DESPITE being etched in stone since 1942 on the pillars of the cloisters of the former Pius XII Seminary at Banyo (now the Australian Catholic University Brisbane campus), I only recently noticed the Latin inscription ‘Timor’. It means ‘honour’ in English.
My young son recently flew to Atabae parish in East Timor with two other young people. The East Timor Support Group of parishes of Bardon and The Gap/St Johns Wood paid for them to go.
It was a beginning experience for them and for us family members and led me to notice for the first time something I had often passed for 50 years.
The headlines from The Catholic Leader in the past two weeks have focused on youth in terms of schoolies (CL 14/12/03) and World Youth Day (WYD) (CL 7/12/03).
Youth is a metaphor for ‘beginning’ as well as being a beginning in real terms. Events such as WYD, ‘schoolies’ and the East Timor journey embed truth into life and are ‘beginnings’.
Australian Scripture scholar, Fr Francis J. Moloney, published a book in 1992 called Beginning the Good News. He studied John’s prologue, Matthew and Luke’s birth narratives and Mark’s own prologue embedded in chapter 1:1-13.
All claim that the God of Israel was the same God as present in Jesus of Nazareth. To understand the ‘how’ of that claim Fr Moloney said we must read each Gospel story.
Fr Moloney quoted J.R.R. Tolkien to show that the Gospel ‘beginnings’ remind us that we are ‘refracted light splintered from a single white to many hues, endlessly combined in living shapes that move from mind to mind’.
This Christmas will be a beginning. Joel, Anna and James will bring to the family Christmas table stories of the East Timorese people just as other young people bring stories from previous WYDs and ‘schoolies’ to their family dinner tables.
May Christmas preserve the story of the Holy Family as a ‘beginning’ that leads us to notice the bright light of truth that has always been there.
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