Feast of Christ the King. 26 November 2017

It’s that time again. The end and the beginning. The cycle of death and resurrection continues, as Paul says, “so all will be brought to life in Christ”.

It takes some doing and even after 2000 years of effort, not only do we need to begin…again, but we may even have to learn again the basic truths that we are committed to.

Pope Francis will be in one of his “peripheries” this coming week during the liturgical end and the beginning. It seems likely that both Myanmar and Bangladesh will not only receive messages of thanks, but possibility receive a word or two from this Sunday’s Gospel. The fact that the sheep and goats in Myanmar are brown in colour will not distort the message.

” I was hungry …

I was thirsty …

I was a stranger…

Naked…

Sick…

In prison.”

And you did something about it!

We will wait and see.

One response might be for each of us to ponder his message week by week in the light of the Sunday readings.

I might try to do that myself.

 

Mons Frank

 

P.S. Thanks for your words of encouragement over the past year. If you wish to continue, do nothing. Otherwise let me know.

Thirty -Third Sunday in Ordinary Time. Year A. 19 November 2017

 

A significant week for Australia.

The vote on same-sex marriage indicates a shift in the attitudes of a substantial number of Australians and left a solid number of no voters wondering what had happened. And it has happened! What the future holds, and what the ramifications of this change will bring forth, is a matter for great speculation. In that context, the report in the papers that the Japanese Rail Company had apologised to its customers for sending a train on its journey 20 seconds early says much about another culture, and deserves to be discussed here at home.

Pondering today’s readings indicates challenges ahead. Wife and husband! Will we be able to proclaim that? O blessed are those who fear the Lord (and look over their shoulder to see if Big Sister is watching).

But it seems to me that we face a moment of truth as measured by the Gospel. Have we spent our talents? Did we invest any with the bankers or did we bury them (or it) in the dirt? Have we accepted the loss of moral authority by our inept handling of recent challenges?  Have we been living in the dark for too long resisting the call to be people of the light?

If we continue to keep belting our heads against a brick wall we will continue to get headaches!

 

Perhaps the circuit breaker could be the forthcoming Plenary Council; but it needs to use the talents of all the Church. We have fallen into the dark before, and found our way out guided by the Spirit. Let us create an atmosphere of encouraging all to be enterprising with their talents and “not be afraid of the dark”. There are many awaiting the call, but that call needs to be a call akin to that made by our Pope. In going to Myanmar and Bangladesh he exemplifies clear leadership. Break new ground, go to the peripheries, take a positive message, surround it with love, be respectful of persons and be careful of demanding total obedience on matters that don’t matter.

Let each of us do the same with the talents that we have.

 

Mons Frank

 

Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary time.    Year A. 12 November 2017

The liturgical year is galloping to a close, as is the civic year.  “Where did all the days go?” is a rather common saying these past weeks.  Perhaps we have been asleep like the ten virgins! What do we find when the bells are ringing, and action is expected of us?

No oil in our lamps nor in our esky?

Like lamps, our bodies need fuel to do their jobs. The world news constantly gives us examples of the effects of lack of food and good drinking water. Our baptismal life need proper nourishment to complement the physical life of our bodies. Today we are all reminded that the Bridegroom, Jesus, will come to invite us to his banquet.

Will we be ready?

One of the great gifts of life with Jesus is what Paul picked up very early in his preaching: hope. People then and now often are troubled, puzzled, fearful of death… What’s it all about?  In a recent conversation, a prominent country funeral director commented that his company enjoyed Catholic funerals because “they, even in difficult situations, always offered hope, hence Paul’s words that “you do not grieve about them like the other people who have no hope”.

That is the promise.

 

The reality depends upon us having oil in the lamp and a little in reserve against a rainy day.

So, this week, we begin to check our Lamp.

Do we pray?

Do we give of ourselves, let alone of our possessions?

Do we read the Scriptures?

Do we strive to love our God?

Do we strive to bring love to others?

These practises will enable us to trim our lamps when the Bridegroom eventually comes, as surely, He will.

 

Mons Frank

Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time. Year A. 5 November 2017

Leadership. The concept keeps being discussed; not only in Matthew’s Gospel but, seemingly, in every department of living. The cry is often for positive or good or caring or even honest leadership. Civic calls and criticisms invade our newspapers, our news broadcasts, our TV and are certainly found in the confines of the new expression ‘the pub test’!

Matthew’s emerging community, engaged in setting a new direction and seeking to draw upon their past heritage, but with eyes looking to the new horizons taught to them by Jesus, were often engaged in fierce conflicts with their former leaders, the Scribes and Pharisees; much like Jesus was in his time with the Chief Priests and Elders. Conflict begun before the fall of Jerusalem in 70CE, continued and continues today.

The emerging Christian communities listening to Jesus, strove to adopt different expressions of leadership. So, for Paul in today’s excerpt, he acts like “a mother feeding and looking after her own children”. Paul strove not to be “a burden on any one of you”, echoing perhaps that teaching of Jesus, “they, (Scribes and Pharisees) tie up heavy burden and lay them on men’s shoulders”.

The new Christian communities had begun a new life together and were asked to participate equally and fully in the emerging community.  The task of us all taking our role in the community, was addressed, yet again, by our Pope echoing the Vatican II insistence of “fully conscious, and active participation” in the liturgical life of the community, and developed since then to all parts of Church life. That reform has hit many stumbling blocks, like so many efforts since Jesus.

Matthew’s model of egalitarian communal leadership has been largely ignored down the ages, but it is still proclaimed. The other model based on power, property and prestige, may give us status in the eyes of the world… but that is not what we are meant to be. Thus, another call this week: We all have some form of leadership responsibilities. How do we exercise such power? Jesus is still a model. “The greatest among you must be your servant.”

 

Mons Frank

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time.  Year A. 29 October 2017

Love. Certainly, a word of the moment.

What do we really mean when we use this word about our clothes, our cat or dog, let alone our holidays or even our house…and then lump it all with “I love my children”. Other languages have many shades of expressions and some have different words. The scholars tell us that Jesus used three different expressions when asking Peter “do you love me?”

  1. Seeking an answer in the Platonic sense
  2. Seeking an answer in the Filial sense
  3. Seeking a response to “a willingness to die for me kind of love”.

It becomes complicated when we simply say in English: “I love you”. Yes, “maybe or what do I love” and, at the periphery, the media encourages the mind to always move in the sexual direction.

It may be helpful to remember that by the time of Jesus, the scholars of Israel had identified 613 precepts of the Torah. How could a pious Jew keep those let alone the average battler?  Our modern society seems headed in the same way. Good government is sometimes equated with “we passed thirty-five pieces of legislation this term, set up a new department to enforce the new laws and added to the pile of red tape”. Sometimes this simply strangles the life of the community.  I think many in Israel would have felt quite at home in modern Australia.

So where does that leave us today?

Our God wants us to thrive, to live with joy and not repression, we are to live in trust not in fear.  “I have come that you may have life and have it to the full.” Jesus reminds us that striving to live each day, showing our love for God and our neighbour, gives us a precise platform to praise our God and care for one another.

 

Mons Frank