The gentle and affirming gift of God's presence

At Christmas, the carols we sing, the decorations we put up, the gifts and meals we share, can point to a humanity that we believe has been personally touched and blessed by God.

As we come to the end of 2017 we have much to reflect upon. In the Province it has been a full and busy year with its share of ups and downs, mixtures of sad and joyful moments. We have experienced the depths of human sadness and weakness and the heights of human life and generosity.

We sadly farewelled a number of Jesuits, family members and friends. We came to acknowledge our Jesuit ageing and diminishing numbers and announced we were leaving two parishes at the start of next year. We lamented our involvement in past sexual abuse and acknowledged the pain of survivors. Three of us appeared at the Royal Commission.

We joyfully welcomed a novice into the Society and the ordination of three scholastics as deacons (to be ordained priests in 2018). We celebrated the 40th anniversary of Jesuit Social Services, and the sesquicentenary of the laying of the foundation stone at St Ignatius’ Church, Richmond, Vic.

I was fortunate to see something of our Australian Province’s mission outreach, such as our men working in India and Pakistan. Also, Jesuit Mission’s support of particular projects in Timor Leste and Thailand.

Our two major gatherings during the year, a Province gathering of Jesuits and an Extended Consult of our Jesuit and Lay Partners in Mission, reminded us of the many blessings we share and our hopes for the future. We were invited to move further along that path of listening and discernment of our future mission. And we Jesuits were reminded of our generous and committed partners in that mission.

At Christmas, our faith is drawn back to the simple birth of Jesus. The carols we love to sing, the decorations we like to put up, the gifts we share, and the meals we carefully prepare, can point to a humanity that we believe has been personally touched and blessed by God.

Jesus came to live as one of us. He shares our ups and downs and accepts what we each bring to the Bethlehem stable this Christmas.

May we each experience something of that gentle and affirming gift of God’s presence this Christmas. It invites us each personally to experience, bring and share new gifts of peace and joy.

Fr Brian F. McCoy, Provincial