By Br Damien Price
Think of some of the most powerful images in our modern history. There’s the image of a man wanting human rights in China standing in front of a tank in Tiananmen Square and the girl putting a flower into the barrel of a national guardsman’s rifle during the race riots in the USA in the 1960s. More recently, the image of Pope Francis’ gentle hand touching the head of a small child who was roaming around his feet during a speech.
Those images were powerful and memorable because they gave hope. That’s important to note because all too often we are surrounded by fear, poverty, hatred and pain. Hope’s voice can become but a whisper.
Recently I was attending a seminar in the city. I had parked at St James’ School and was making my way down to the city when, against a wall in the park opposite St John’s Cathedral, I saw a young Indigenous man and woman wrapped in each other’s arms laying on the hard concrete of the square asleep.
Closer to the city, outside the ACU Building, a man with matted hair and obviously a mental illness asked me for money. As I reached into my bag to find something he asked me my name – and thanked me, using my name.
In the afternoon, on my way back to the car, I passed the spot where that morning I had seen the couple asleep. All that was now there, like the cloths of Easter morn, was the flimsy blanket that had provided them some meagre warmth.
Our Lenten and Easter journeys are ‘one step at a time’ journeys to become people of hope in the face of all that seeks to defeat it.
Hope is that spark deep within, that small inner voice, that tingling feeling, that resolve not to give in, that choice not to give up, to try again, to believe, to love, to forgive – anything that is positive and beautiful in the face of the worst that life can throw at you.
Hope is the hallmark of all people of faith and love regardless of religion, or ethnicity or social standing. Hope is that daily reaching up to take the Lord’s hand as we know we cannot do it alone!
Hope is power in the smallest of feet, the weakest of hands and the seemingly most unimportant of voices as it stands and challenges hate and division and cruelty and greed.
Hope is that small voice inside you and me that believes that love will conquer, that life is stronger than death, light more powerful than darkness, love the victor over hate.
Hope’s cousins are faith, love and joy. Where they are found, God is to be found.
The journey through Lent to Easter is a journey to new eyes that see – truly see – the couple laying on the concrete wrapped in cloths like Easter morn.
At this sacred time, we are called to new ears that hear – truly hear – the homeless ask. Not asking for money, but asking my name and then hearing the thanks with that name being used!
What blessing! What gift! What encounter with “Christ in the distress and the disguise of the poor! (Teresa of Kolkata)”
If we can, day by day, grow into these new eyes and ears then we will know the true conversion of Lent and, in so doing, the hope, peace, joy and love of Easter!
Easter is why, despite everything, we can smile.
Easter is the reason for it all. Easter is the ultimate feast of hope and love.
Br Damien Price is a Christian Brother and a former teacher in Brisbane schools including St Joseph’s College, Gregory Terrace, St Patrick’s College, Shorncliffe and St Laurence’s College, South Brisbane. He continues to work with schools across the country.