Your indulgence; an introduction this week!
As most of you know, I live in Bendigo (the centre of the universe), and it has been a significant week for us. On Tuesday we learnt that a new Bishop had been appointed to Sandhurst, the earlier name of the City of Bendigo. Rome does not necessarily change names because cities do. Shane Mackinlay, former Master of Catholic Theological College, will be ordained on October 16.
On Friday, in the presence of the Premier of Victoria, the first sod on the site of the Bendigo Islamic Association Cultural Centre and Mosque was turned after many battles, protests and court hearings.
On his journey to Jerusalem Jesus was observed “praying”. Prophets in the Jewish tradition were meant to be “people of prayer”. It is instructive to look at some sections of the Scripture and note the various approaches to prayer by the key leaders and Prophets. We have the approach of Moses today, and note that the disciples had observed or heard about the approach of John the Baptist.
Prayer is mysterious. There are many teachers; libraries full of books, CD’s, and videos while apps are available following all sorts of traditions. The bottom line is the invitation to all; to try and to pray.
I don’t know who prayed and how they prayed about the Mosque and Bishop. We know that many did. It is perhaps simplistic to say that “our prayers were answered”. On the surface…yes, but what sort of a Bishop and Mosque will we enjoy? So, maybe the next stage of our prayer needs to start; we don’t want stones, snakes or scorpions. We need bread, fish and eggs and both Bishop and Mosque must provide bread for their respective communities. Like the friend, we must keep knocking, even if it is midnight.
If we are too busy to pray, then we are busier than God wants us to be.
Fifty years on.
We were just grappling with English in the Liturgy then (in some places only), and the new Lectionary had not completely arrived (in some places) and the challenge for Priests had been launched (in some places) to prepare a homily based upon the Readings for the day. It is a fair guess that we, all of us, were not confronted with the readings we have this weekend. The maths experts may enjoy working out the Word of God placed before us that Sunday when a man walked upon the Moon!
My eye caught the phrase this weekend, “the message which was a mystery hidden for generations and centuries, has now been revealed to his saints.”
Fifty years on, it is being recalled in some places that Buzz Aldrin, with the permission of NASA and his local Church, took the ‘Sacrament’ blessed at his local church under the form of bread and wine and had a minute’s silence in the command ship and celebrated in his tradition. “The mystery is Christ among you.” I think St Paul would have rejoiced!
We all grapple with the confronting and comforting doctrine of the reality of the gift of the presence of the R isen Christ among us…the Sacrament of the Eucharist is very much a centrepiece of Catholic doctrine. It has borne the heat and been tested in the fires of debate and persecution. Not all believers have been able to accept the fullness of this teaching. Many are still on the way; we still need to follow St Pauls words:
“This is the wisdom in which we thoroughly train everyone and instruct everyone, to make them all perfect in Christ.”
So let us rejoice that amidst all the noise and comment that this fifty year anniversary brings forth, someone gave unique witness to the great truth of the presence of the Risen Christ amongst us.
Let’s open our hearts to embrace both Martha and Mary; be of service at the table and be a worthy recipient of its fruit.
We encounter the Samaritans for the third time in as many weeks. Coincidence or perhaps deliberate by whoever organised the liturgical readings.
Some might say that we could enshrine, “oh, be a Good Samaritan” into our language. There is a recent book named, I think, ‘The Political Samaritan’ which seeks to uncover how this story has influenced high places over the years. And not only high places.
Our current Pope is seeking to make our Church more missionary, in outlook and in fact. Not necessarily asking us to rush off to distant places and stand in the village square to immediately ram down the locals throats the gift of Jesus, but to open eyes to our current reality and ask “Why is that person lying on the road and no one is helping?”. One great truth of the parable is that most of the listeners in the story would not have criticised the Levite or the Priest. They were obeying the Law. They were protecting their status, and their faith. When the lawyer responded with the teaching, “You must Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind” let alone, “and your neighbour as yourself”, the penny did not drop. Samaritans were not neighbours.
Jesus is in effect saying …”Look at your Laws.” And he may be well saying the same to us today: canonically and civilly!
The lawyer moved a little and replied, “The one who took pity on him”. But the Samaritan “was moved with compassion”. Conversion has begun but is not completed.
So for ourselves. Let us all be “Good Samaritans”. Not simply because the concept is good. But because people are more important than laws, actions speak louder than words, and pity may bring bandages, but compassion will overcome the evil that reduces the wounded person to an inconvenient object.
Be a true “Good Samaritan”.