Thursday, 31 January 2019

Premier Radio thought on St John Bosco

John Bosco who’s commemorated on 31 January is a Saint associated with mission to youth. His work with poor boys in 19th century Turin was fuelled by his own humble origins as a shepherd, his struggle to become a priest and his belief that love rather than severity was the clue to forming children up into godliness.

‘A main trick of the devil is to make people believe serving God is synonymous with a dull life’ he taught. ‘This is not true at all. I should like to teach you a method of Christian life that will make you happy and content finding joy and pleasure’. John Bosco learned how to juggle as a youth. He used that gift as a way of entertaining young people and earning the right to speak of the Lord to them.

It was prison visiting, seeing 12 to 18 year olds locked up for petty crimes, that fuelled Bosco’s resolve to make a difference to youngsters. He sought  employment for them. With his mother’s help he accommodated scores of children from whom came Christian leaders who in turn helped transform 19th century Italy.

John Bosco was a dreamer. In his early days God spoke to his passion to help the youth in a dream, words he came to live by which summarise the challenge of today’s Saint: ‘You will have to win these [young] friends of yours… with gentleness and kindness… to show them sin is ugly and virtue beautiful’.

May our engagement with young people be blessed after John Bosco’s example with holy love from above!

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Thursday, 24 January 2019

Today’s the Feast of St Thomas Aquinas who lived in the thirteenth century and was expert at putting faith into words. He saw, to quote him, how the light of ‘faith wakens us to the mystery of God’.

Those words came back to me on a stormy sea journey when at one point on our crossing of the Channel the sun broke through the storm clouds. Light streamed on the turbulent sea reflected forwards in a scene of extraordinary beauty. You couldn’t look at the sun but you could feast on a remarkable display of light reflected from the moving waters. Their threatening look was changed into a scene of immense beauty.

So, in Aquinas’s thinking, the light of faith transfigures life’s dark circumstances showing us God in the midst of it all. ‘It is the God who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ’ writes Paul in 2 Corinthians 4:6.

When I feel threatened by my circumstances I put faith in God. I ask for the light of faith in him to shine and change the look of things so I can persevere and do right. By that light I see beyond what’s facing me outwardly to God’s hand outstretched to me beyond those circumstances. As Aquinas writes in a hymn: ‘faith our outward sense befriending makes the inward vision clear’.

So be it for us all!

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