Guinness and God – The Human Virtues – Living the Good Life



Dear young friends,

Thank you for inviting me again to Guiness and God talks.  It’s wonderful to see this initiative taking place over many years.  I commend all those who organise it and thank you for being here.

Over these years, we’ve been focussing on the Human Virtues.  Human Virtues are God’s way of helping us to live the good life.

In the past I’ve talked to you about Courage and Prudence.  This evening I’d like to talk on something a little bit different, but none the less very important if we’re to develop a Christian life based on human virtues.

I’d like to call my talk “Forever Jesus – My Five “Forevers.”

These are aspirations and aims that I hope all of us, especially young people, can encourage in themselves as we mature in the Lord.

1. Forever Pentecost Young

Dear friends be “eagle” Catholics living out a perpetual Pentecost in our world!  There’s a beautiful passage from Isaiah 40:30-31.  The Prophet says “Young men may grow tired and weary, youths may stumble, but those who hope in the Lord renew their strength, they put out their wings like eagles, they run and do not grow weary, or can never tire.”

So dear friends, fly and glide like an eagle!  Don’t be flapping all the time.  To flap means that the attention is all on yourself.  There’s little trust in God.  It’s all about human effort.  Surely there must be human effort, this is a response to the initiative of God coming towards us with His merciful love.

Particularly to glide like the eagle as Christians we need to be lovers of silence.  Silence is God’s Mother’s tongue.  In our silence we need to be still and with great simplicity let God be God in our lives.  Let us particularly look to Mary who treasured and pondered (Luke 2:51) all these things in her heart.  Mary was the great eagle Christian!  She allowed the wind of the spirit to guide her throughout her entire life.  She is therefore forever blossoming Pentecost!  She is forever young in the Church.  Let us live the life of Pentecost and be forever young.

2. Forever Catholic

There is a real communitarian instinct in our Catholic faith.  It reflects the wonder of oneness (John 17:20).  Here we hear Jesus praying to the Father at the Last Supper.  He says “Father may they always be one.” So therefore dear friends let us work together.  Don’t splinter!  Don’t go your own way independently from the rest of the Church.  Yes, of course, the Church might move a lot slower than you want it to move.  But particularly in a Royal Commission into sex abuse of minors, as a community on one level we are appalled by all this.  We may even want to exit from the Community called Church.  But nevertheless in the midst of all our sinfulness, the Holy and Merciful One of God comes and lives amongst us.  It is His Church, God makes us holy.  Let’s invoke the Peter principle.  It’s all about servant leadership.  We are to wash one another’s feet (John 13).  Peter wasn’t perfect either.  Far from it!  But he was the leader.  He said to the Lord “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”   He articulates the faith for us.  So let’s keep strong in our communitarian faith.  Let us see in that light the importance of regular Mass and reception of the Sacraments.  These are all like living blood of the Lord running through our Catholic veins.

3. Forever Missionary

Our Catholic faith is a missionary faith.  It’s not an inward looking group.  We’re always outward.  Remember when Jesus rose from the dead and he met Mary Magdalene in the garden.  After their wonderful encounter He then commissions her to go and tell the Disciples that he has risen from the dead.  Mary Magdalene becomes the first Apostle.  She’s often called the Apostle of the Apostles.  Having encountered Jesus, she becomes a missionary in the Biblical sense of that word.  Believers are always sent.  The Church is the sent out people of God.  This is always a result of our being, as St Paul would say “Captured by Christ.”   St Paul too went out and became one of the greatest missionaries of the Church.  Once we encounter Jesus we can’t keep it to ourselves.  Let us too ask Jesus that He might encounter us more fully than ever before.  Then we will truly be missionaries.

4. Forever Poor

Let’s always be with the poor but always against forms of poverty.  Let’s not idealise or sentimentalise poverty.  It’s not a Christian virtue.  It’s an assault on the God who feeds His people with plenty.  But our special friends must be with the poor and oppressed of the world.  They are God’s megaphone.  They are God’s microphone.  They shout in the simplest forms where God can be found today.  Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta was a great example of this.  From the lips of Jesus crucified on the Cross, she was very much aware of the Scripture text where Jesus says “I thirst.”  Her entire mission was to satiate the thirst of Jesus.  May we do the same?  Never let our possessions possess us, only Jesus our true treasure.  As young people, particularly look to the life of St Francis of Assisi.  As a young man, his preference for the poor really stands out.  Even 800 years after his death we are still talking of him as if he is alive today.

5. Forever Young and “Little”

Love and humility are so important to draw people to the Lord.  Let us remember the basic definition of God and the Scriptures, it is “God is love.”  St Therese of Lisieux, the young people’s saint of France, who died over 100 years ago found that in littleness she experienced the greatness of God.

St Therese of Lisieux decided in her life to do little things with extraordinary love.  She always wanted to be the insignificant one, the one that nobody looks to.  She wanted to work for the Kingdom of God in the most subtle of ways.

But love is always the centre of being little in the Lord.  The opposite of love is not hate.  The opposite of love is fear.  In the Scriptures it says “Perfect love casts out all fear.”

As we now mature in the human virtues and come closer to the Lord as we get older, let us always listen to the Lord who says to us constantly “Be not afraid.”  Let us place our complete trust in the Lord who guides us and leads us to the way of true freedom and peace.