BISHOP GEOFFREY ROBINSON…
In cooperation with Bishop Geoffrey Robinson and his publisher, John Garratt Publishing, we have pleasure in presenting the end chapter meditations from his book which has created so much interest around the world. Today the reflection comes from Chapter Fourteen.
"A Change of Heart and Mind"
The most fundamental change of heart and mind required of us is that of a constant return to the Great Tradition, the person and story of Jesus Christ, and the song that he sang.
For in everything he did and in everything he said, Jesus Christ sang a song. Sometimes, when he cured a sick person, he sang softly and gently, a song full of love. Sometimes, when he told one of his beautiful stories, he sang a haunting melody, the kind of melody that, once heard, is never forgotten, the sort of melody you hum throughout the day without even knowing that you are doing it. Sometimes, when he defended the rights of the poor, his voice grew strong and powerful, until finally, from the cross, he sang so powerfully that his voice filled the universe.
The disciples who heard him thought that this was the most beautiful song they had ever heard, and they began to sing it to others. They didn't sing as well as Jesus had — they forgot some of the words, their voices sometimes went flat — but they sang to the best of their ability, and the people who heard them thought in their turn that this was the most beautiful song they had ever heard.
And so the song of Jesus gradually spread out from Jerusalem to other lands. Parents sang it to their children and it began to be passed down through the generations and through the centuries.
Sometimes, in the lives of great saints, the song was sung with exquisite beauty. At other times and by other people it was sung very badly indeed, for the song was so beautiful that there was power in possessing it, and people used the power of the song to march to war and to oppress and dominate others. Despite this, the song was always greater than the singers and its ancient beauty could never be destroyed.
And so the song continued through the centuries, sung in many languages and forms, argued about, fought over, treated as a possession, distorted, covered by many layers of human accretions, but always captivating people by its sheer simplicity and aching beauty.
At last the song came down to us and, like so many people before us, we too were captured by the song, and wanted to sing it with our whole being. The song must not stop with us, and we in our turn must hand on its beauty to those who come after us. We must always remember that this song has two special characteristics.
The first is that we, too, sing it badly, but if we sing it to the best of our ability, people do not hear only our voices. Behind us and through us they hear a stronger and surer voice, the voice of Jesus.
The second is that we always sing it better when we learn to sing it together — not one voice here, another there, each singing different words to different melodies, but all singing the one song in harmony, for it is still the most beautiful song the world has ever known.
Compared to this song, there is little else that is of great importance. In the atmosphere created by this song, abuse cannot flourish.
PostScript: Since publishing this
reflection we received a song from musician/composer Andrew
Chinn which he wrote in cooperation with Bishop
Robinson in the year 2000 to acompany the words of today's
meditation. We have posted an mp3 of the song and the lyrics on our forum
and you can listen by going to the post at: www.catholica.com.au/forum/index.php?id=9264
Credit: These meditations are taken from the end of chapter reflections in Bishop Geoffrey Robinson's book, Confronting Power and Sex in the Catholic Church — Reclaiming the Spirit of Jesus, published by John Garratt Publishing. We thank Bishop Robinson and John Garratt Publishing for permission to reproduce these meditations on Catholica Australia.
We welcome your thoughts in response to Bishop Robinson's reflection in our forum.
©2007 Geoffrey Robinson