Huge media coverage has followed the plight of Jade Goody, a young English Mother, terminally ill from cervical cancer. Jade believes that it is through Jesus Christ, she can continue to remain close to her family, despite the reality that soon she must die.

jadegoody

Fr Paddy Byrne has a weekly column in the Nationalist.
This column appeared on 25th February 2009

Huge media coverage has followed the plight of Jade Goody, a young English Mother, terminally ill from cervical cancer. Jade, in her short but very active life, has learnt from a very young age, how to survive. She was brought up in a family where separation, dysfunction, violence, addiction and poverty were all felt, a burden that no doubt shaped and affected a very vulnerable and controversial celebrity. Jade has courted the media because of her celebrity status in an effort to afford her young children opportunity in a future she will not be physically part of. For anyone who has ever lost a loved one from terminal cancer, Jades image no doubt evokes a painful memory when similar issues and burdens were carried and deeply felt. One of the strengths in this fragile and broken terminally ill young mother is her faith. She has a living spiritual relationship with Jesus. She is anxious that her children will also know the Lord. Jade believes that it is through Jesus Christ, she can continue to remain close to her family, despite the reality that soon she must die.

Today for many of you Ash Wednesday is that occasion annually which reminds us all that we are fragile, broken and vulnerable people in need of a greater power to sustain, encourage and afford us with an opportunity to hope. The Ashes placed on our forehead as the sign of the cross point us to the meaning of this grace filled season we call Lent. The Scriptures remind us that if we want to follow Jesus, “we must first pick up our cross and then follow him,” Lent is not a restrictive or indeed prohibitive time, but rather, an invitation to look forward to the brightness and new life that will sustain and allow us all to begin again in a new and positive way. This Lent we all have places in our lives where we want to change or to be healed. We have family and friends who we hope will be healed of crosses that lean heavily upon their shoulders. In a time of recession and its fall out in terms of unemployment and financial burdens we have much to pray for.

Thankfully the economy of Gods kingdom is a bright and rich one where plenty and nourishment prevails. A living personal friendship with God allows us to carry any Cross. Christ instills a confidence and hope where we may find ourselves wanting. This Lent even in the midst of recession and an atmosphere of doom and gloom, we have a real opportunity to grow in faith and benefit by its rich fruits. Faith allows us to be gentle, compassionate, generous, kind and forgiving. Lent coincides with the new spring. As new life brightly announces longer evenings and early mornings, may we find time to benefit from the good news that we prepare to celebrate this and every moment of our lives. Our God is alive, beating loudly in the depth of our hearts. Jesus does not take away our Cross but enfolds us as we carry whatever struggle or burden.