Twenty First Sunday in Ordinary Time. Year A. 27 August 2017

 

Another almost volcanic week in Australian civic life! The major question of the Gospel this weekend, “Who do you say I am?” could easily be used as a point for discussion (respectfully please!) The new Word being used to silence others: who can sit in the Australian Parliament, determining the status of all migrants, especially those who arrived by boat? Maybe the same question needs to be put to those who deny the right of others to speak, particularly if, shock horror, they have a faith or religious point of view.

“Who do you say I am?”

“How rich are the depths of God!”  In Matthews account, Jesus, in recent weeks, has been on the road; we know now the road will lead to Jerusalem, death, and Resurrection. How do you prepare your friends for such a journey? During that time Jesus took his friends to strange places and met different peoples and he worked his miracles and taught them. We find him today in a Roman town with Roman gods now ruled over by a Jewish King. The new world was encroaching on the established order, and it is there that Jesus pops the question…not by the security of the Sea of Galilee, let alone the sanctuary of the Holy of Holies in Jerusalem.

Years later, Peter is called upon to answer the same question in the centre of the Mediterranean world, Rome, the seat of the powerful Emperor who gave Caesarea Philippi to the Jewish King. Peter answered with his life and began a long tradition of the followers giving the same answer, often in their blood.

It seems that in Australia at the moment, followers of the same Jesus are being asked to answer the same question against a similarly hostile background. Remember our history, and answer like Peter…

“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

 

Mons Frank

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Year A. 19 August 2017

Boundaries.

We need them! Even the secular advocates demand restitution for ‘boundary violations’.

This week has been plagued with examples of the need for clear boundaries e.g. in the world of mass migration, how do you define a person to be an Australian (and able to be elected to the Federal Parliament)? What boundary is indicated by your dress or the jewellery you wear? Are you in or out when on the boundary line in major sports? Whether or not Jesus made Tyre or Sidon, he was leaving Galilee behind!

Was it because of opposition to his teaching, or a desire for peace and quiet, or was he gently reminding the disciples that there was a far bigger world out there that in time needed to hear what he, Jesus, was offering?

The Canaanite woman provided an answer!

If she met him on Jewish soil, then our reflection takes one path. If Jesus met her on Gentile or pagan soil, then we are off on another path. But all paths come to Jesus, “the Way the Truth and the Life”, and the source of healing for all, even for the daughter. So many boundaries have been breached and new ones established. House-dogs can win the day!

Oh, the mysterious ways of the loving God. He chooses Israel to be “the light to the nations”. Then He sends his Jewish Son to invite the Gentiles to the table.

Perhaps we need to cross a few more boundaries today.

 

Mons Frank

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Year A. 13 August 2017

Last week our Gospel focused attention on the mountain top. As then, so too now, many flee to the mountains to find God and, hopefully, peace. Many do! Others expect to find God in the great natural occurrences; some remember Elijah and are content to await the gentle breeze. Today we are reminded that sea level has a role to play in the manifesting of God: “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Some today wish to return to the sacristy for such discovery, and often proclaim that it is the only place to find God. Such expression must bring a smile to the Almighty. An older expression jumps to mind: “Farms, workshops, factories and offices.”

Times are troublesome for Matthew’s readers: the Temple has gone, Peter and Paul martyred, the various communities, Jewish, Christian and Gentile, dispersed and the Romans are definitely in control. What will become of us? Part of the answer is to recall this incident and to realise that Jesus does what God does and speaks as God has spoken in their inherited Biblical tradition. So “Do not be afraid.”

On the other hand, it might be helpful and consoling to know that the action of the disciples was not all that reassuring on that occasion. Eventually Peter takes the lead, falters, calls to the Lord to save him and receives a gentle rebuke: “Man of little faith, why did you doubt?”

Our current barque in many places in our world is encountering rough seas and forceful head winds! It has happened before and, in a sense, for simply the same reason. There are those who do not wish to hear the words describing Jesus as “The Son of God.” As a throw-away line, they can be dismissed. But if they are serious, and indeed true, then those that hear need to listen and act.

We still have a Peter. We still have disciples who falter. We still have our Matthews who recall the facts for us, and we still have people in factories, on their farms, in their offices and workplaces, who stand and proclaim that Jesus is the Son of God.

Keep proclaiming.

 

Mons Frank.

Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time.   Year A. 6 August 2017

 

This week we celebrate the feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord.

There are moments in our lives that are transforming. We celebrate one such occasion in this Feast. It was a defining moment for the human race. Some suggest that on this mountain Jesus began to understand what lay ahead for him…his rejection by his own people, his suffering and violent death. Peter remembers the occasion quite well, more so after the coming of the Holy Spirit. Many of us do not get the point of our mountain experience at the time. What caused Peter to write in rather forceful terms we do not know for certain, but his words remain with us today.

“It was not any cleverly invented myths that we were repeating when we brought you the knowledge of the power and the coming of Our Lord Jesus Christ; we had seen his majesty for ourselves.”

The gift of Jesus is the most important gift that this world has received. It was rejected by the chosen race in Peter and Paul’s time, and many cultures and nations and families and individuals have rejected Him in succeeding generations. Many generations have believed, and still do, and our world has been changed for the better. However, in an age of experimenting and questioning about almost everything, can the voice of faith be heard?

Jesus told the Apostles to “Stand up and be not afraid.” That takes courage, conviction, and solid experiential knowledge. That is what we are called to do, not just for ourselves or to swell the numbers, but for the sake of the nation. We are called to show the distracted, bored, disillusioned and disenchanted face of our God and point the way to the grace we enjoy.

Such an approach led Peter and Paul, not only to Rome, but to life eternal…and we still remember them.

 

Mons Frank