“Whatsoever you do to the least of my people; that you do unto me.”
The second gathering of our group was an opportunity to delve deeper into the woman that is Mary MacKillop, we learnt more about the challenges she faced in her time and how they relate to today; we continued to get to know one another and our journeys in life.
Our evening began with a delicious meal loving made by Sharon with help from Mary and Laura; we had lasagne, salad, crunchy garlic bread and talked about our childhoods and the differences of living in the country to that of being city dwellers.
We followed the meal with a viewing of Mike Willesee’s Australians: Mary MacKillop a 1987 hour long television special that fictionalises the story of Mary MacKillop.
The show starts with Mary already a young woman with a clear idea of what she wants to do with her life; primarily educate the poor and start a women’s religious order. It depicts her starting a school in Adelaide and highlights the key people in her life during this period and includes a portrayal of her horrific excommunication.
Although the show takes a creative licence to Mary’s life changing details around what she did and where she did it, it really does not matter. The show does something far more important than detail the historical timeline of Mary’s life; it captures her essence. There before us is portrayed a woman of unbridled passion, generosity and honour; we are shown a woman who opened her heart fully to the Gospels and lived a God-filled life for the people of Australia. And since that is who Mary MacKillop is the show succeeds fully in the mission of promoting the work of this wonderful woman; our Saint and our model for living.
After the show we talked about Mary and World Youth Day and in the spirit of the August Edition of the World Youth Day Newsletter we reflected on the Gospel passage: “Whatsoever you do to the least of my people, that you do unto me.” (Matt 25:40).
The Gospels show us that Jesus welcomed everyone no matter their position in life, and importantly for that time and ours today, He welcomed everyone regardless of their gender. Time and again we are shown in the Gospels the importance of women: Mary brings Jesus into the world, while another Mary is praised for the choice she makes to sit by His side and listen to Him speak; and it is a woman who hears of the ‘living water’ offered by Jesus and goes forth to spread the Good News of His message. And so it is with this in mind that one can see that whatever is done the poorest of people, be they sister or brother is done to Jesus. Like Mary MacKillop it is our mission in life to see Jesus in all we encounter and treat them with the loving honour and dignity they so rightfully deserve.
While at times it can be hard to understand Mary’s patient generosity with the Bishops who worked against her Rule and separated her sisters, we see in this particular Gospel passage an avenue to understanding how she managed to always embrace what life and people threw her way. She treated the Bishops as she did the poor, with an open heart to God.
We are challenged to live like Mary and treat all those we come across as we would Jesus.
It is with a greater understanding and passion for Mary that we await our next meeting, and our next step on the journey to World Youth Day 2008.