arrupe SJ, former General of the Society of Jesus, ‘What gets us out of bed in the morning’!

At Jesuit Missions, a significant part of what we do entails confronting the bad things that are happening in the world. We size up the causes of poverty, what prompts people to go to war, why there are tyrannical regimes and the plethora of reasons why the earth’s resources are being squandered. Working with partners around the world and supporters here in the UK we look for practical solutions to address the many problems facing our world. In many respects, it would be very easy to give way to despair. To be honest, one look at the headlines each morning can be an off-putting way to begin the day. However, when I speak with my colleagues this is not the sense that I get. Instead, the overwhelming attitude is one of hope.

This is not a hope born out of a nebulous notion that everything will somehow be all right. It is a hope that is born out of daily immersion in the reality of the world, along with the realisation that God embraces the messiness of human existence. Jesus knew what the world is at its worst and yet, was able to draw an extraordinary brilliance out of very ordinary people. 

Being aware of this brilliance, the spark of the Divine in each one of us, is a great motivator, because it helps to remind us that when we choose Him, we have a partner in whom all things are possible.

So, no one of us is going to solve the climate crisis, bring peace to war-torn parts of the globe or cure the pandemic on his or her own. But what faith teaches us is that God is a facilitator of practical hope. David Attenborough recently said, “We are, after all, the greatest problem solvers to have ever existed on Earth. If working apart, we are a force powerful enough to destabilise our planet. Surely working together, we are powerful enough to save it.”

The new year is a time of new beginnings, a reminder that we can start again and with God’s help make ourselves and the world new. I asked members of the Jesuit Missions Team about their hopes and dreams for the new year, or in the spirit of Fr Arrupe, ‘what gets them out of bed in the morning’. Here are some of their responses.

Lucy, Programmes Officer

My recent experience in India meeting people like Abrencia in Darjeeling and women’s self-help groups in Guntur gives me hope. These are people whose lives have changed for the better because of the work Jesuit Missions supports. Also, when I see the Jesuits with whom we work; I see God working through people like Fr Thayriam in Madurai and Fr Fernando in China.

Zoe, Communications and Campaigns Officer

Working at Jesuit Missions enables me to tell the stories of people from all around the world and share actions people here at home can take in response. It could be stories about climate change and what we can do to prevent further destruction or, hearing about the life of a young girl rescued from slavery who is now safe and studying to be a nurse thanks to generous donations from our supporters.

Colm, Advocacy and Campaigns Officer

The idea of Faith playing a central part in my work is important to me. Every day we attempt to engage with social injustices which plague the world and I hope that we at least make a small difference. 

Stephen SJ, Chair Management Board

The verse that comes to mind is, “that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ” (2 Cor 5: 19). I think through Jesuit Missions, we have the chance to participate in reconciling different parts of the world, rich and poor, together in Christ, using our Ignatian network.

Lynn, Community Engagement Officer

In my work, I travel all around the UK meeting people in schools, parishes, university chaplaincies and Jesuit works. I am always amazed by the diverse range of people who want to work for the good of others. The vast majority do this with a sense of joy, creativity, determination and even fun, despite the inherent challenges. In the Ignatian sense, there is a true generosity of spirit! Meeting so many of these extraordinary ordinary people who are putting their faith into action on a daily basis brings me hope for the new year. 

Paul, Director

It’s a privilege to work for the Society of Jesus because I have great respect for who they are and what they do. I believe it’s my responsibility to act, to be an agent of change. In the words of Fr Victor-Luke Odhiambo, SJ who was killed in South Sudan in 2018, ‘We cannot despair, we must do something!’ What gets me out of bed in the morning? It is because I believe in a God who cares about the world especially the people and places where there is suffering and injustice, and God invites me to serve him through this work And so I am grateful for the chance to serve God through my work because it gives meaning to my life and my faith.

In facing the many challenges that confront our world it is worth remembering the words of Nelson Mandela, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

Revelation 21: 1- 4

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

Happy New Year from the Jesuit Missions Team!

 

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