New Year 2024 Homily

January 2, 2024 | Reflections from Abbess Hilda

31st December 2023

Tonight we will see the arrival of 2024. There is a great deal of apprehension about this coming year. If you look on our website you will see that Sr Petra has put an excellent prayer video created by Mother Mary. It is called Lantern in War Zones and is extremely moving. On one slide it lists off all the places in the world where there is outright war, civil war, drug wars and even then there is more. There are all the places where violence happens on our streets in our homes and most especially in the hearts of human beings. It seems that, “hate” and discord” are the skates on which we are sliding into this New Year.

I remember hearing a true story from the Bosnian War. A journalist was driving through a bombed out part of some city and a man with a clearly sick child in his arms motioned to him. The journalist stopped and took them in. The man begged him to take them to the hospital. Every now and then the man would say: “Please go faster, my little girl is sick”  Then “please go faster my little girl is dying”.

As they arrived at the hospital the man said “You can stop now my friend, my little girl is dead” and then he broke down and sobbed. In the middle of his sobbing he cried out “What will I tell her father”. The journalist was stunned, “But isn’t she YOUR child?” to which the man answered “My friend they are all OUR children”

Yes every wounded child, every broken heart, every kind of sorrow is ours and all that has a name. THE BODY OF CHRIST

The wounded, traumatised, broken, dying Body of Christ is among us. We really don’t have to look far for Him. Sometimes we need only look as far as our own back yards and our own hearts.

We are Benedictines. Wherever there is war, wherever there is discord, where there is division, wherever there is hurt of any kind, we are by virtue of our God given vocation, right there on the front line.

We are as  present as the soldiers fighting, as the doctors and nurses tending the wounded, as present as the mother who has just lost her all her children, as  present as the orphan who is left homeless, as present as the disabled elderly man who has no one to look after him. Maybe you would like to spend some time later with your own reflection, where are you in the world right now?

By our life of prayer and continual conversion, from which we seek no escape, we are there.

Other religious orders are there too and they can be seen, quite rightly, for what they are doing. Thank God they are there.

We on the other hand cannot be seen and yet the truth is without the ministrations we offer through our monastic living through our life of prayer and giveness, healing is not complete until we have done our part too.

There is a tired despairing doctor waiting for us,

there is frightened child waiting for us,

there is a lost teenager waiting for us,

there is a world leader who is grappling with his or her conscience waiting for us.

The Body of Christ is waiting for us.

As the year begins let us commit ourselves anew to tending that Body wherever we find Him with, as our Holy Father  Benedict would exhort us , every tenderness, compassion, fidelity and presence.

– Abbess Hilda Scott osb