Wednesday, October 2nd 2019


By Mark Thomson

Mark speaks about the things we need to do to build resilience in our increasingly precarious world.

                               Resilience can be defined as ......

 the ability to cope with stress and adversity and bounce back to a previous state of normal functioning,

or using the "exposure to adversity" to produce a “steeling effect” and function better than expected.                                        Interestingly .......

Resilience is a process..... and not an individual trait ....that some have and others don’t.

 Perhaps like many of you, I’ve had very stressful periods on my life ...and in looking back on some of these times,... I always seem to have bounced back. ...

I know that my ability to cope with stress and anxiety has been bolstered by my attendance at St Mary’s 

It's been useful  finding a space where for one hour a week , I can turn up without question.... and participate in a something that... ( well quite honestly )....I’m still trying to comprehend and  understand.

From the many homilies I’ve heard, some inspiring, some educational , some controversial .........and some just went right over my head  ( thanks Peter!),....... I realise that attending St Marys has assisted me build up some resilience to every day life bostering my knowledge and my own self awareness  .


In the last two weeks we've heard about the stress and anxiety that climate change is causing for some of us and particularly school children, ....

I believe it is time to focus on bouncing back

I fear if we focus on ... and promote the fact that  the stress and anxiety  are connected to climate change .....,then things will probably get worse than better.

Perhaps it’s time to be more resilient ?

Few people now doubt that global warming from human caused greenhouse  gases is a major contributor to our changing climate .

 The IPCC  reports that delayed actions will reduce our options in the future and that some of the gains we’ve already made .....may be eroded by the slow uptake ..... or confusing rhetric adopted by some countries and leaders

 Opportunities exist now , and these opportunities are generally described as the adaption and mitigation  towards sustainable development . The issue most of us have, is we are all dealing with our daily lives and routines .....and there does not seem to be much time to develop  new adaption and mitigation strategies .

Our business as usual approach could be seen as being be part of the problem.... albeit it seems totally unrealistic that we drop everything and try to  build mud brick homes , grow our own food in a restored rainforest  , make our own energy and save up to buy a beautiful Telsa electric car. 

Stress and adversity takes many forms in our lives  , however one common outcome is that ....things seem to slow down .

More time is involved in getting things done.. , confusion exists over which things have to be done first, and days can  seem to be endless in worry and increasing anxiety.

In the past when we experience difficulties we’ve been encouraged to find support from family and the Church.

Church has been the place for spiritual growth and the place where we can find comfort from a caring God .

For some reason we sometimes seem to find it hard to listen to family.- who always seem to know better - and that's not always comforting.

 The Gospel stories provide us with examples where individuals and communities have been faced with injustice and disaster and the collective gospel message has been to turn to God for salvation and  for the solution to our woes.

Building a faith in God and a belief in the coming of the Lord formed the basis of countless storied sermons and messages which we’ve heard attending church, some of us very  dutifully over the years.

In the second reading today from Psalms thereis an outline of what has been perhaps a historical approach to faith

" My help comes from the Lord

The Lord will keep you from all evil, he will keep your life

The Lord will keep you going out and coming from this time forth and for evermore".

As part of my journey at SMX and through the stories I’ve heard, I’ve come to understand and rationalise that the Lord and God …are best thought of in a modern sense to be MY true essence or MY spirit. 

 Life has taught me that my faith in the Lord is only actioned or realised when I take action. My  faith has  also  questioned in the actions I take and at times this has also slowed me down becoming anxious about whether I’m doing the right thing or not.

 Understanding  or hoping  (sometimes with blind faith ) that someone else will always bale me when in trouble, has sometimes led me to become very disappointed with life . It’s caused me considerable stress and anxiety in the past, both in my business and personal life.

  For Todays  Gospel reading  I selected from the letters from James  which   states

"Consider it Pure Joy when you are involved in various trials  as the testing of your faith produces endurance .

Endurance must take full effect which then makes you mature and complete ".

In other words it is your actions overcoming stress and anxiety that will find you lacking nothing.

Having faith is not always enough..but faith can assist us to be more resilient

Taking action to eliminate stress and anxiety in your life is important to leada meaningful  a fulfilling life.

We need resilience and endurance for our future


A colleague at my current workplace recently shared an article with me which I found useful in addressing some anxiety towards a world that seems doomed by political instability, impending climate crisis doom and  a world of gross injustice.

The article effectively explained we are all going to die . The  big question  is we don’t know how and when ?

The article explained that if you accept death as inevitable , the question is

What do you do between now and the day you die ?.

The answer posed was 

Well that depends how long do I have ?

The article then spoke about surveys of people who had been diagnosed with  short periods of life due to a particular disease or infliction . Some common themes were identified

Forgive yourself and seek healing

Pursue family harmony

Tell people what you want them to know

Follow your gut feeling

Be a great friend

There seems to be a common understanding that life is about LOVE

and to live  life is all about knowledge ,experience and relationships

The gaining of knowledge , experience and relationships perhaps can been seen as our life's journey


"Resilience is a process and not an individual trait that some have and others don’t."

The process of resilience  according to author Yuval Noah  Harari Involves


Meaning and


One thing we know in life is everything changes and keeps changing .

We can let stress and anxiety  become our response to life or we can build resilience and take actions that will be meaningful

To be resilient we need to plan , understand and work with others to deal with the issues we have now and those which will impact us

Social justice is one of the actions that this Community has identified as a worthwhile contribution to living today . Micah Projects  continues to undertake great work in this area

Economic Justice is an action we perhaps all deal with every day in our making our finances serve our present and future

Environmental  justice is the challenge that climate change is imposing on us now

Our journey forward almost certainly requires our community to build resilience .

Adapting to a changing world via changing our habits and building our faith in our future

I’m hopeful that our journey here at SMX will provide us with resilience  to forge a great future for ourselves and our future generations

 SO next time you feel anxious or stressed

 Ask yourself   what is the next action I can take ?