As he was dying, well-known journalist and TV personality Mike Willesee gave us good direction for Ash Wednesday and Lenten worship.
On 1st March this year, Mike Willesee died after a long journey with throat cancer. Willesee became a household name in Australia in his foundational work with the ABC TV’s Four Corners program, Nine News program and A Current Affair. Throughout those decades of fame, he was not a part of any Christian community and would have called himself an agnostic, although he had his beginnings in the Roman Catholic Church.
But like other Australians, like past political leader Bill Hayden, Mike Willesee found himself led back into Christian faith, and has spent these past years as an active member of the Roman Catholic Church. He has been especially interested in writing about the mysteries of God at work in our world.
When he was diagnosed with cancer in 2016, Willesee knew it was terminal. In an interview with the online Roman Catholic Church publication, “Catholic Weekly” he reflected on his suffering and his hope. His words guide us into the faith of Ash Wednesday and Lent, where we confess that “dust we are and to dust we shall return.” Mike Willesee said, “I think having God in my life made it easy to accept. This is what’s happening. If that’s what God wants, that’s ok. … It really doesn’t matter because so often Jesus told us to be ready … You don’t know what time the Master will come home in the night.”
We are not God. We are mortal humans, with flesh and blood. In God “we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17).
I commend you to the journey of Lent. Lent reminds us to go to a private place and confess to our Heavenly Father, that we have sinned in thought, word and deed. This journey of Lent is designed to prepare us for the horrific display of the death of our beautiful Saviour on Good Friday. But this journey of Lent readies us to declare, “He gives his life for the sin of the world, including my sin.” We will see Jesus Christ give his life so that those caught up in sin and death, would receive life, salvation and the forgiveness of sin.
Mike Willesee was restored to this hope of the Gospel. Now, he has been gathered into the everlasting arms of his Saviour and Lord: Jesus.