Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary time. Year A. 23 September 2017

The Gospel today reminds me of the famous decision of Justice Higgins in 1907, often recalled as the ‘Sunshine Harvester’ judgement from which came the basic wage, our then equivalent of the denarius. Oh, where oh where has the basic wage, sufficient for a man, his wife and three children to live on, gone… the reality let alone the concept?

Yet again we are seemingly faced with a difficulty within the Matthean community for, like its founder, they welcomed “tax collectors and sinners.” This was unacceptable behaviour and teaching for the leaders of the society, even in Jesus’s time. He even dined with them!  We are confronted again with striking a balance between God’s justice and God’s mercy. We need both. The parable satisfies on every score, even though there are those who grumble…still.

With our annual Social Justice Sunday hat on, one might suggest that there is also a line that the Master (or should we call him the good employer) teaches: we would like to think that our work satisfies and contributes to our physical and general well-being. The need for people to have work that enabled them to care for their family is promoted by this parable. The 2017 Social Justice Statement, ‘Everyone’s Business: Developing an inclusive and sustainable economy’, in part, draws inspiration from the parable. We, in our changing and globalised world, might be inspired to reflect again on the need to include justice and mercy in our construct of measuring out the denarius for the labourers. They seem to be missing out in the land that first recognised the justice of having a basic wage.  In promoting such thinking, we will undoubtedly be accused of dining with “tax collectors and sinners”…but is that not where our Master wishes us to be?

 

Mons Frank

Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary time. Year A. 17 September 2017

“If everyone was an atheist, would the world be a better place?”

I have never been asked that question, until last Friday at a large discussion group in Moama. Would it?

I began the reply by suggesting that we do not have any evidence that ‘the world’ was atheist at any particular time or that the people in small or large countries were totally atheist, even if their rulers professed atheism. The last century had a number of professed atheists: Mao, Stalin (despite his early days in the seminary), Pol Pot to name a few; and even with them we don’t know what was in their mind when they died.

What we do know is that some form of belief in the supernatural, in a ‘God’, in a higher spirit, has been found in all cultures and that there is some evidence that if worship was not offered to the particular deity on certain occasions, then the punishment was severe.

The concept of forgiveness was not highly regarded by all in many cultures. Peter, the spokesman, is struggling to come to grips with forgiving seven times. The eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth, or payback systems, was firmly entrenched in his society despite the teaching of the Prophets, as it was in the Roman world in which he lived.

It has been suggested that the concept of seventy times seventy, or forgiveness without limits, is one of the greatest teachings given to the world by our founder who dramatically fulfilled the talk by the walk to Calvary…”forgive them Father” from the Cross is surely gold-plated action.

Both our ability and inability to forgive is measured by our inherited teaching and example of Christ. It has set Christianity apart from other faiths. Its practise has admirers and catcalls follow our failures to forgive.

Last Sunday’s Gospel is complimented by today’s passage. This Sunday remind s us that reconciliation is very much our business despite our forgetfulness at times, our refusal on other occasions, and our inability to offer the hand of friendship. Again, our reflections during the recent Year of Mercy may assist us in being agents of reconciliation during these bruising times of social debate in our beloved Australia.

“The life and death of each of us has its influence on others.”
Mons Frank

Twenty -Third Sunday in Ordinary Time. Year A. 10 September 2017

It is important and helpful to remember, and also call to mind, that the Gospels were written well after the gift of the Spirit at Pentecost. It is also wise to recall the setting of each Gospel. Matthew is writing, according to the scholars, around 80CE. There are many Christian communities and not all are perfect. This we know from other sources; try reading parts of Paul’s letters to the Corinthians. We also know that, despite their failings, the emerging Christian communities were known and admired for their love for one another.  This dilemma had to be dealt with and this Sunday we have one teaching of Jesus remembered and put down for the next generation, as well as an offering to assist in resolving current difficulties.

What is proposed is a threefold process:

One on one

With one or two further witnesses

Go to the Community (Church).

Not always easy, especially in our litigious society! It ought to be possible in the community of the Church; if practised, then the sign of peace becomes truly ‘peacemaking’ and not simply a call to action.

So, the card at Christmas or the long-proposed telephone call, may be the beginning of the process. Asking a friend to accompany you to a mutually acceptable place and have a cup of coffee can become the next step. And, as often happened in another age and needs to begin again, sitting down with a representative of the local church community, someone known for a listening ear and a few wise words.

Our Church has failed people in certain areas in recent times and there are many who need to hear the words of “welcome home”. We can all seek out the lost and fringe dweller, and offer the hand of friendship and propose reconciliation. The recent Year of Mercy reminded us afresh that reconciliation and forgiveness of fault and sin resides in an understanding of God’s mercy. That realisation tempers those who endeavour to set limits on willingness to forgive both fault and sin…

If you want mercy from God be merciful to others.

If you want justice from others then expect justice from God.

Such practise might save an enormous amount of Court time and effect more satisfactory and meaningful peace.

 

Mons Frank

Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time. Year A. 3 September 2017

Centuries separated Jeremiah and Jesus, yet basic truths connect them forcibly.

Both were living expressions of persons in deep love with God. Both had a similar mission: to proclaim the Word of the Lord, in season and out. Their actions brought insult and derision and both were ridiculed and held up as a laughing-stock to the nations, one a son of God, the other, the Son of the Father, foreshadowing more revelation about our relationship with the Creator.

“Jesus began to make it clear…” This teaching period followed the appointment of Peter as rock and entrusted with the keys. We don’t know how long this period of instruction lasted. Sometimes we humans need extensive instruction before we get the message, and even then, we can earn the rebuke, “Get behind me, Satan!” Taking the cross was not easy for Jeremiah or Jesus or Peter…nor for us. It may not mean physical crucifixion in Jerusalem, but it could mean something as simple as taking up our daily prayers again, pitching in with St Vinnies, speaking the truth at a meeting, pulling my weight at work; or recognising the grand culture of loving in action that we have inherited in our Church community. Paul says, “Do not model yourselves on the behaviour of the world.” That was a tough ask in 50 CE and every bit as tough today.

We turn the corner on our journey today, and now our faces are set with Jesus’s for Jerusalem. He is asking his friends and disciples to accompany him. Will we?

 

Mons Frank

Vic East News

  • Vic-East is about to go through the discernment process for the next regional couple and hope to announce that by October 22nd.
  • Vic-East will host the next Oceania Team meeting at Phillip Island – October 13-15.
  • Bernie McKenna is now Treasurer for Vic Easts