Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time  Year C       17 February 2019

‘Hope blooms in the desert’ was the banner headline of the English Tablet this week…a reflection on the visit of Pope Francis to the Emirates.  The banner headline of the Saturday Australian was ‘Farmers of the drought count flood costs’, a reflection on the now abundant green grass and the loss of 450 cattle on St Elmo Station outside Julia Creek.

“How happy are you who are poor” says the gospel today. I am not sure how I would approach the homily in Julia Creek this weekend. I think it would be easier in Abu Dhabi!

The proclamation of the Beatitudes is that of the Prophetic Messiah. Jesus begins to fulfil the words of Isaiah which he uttered in the Synagogue in Nazareth. The new era has begun: whatever he meant on this occasion, his kingdom was to have a focus on the “poor” in Luke, and the “poor in spirit” in Matthew.

Poor is poor in Julia Creek and in Abu Dhabi!

We use the Scripture term, “prophetic”. Others use the expression “the upside-down logic of the gospel”. Our current Pope seems very much at home with this description as he reminded his many listeners in the Emirates that the Beatitudes represent an “overturning of that popular thinking according to which it is the rich and powerful who are blessed, those who are successful and acclaimed by the crowds”. The Pope went on: “just and meek, he did not offer resistance, but allowed himself to be condemned unjustly. In this way Jesus brought God’s love into the world”.

Fulfilling the challenge of the Beatitudes is a never-ending task. Each generation has to tackle it. And we will have a rather challenging task adding the ‘hell and high water’ of the current disasters to the seemingly huge challenges posed by homelessness, to name but one.

The Gospel extends the hand of hope and perhaps cuts through the tangle of red tape that strangles action in our times. In many ways the Pope’s visit was a prophetic sign that things can be different.

Can we, too, in our communities be such a sign of hope?

Mons Frank

P.S. For those in Teams, the Bishop of Hamilton NZ will formally inaugurate the Teams Movement in his Diocese. Let’s pray that all goes well.

 

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time    Year C   10 February 2019

An initial work of the Prophetic Messiah.

Where do we go to find our leaders? What a shake up for another big end of town.  Would the bright tellers have been more understanding of the customers and not as interested in bonuses and profit?  Who knows? Finding good and faithful leaders is difficult for all ranks of society.

It would have been presumed that leadership would be found amongst the scribes and chief priests. But the prophetic side of Jesus went to the countryside and to a group of small business men. They knew their trade. They obviously were reasonable providers (I wonder what Peter’s wife thought when Jesus spoke to her husband and he took off, leaving her to catch the fish as well as do the dishes). So Peter responded, acknowledged the Prophet, and began the journey to “net” people.

We have another example, in Luke’s words, where the contrast is exposed: the seeming lack of human potential and the subsequent reality of Divine fulfilment. We recall Mary saying, “I know not man”. And Elizabeth receiving a message from the Angel about her barrenness and Gods fertility. Indeed, nothing is impossible to God!  (Let us be on the lookout for further examples of the reversal by God’s action to seemingly crazy objections by humans.)

So we are off and running! Some have thrown in their lot with Jesus. We know that they did not disappear from Capernaum full time. Winter would have been impossible. We do not know all that he taught them. We know some of their journeys were with Jesus and some were without him. We also know that Jesus saw something in Peter that gave him confidence; that in time Peter would ‘strengthen his followers’ as all supreme leaders of our faith are required to do. Like Peter, they have, on occasions, been called from unexpected backgrounds as you and I are similarly called.

For ourselves, do not try to escape by putting your head in the sand, hoping not to be called. That act might just incline the Lord to call…and ask us to go “netting”.

Mons Frank

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time     Year C  3 February 2019

It has been hot in the southern parts of Australia, but it was very hot in the Synagogue of Nazareth. We talk about road rage, and that can be violent. And for Jesus, his own people turned on him and, in the words of the Gospel, “hustled him out of the town…took him up to the brow of the hill…….intending to throw him down the cliff…” Things were indeed hot on that hill and would be even hotter on the Calvary hill a few months later.

Why?

We began these reflections for 2019 by asking the three great questions that Luke seems to be about answering:

Who is Jesus?……He is God’s Son!

What sort of a Son is he?……An obedient Son!

What kind of a Messiah is he to be?……A prophetic Messiah!

His crime in Nazareth seems to be that he dared to proclaim the Good News to everyone, citing the examples of Elijah and Elisha who delivered the ‘others’ from famine and drought and cured the lepers from Syria.

How could a genuine Prophet and one claiming to be “anointed with the Spirit” be interested in ‘others’?

His platform is not strictly economic or political, but it will have those overtones if carried out. Its revolutionary proposal is for Jesus and his followers to offer cures, comfort, healing and teaching directly to the people and this radical approach is compounded by their personal efforts being offered directly to all people, not simply to the chosen people. It was too much. You can’t say all are welcome. But He did and asks us to do the same.

 

P.S. For those with access to Amoris Laetitia, Chapter four of that document has Pope Francis reflecting upon today’s second reading. Well worth a visit and well worth doing it in a small group.

 

Mons Frank

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time  Year C    27 January 2019

Australia Day weekend. Possibly only in Australia.

The statement in the Gospel today ought to be pondered in the context of these holidays. At Lake Weeroona this morning, we were greeted by the sight of portable concrete bollards running parallel with the adjacent road. And we sang, somewhat tiredly (after all, it did make 47.7 Celsius on Friday). What has happened to the land of the free? And then sang more for “those who’ve come across the seas”. We happily have settled some 2200 Karen people in the past ten years and the latest figure is that 162 families are buying their own houses.

So where does good news for the poor, liberty to captives, new sight for the blind, set the downtrodden free, let alone proclaim the Lord’s year of favour, fit in with our year just beginning? It will be full steam ahead next week with school resuming.

Nehemiah reminds us of an earlier beginning, and it began with a rediscovery of the Word of God. Jesus, and we note that he could read and we wonder who taught him, kickstarts his ministry at home with Scripture. He adapts it to his circumstances and, as we will see next week, gets run out of town for his proclamation. Thus, he answers one of our Lucan questions, he is to be a Prophetic Messiah and will, in time, suffer the fate of the Prophet.

 With the Pope in Panama proclaiming the example of Saint Oscar Romero, maybe our looking at the Gospel this week may lead us to ponder in our homes, at work, in our Teams or in a Cardijn inspired group, let alone in our parishes, that we too “have been anointed with the Spirit” and we are called to announce today that same call of Isaiah and of Jesus to our generation. And not only us, but our Church must discover, via the call to the Plenary Council, just who today are the poor, the captives, the blind and the downtrodden. Then we set about doing something about our discovery…in Church and in small groups; at work, at play…and in our personal lives.

Happy Australia weekend…we are indeed blessed.

Mons Frank