Fr Brian McCoy SJ reflects on two significant events that have been cancelled in light of the virus pandemic and how they bring us closer to others and God. Full transcript below.
Two events were cancelled recently in this past week, both events due to the coronavirus. They have caused me and others to reflect on what is the meaning that lies behind these events once we no can longer have them and celebrate them.
The first was the cancellation of Maytime Fair at Xavier College last Saturday, an event that I have been associated with ever since I was a boy in that school in the 60s, so more than 50 years. The second event was the cancellation of celebrations of the arrival of Captain James Cook on the HMS Endeavour in 1770, and where the first footsteps of colonising this land began.
The cancellation of the Maytime Fair caused me to reflect on my privilege as Provincial, over these past five years and more, to visit the many communities that are in partnership with us. And the friendships we’ve formed and the projects that Jesuit Mission has sponsored over these many years in India, and Asia Pacific and Africa. Some 10 countries, and many projects affecting migrant workers, refugees, the homeless, and in the present context of the coronavirus, the sick. Projects involving education in Timor, India and Cambodia. And many projects helping to empower communities out of the poverty in which they live.
It’s been a great privilege for me to visit a number of those projects over the last years. So the cancellation of the Maytime Fair reminds me how important those friendships and relationships are.
The cancellation of celebrations around the arrival of Captain James Cook, is different. It reminds me that myself and another Jesuit, Pat Mullins, really began and were formed into relationships and friendships with a lot of First Nations people some 50 years ago, when we first began to move out of our spaces as Jesuits into relationships with a number of indigenous communities in North Australia, North Queensland, Northern Territory, the Kimberley, New South Wales and elsewhere. These relationships and friendships have formed and shaped and enriched our lives, many Jesuits and others, over more than 50 years.
So I bring these two cancellations to the Gospel of last Sunday, where Jesus in John’s Gospel (10:10) says, ‘I came that they might have life and have it to the full’. Jesus comes to bring life for all of us, and to bring that life to the full.
The Maytime Fair reminds us that in the partnerships and friendships across the seas and in other countries we share with those who have less than ourselves – very clear at this time of the coronavirus – those friendships and partnerships and support are that they may have life to the full, but are also calling us to share our life, and for us to have a richer life with them as well.
Our First Nations peoples, affected since 1770 when that first colonising step was made, also call us into friendships and recognition and relationships, that they too, the First Nations people of this land, may live life to the fullest.
And so the Gospel of last Sunday – I have come that they may have life and have it to the full – is not just for others it is for us. And it is our life that is enriched to the full in relationship with others. First Nations peoples, but also those in the Asia Pacific, India and Africa that Jesuit Mission serves.
Fr Brian F McCoy SJ, Provincial