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From the Principal (Issue 4 2018)

Written on the 22 March 2018

Dear members of the Sacred Heart College community

Holy Week
Next week we commemorate and celebrate Jesus' Passion, Death and Resurrection, commonly referred to as Holy Week.

Last year I was privileged to join with twenty or so colleagues from across Marist Schools Australia and undertook a pilgrimage which encompassed the Holy Land, Rome and Champagnat country around Lyon in France. Amongst the more memorable highlights was most definitely our time in Jerusalem. Even two thousand years later, there is a sense of the sacred and remnants from Jesus' time of ministry, suffering, death and resurrection.

Atop the Mount of Olives there is a fine view of Jerusalem and upon descending we spent time in the Garden of Gethsemane amidst the gnarled and ancient olive trees. Spending time in this aesthetic, knowing well the gospel stories, many a deep thought came to mind. Amongst these - what are the key points of this period of Jesus' life? We venture to Caiphas' Palace on the outskirts of Jerusalem and visit the cell in which Jesus was held before being handed to Pontius Pilate. It's below ground, dank and eerie. The air is thick with dust, the cell hewn into the rock. What was he thinking whilst in this place?

Early one morning, before dawn, we undertake the Via Dolorosa - the Way of Suffering. Other pilgrims are doing likewise in a range of languages. We retrace Jesus footsteps. The final Station of the Cross is the aedicule, the Tomb of Christ.

So, what resonates from this experience? There are many points which come to mind but I am most challenged by Jesus' notion of forgiveness. 'Forgive them Father for they know what they do!' (Luke 23:34) 

In Jesus' words we see his willingness. We see his willingness to forgive. Whatever we learn, we must learn this: Jesus is willing and eager for this Father to forgive even the ones who committed this great act of injustice, the ones who were unfairly, unjustly, grotesquely torturing him. Jesus is like his Father, "not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance" (2 Peter 3:9). (https://www.challies.com/articles/for-they-know-not-what-they-do/)

Wow! How do we make sense of this? I'm reminded of Archbishop Desmond Tutu's observation of Nelson Mandela when he attained freedom after being imprisoned for 27 - yes, 27 years: Before Nelson Mandela was arrested in 1962, he was an angry, relatively young man. He founded the ANC's military wing. When he was released, he surprised everyone because he was talking about reconciliation and forgiveness and not about revenge.

And another 'giant' of the twentieth century, Martin Luther King Junior: Forgiveness does not mean ignoring what has been done or putting a false label on an evil act. It means, rather, that the evil act no longer remains as a barrier to the relationship. Forgiveness is a catalyst creating the atmosphere necessary for a fresh start and a new beginning.

Jesus' death and resurrection is the most significant catalyst for Christians to start afresh, create a new beginning with ourselves, our families, each other and our God!

Easter Blessings to all and a special invitation to all members of the Sacred Heart community to our annual Stations of the Cross to be held at Paringa Hall on Good Friday, commencing at 12 noon.

Pax Christ!

Steve Byrne

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