2015 LIFELINK CHRISTMAS APPEAL - Good Samaritan calls us to love
‘Christmas is a time to offer the gifts of hope, compassion and mercy to people in need’, was the message proclaimed at the launch of the 2015 Archbishop’s Christmas Appeal. Some 150 priests and parish representatives from across the Archdiocese last week came together at St Mary’s Cathedral as part of the liturgical service and launch of the appeal, presided over by Auxiliary Bishop Don Sproxton. Photo: Ron Tan
By Jamie O’Brien
‘Christmas is a time to offer the gifts of hope, compassion and mercy to people in need’, was the message proclaimed at the launch of the 2015 Archbishop’s Christmas Appeal.
Some 150 priests and parish representatives from across the Archdiocese last week came together at St Mary’s Cathedral as part of the liturgical service and launch of the appeal, presided over by Auxiliary Bishop Don Sproxton.
Those present for the occasion were given the opportunity to listen to a number of speeches and readings - including the proclamation of a verse from The Church in the Modern World (Pontifical Council for Social Communications), a reading from St Luke’s Gospel about the Good Samaritan, and a video presentation of a General Audience with Pope Francis.
Marina Re, CEO of Identitywa, an agency organisation of LifeLink, spoke about the work of the disability care provider, telling the story of five-year-old Sadie and her family and how the support they have gained from Identitywa has changed their lives.
Respite, explained Ms Re - recalling the words of Sadie’s mother Lynley - has been invaluable.
“While it is an emotional test for every family member, the rewards cannot be measured,” Ms Re continued, in her own words.
“For Sadie, it has built her independence and resilience and is enabling her to socialise in ways that her mother says the family could never do.
“I know this because Lynley has told us the staff love telling her stories of what Sadie gets up to – apparently she’s a bit of a cheeky monkey!” Ms Re said.
Auxiliary Bishop Don Sproxton then went on to speak about the Gospel reading of the story of the Good Samaritan from St Luke - and the call we have received as Christians to love the other in the same way that we have been loved by God.
“The compassion of the Father for humanity urged Him to send His son to lift us up to new life,” said Bishop Don.
“The Samaritan was moved to the same level of compassion, we are told by Jesus. In other words, he is moved to feel as God feels. The compassion stirred up within him was divine compassion.”
Bishop Don went on to explain that God’s love for humanity was able to be seen and felt.
“It was revealed through the Samaritan’s humanity and the working of the Spirit within him.
“The Samaritan image, like the image of the Good Shepherd, is applied to Jesus Himself. He is the manifestation of God the Father, whose desire is to be close to each person in such a way that His love can experienced. So many times in the Gospels we find Jesus being with those who were suffering. Their encounter with the Lord resulted in healing, reconciliation on many levels, and the discovery of a new path to follow.
The parable, continued Bishop Don, also reveals the choice of God to create a new household for His people.
“It is meant to be a place of hospitality and safety. It is, as Pope Francis has described it, a field hospital. It is the community of the disciples of the Lord, the Church. This community is to look out beyond itself and notice the needs of people around it.
“It is for this reason that LifeLink exists.
LifeLink provides the Archdiocese with the means to respond to the needs of brothers and sisters that we see around us,” he said.
LifeLink agencies collectively touch the lives of more than 31,000 people in need each year through the provision of accommodation, food, clothing, financial assistance with electricity and gas accounts, and the protection of women and children escaping domestic violence and abuse.
In this year’s Christmas LifeLink Appeal, the Archbishop is setting a target of $700,000 so as to help fund agencies in being able to meet the needs of those who knock on the doors of Archdiocesan agencies.
The 2015 LifeLink Christmas Appeal will be officially launched in parishes on 14 and 15 November.
To donate to LifeLink, go to www.lifelink.com.au.