News from around the Archdiocese of Liverpool
Prophets of love
In the May blitz of 1941, many children from Liverpool were evacuated to the Welsh countryside. One of them was Agnes who was just 12. Originally from Yorkshire, she had settled in Liverpool with her aunt and uncle after the tragic death of her parents. Her upbringing was tough because her aunt and uncle were not the kindest of people. She experienced a lot of beatings and was frequently hungry. When the evacuation took place, her guardians were only too pleased to get rid of Agnes.
Agnes used to talk about Wales as her salvation because it was there that she met Mrs Jones, a widow who radiated kindness and love. Mrs Jones was always on her side; when she was bullied, when accused of stealing, when in the magistrates’ court on a shoplifting charge.
Love was the only thing that mattered to Mrs Jones and that love was prophetic in the way it transformed Agnes. We met Agnes in the 1960s. She was married but never stopped talking about Wales and Auntie Gwyneth.
As a child, I was taken to meet this lady and have never forgotten her. She had a huge personality and was always laughing. She baked scones with homemade jam and cream and made tea in a huge earthenware teapot. Homespun wisdom fell from her lips constantly, and I will never forget her saying to me: ‘Christopher, boy, remember the only thing that matters is love, whatever the cost.’
That, for me, captures what it means to be a prophet. It is about being a sign of radical love. Religious prophets are seldom establishment people. They call traditions into question, which is very necessary if those traditions are not to become ends in themselves. They stand on the side of the persecuted, the abandoned and the broken.
I love the prophecy of Isaiah and the words that Matthew takes and applies to Jesus, the one who makes real the Kingdom through love. Jesus the Servant of God, that Isaiah speaks of, the one on whom the Spirit of God is bestowed.
I wonder what that says to us because we are to be like the one we follow. We are to be filled with the spirit of God and in a prophetic way proclaim the Kingdom of God through our love.
After his baptism Jesus discovered in a new and more radical way that He was a child of God, loved and accepted by the Father, and then spent His life telling the world that if it was true for Him, it was true for everyone. Jesus, the human face of God, went to any lengths to show us that we are loved – even with death on the cross. The challenge is to be like the master. Let us pray today that we can allow it to flow through us.
Fr Chris Thomas