“Jesus is not just a role model … how many role models do we have?
“We don’t need another one.
“We need something else and that’s what Jesus is … Jesus isn’t once upon a time, he’s here and now or nowhere.”
Archbishop Coleridge said if we did not believe Jesus rose from the dead, we did not believe in “the most fundamental claim of Christianity”.
“St Paul says it very clearly in one of his letters that if he’s (Jesus) not raised from the dead then we are the most pathetic people of all,” he said.
“He rose from the dead and is here and now and you can meet him.”
Archbishop Coleridge said when Jesus was encountered then the full and magnificent truth of God was revealed.
“It’s not some clapped-out, tin-pot God that we make for our own supposed solace,” he said.
“The real God, who is so much stranger, bigger and more magnificent than anything we can think or imagine … it’s a God we could never have concocted.
“If we don’t see, hear, read or encounter him … here and now as presence and power, then we are stumbling along in the half-light seeing slivers of reality.
“What we need is a power to enable us to do something we can’t do left to our own devises, and He is it.
“He is the power that God provides – because you can’t do it on your own and the harder you try the worse it gets.
“The encounter with Jesus changes everything for the better.”
Step two involves responding to the call.
“When you encounter the risen Christ you always get a job,” he said.
“Every one of you is being called by Jesus to do something.
“This is a Jesus who is incredibly courteous. He doesn’t kick our door down; he nudges urges, whispers, cajoles even at times, but He is a huge respecter of human freedom.
“He treats you as a free human being but one that he calls to respond freely.”
The next step is to “embrace community” once the response has been given.
“This is a culture that wants belief without belonging, belonging without belief,” he said.
“(But) you can’t have one without the other.
“It’s amazing how quickly we slide into the patterns of self worship.
“I think if you want to find your way to the real Jesus then I think you have to find your way into community.
“Call it a Church if you like, that’s just a code word. It means ‘of the Lord’.”
A further step is to “become a missionary in one way or another”.
“In other words, we are sorely forbidden to inhabit some Churchy little corner where all we do is talk to each other,” Archbishop Coleridge said.
“There is a big, bad world out there.
“I think the biggest question as a bishop these days is ‘practically what does it mean for us to become a more missionary Church?’
“What does it mean for you to become more missionary?
“There are millions and millions and millions of people who have never even heard of Jesus but there is a whole new mission territory in our own backyard.
“Brisbane is missionary territory and I’m a missionary bishop every bit as much as some bloke up in Mongolia.
“It’s not a question of who is missionary and who is not; you’re all missionaries.”
Engaging in culture is the next “step”.
“It’s not a matter of saying it’s all doom and gloom out there, the culture is evil and we have to create this pure and protected enclave in which we are safe from the evils of the world,” he said.
“That’s not the Catholic approach.
“We do have to critique the culture and that requires a quality of insight, intelligence, wisdom and balance to see what is good and what is bad in the culture.
“In other words, you can see the culture for what it really is, good and bad. Because you see Jesus, you see it with a different eye. You become his eye. That’s the kind of critique I need; not something you might read in the opinion pages.”
A further step is to “learn to love more and more everything that is truly human”.
“To love what it is to be human … (is) the way God loves the human being,” Archbishop Coleridge said.
“I’m even talking about things that make us genuinely human – (such as) music, good company, fine art, good food, good wine in moderation – the things that make human life sing.
“That makes it something more than just drudgery.
“Love is the prime thing but there are so many other things.”
Serving the poor and becoming saints is the final of the seven steps.
“God wants to make us saints,” he said.
“You can’t manage sanctity, you can’t program it or plan for it … (and) you can’t manage the Holy Spirit.
“We’re riding the whirlwind, brothers and sisters.”
Archbishop Coleridge said the steps “sound rather neat … but there’s a hell of a lot of mess caught up in the mix”.
“Don’t be terribly upset by the mess but keep your mind on the magnificence of the heart of the mess,” he said. “The Church is always a mess; get used to it.
“The Church was a mess from day one. There was no golden age but that’s not the full story. I see what you see … (and) I see more.
“I see the magnificence of Jesus Christ, crucified and risen, the one with whom I began and the one with whom I now end.”
The Catholic Leader is an Australian award-winning Catholic newspaper that has been published by the Archdiocese of Brisbane since 1929. Our journalism seeks to provide a full, accurate and balanced Catholic perspective of local, national and international news while upholding the dignity of the human person.
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