Throughout the school year, each year group gathers for a grade liturgy so that there is a communal experience of prayer and an opportunity to offer prayerful support to each other. At each of the grade liturgies, one or more of the girls have the opportunity to prepare and present a reflection on the Scripture readings. At the recent Year 9 liturgy, the following reflection was prepared and presented by Molly Q, Grace K, and Tavara S.
In the first reading (Romans 12:9-19), and the Bible in general, we are commanded to do a lot of things, and while listening to it or reading it, all of its orders can seem a little overwhelming. The Bible often asks a lot of us and it can seem impossible to stick to all of its requests. However, we can always break down what it says so it makes a bit more sense. The first reading is essentially helping us to become a more loving, faithful, patient and compassionate person. The second reading (1 Peter 4:7-11) is asking us to forgive our enemies and the gospel reading (John 15:12-17) is simply asking us to love one another. It sounds simple enough when put like that, but not many people know what it entails or how to stick to this command. And it’s hard! There’s no denying that it can be painful to keep away from our temptations, refrain from giving in to our harmful thoughts and find it in our hearts to love and forgive everyone. So, let’s tear apart these readings and find ways that we can become more loving people in our day to day lives.
A topic that’s often brought up in the readings is that of loving everybody. We are told what the result should be, but not explicitly how to get there. It often seems like an unattainable goal. How can we possibly love everybody, including those who have wronged us? In some ways, it is an impossible expectation, for it expects us to reach perfection, which is not realistic. But the most important thing is that we at least try. The first reading talks about asking God to bless those who have wronged us, not curse them. That’s a start. Praying allows us to reflect on people’s actions. It may give us a new perspective or point of view that gets us back on track. It's widely recognised that talking out problems is an amazing way to find solutions, and who better to talk to than God himself? It doesn’t have to be extensive, long or super formal, but if we take time once every so often to talk about our relationships with God then we will be one step closer to reaching the goal of loving everybody, just as the scriptures request. Loving everybody isn’t just going to happen overnight; it’s a process of forgiveness and understanding and taking just a sliver of time out of our lives to pray can be the start of this process.
Another common theme in these readings is thinking of everybody as equal. We cannot live our lives in the mindset that we are either inferior or superior to another. This won’t get us anywhere. However, this pattern of thinking is very hard to get out of. We often think badly of ourselves when we see someone else achieve something. Or think badly of others when we achieve something. What’s the harm in just living? The first reading says: ‘Live together in peace with each other. Don’t be proud but be willing to be friends with people who are not important to others. Don’t think of yourself as smarter than everyone else.’ If we put ourselves in this mindset, one where we consider people as friends out of our own interests and not those of our friends, one where we think of everyone as equal, our community will be a much happier and safer place for every member. That’s what we want, right? Our world as a much more accepting and welcoming place for everyone.
Another thing that these readings talk about is playing to our strengths. In the second reading, it talks about utilising our strengths in ways that’ll be not only beneficial to us but those who surround us. Whatever strength we choose to display, God will be shown through it. Another topic touched in the first reading is being proud of each other rather than of ourselves. It states ‘Wish only good for those who treat you badly. Ask God to bless them, not curse them.’ Always be the stronger person, don’t allow others negativity ruin your nature or your vibe. In today’s society, we constantly try our best to be better than everyone else rather than try our best to just be ourselves. Instead of putting our energy into competition we should put it into prioritising our health, both physical and mental, and our relationship with God. We need to understand that the best way to grow is to grow together. It’s so easy to be kind, compassionate and Christ-like yet it’s barely displayed. We are allowing this to happen by being rude and inconsiderate. Being rude, mean or cruel is not a trait, it’s unnecessary energy you go out of your way to display. We need to allow ourselves to grow alongside each other in peace with God. We need to be the best versions of ourselves whilst also encouraging others to do the same.
So to sum it all up, we can be better friends, better neighbours, better children of God and better people if we just love one another, think of everyone as equal and play to our strengths and what we find true joy in. Even if your friend decides not to follow this path. Even if you hear people down the street making prejudiced comments. Stay true to yourself, stay on your path, continue to believe and know what is right. All we can do now is grow together, love together and live in peace as one.
Molly Q, Grace K, Tavara S - Year 9 Students