Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time   Year C  20 October 2019

I believe that our PM is being criticised because the man that believes in miracles also believes in prayer. The thought that prayer might break the drought is so offensive to some ears today. Surely it’s equally offensive to those inculcated by the scriptures and traditions; not only of the Christian faith but of so many faiths now present in Australia!

Chapter 18 of Luke has two explicit parables on prayer. As you might expect, today’s is directed to the “disciples” and hence to us.   Next week, Jesus addresses “certain people”. We will deal with them then.

Today is not about this or that way or method of prayer. Rather, it is simply teaching constancy and perseverance…keep at it. It is too simplistic to say that we are not praying enough for rain, maybe in our lately enlightened age that is true. But don’t laugh at those who offer prayers. We all have heard the old adage “more things are wrought by prayer”. Ask St Monica. Ask the lady next door.  She may well be like the Gospel lady! You can imagine her belting the unjust judge over the head with her handbag! You just don’t give up.

And our judge is not unjust.

As well as working miracles and acts of kindness, Jesus reminds us of the necessity of prayer; not only reminds us but leads by example. If you have stopped, start again…in the bedroom…under the tree…whilst walking the dog, or listening to music; it is not so hard, just start and keep starting.

Let us add to the long list of “widows” who cry out to him day and night.

Mons Frank

Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time    Year C    6 October 2019

I suggest that you read, if you have time, the first four verses of Chapter 17. What follows today may make more sense. In chapter 16, particularly verses 16:14-31, we had Jesus responding to the taunts of the Pharisees. Jesus tackles them for being, in essence, hypocrites for they did not keep the moral law that they taught but loved money and acted more like Dives. Jesus now turns his attention to us (firstly addressing the disciples and then the apostles).

We must:

  • not cause one of the little ones to stumble
  • learn to forgive, even seven times a day
  • come to a fuller understanding of what faith is, and exercise it
  • and, in particular, learn that doing what is expected of disciples does not mean that our names will go up in lights!

Initially this teaching is a little deflating, certainly demanding, and a bit unexpected.

Slaves/Servants are expected to do their duty; so too the children of light.

As the TV commercial says “but that is not all. There is more.”

Let’s take first things first. Most of us will not be asked to be shot by a firing squad for our faith this coming week. We are called, in a sense, to face the slow martyrdom of doing our daily chores, caring for our loved ones, not giving scandal, offering alms to the poor, forgiving the faults of others and asking for forgiveness for our own. All hard and consistent work. Such work will have a huge effect in our local communities. The time will come to ask for ‘more faith’. If we have been faithful with our duties, then that mulberry tree might just be “uprooted and planted in the sea”.

In the meantime, let us value the gift that has been entrusted to us. It is precious!

Let us do with it that which we can and do it with pride and with joy.

Mons Frank

Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time  Year C   29 September 2019

Social Justice Sunday

 

The theme of Social Justice Sunday is ‘Making it Real’, a reflection on the digital age and its effects on society. Some might say; “a first world problem”.

The recent visit of Pope Francis to Mozambique, Madagascar and Mauritius did not rate much news space here but was a major event in those countries and is a salutary and appropriate commentary upon today’s Gospel and, maybe, an appropriate reflection for us in our digital age.

One million people in Antananarivo heard the Pope say, “As we look around us, how many men and women, young people and children are suffering and in utter need.”  75% of the people in Madagascar live on less than two dollars a day.  The Pope went on: “This is not part of God’s plan. We Christians cannot stand by with arms folded in indifference.”

So the rich man (‘Dives’) and Lazarus enter our conversation:

Dives was buried.

Lazarus was carried away to the bosom of Abraham.

Hades was not a happy place. But still the call to repentance was not heeded. Dives had scorned the injunctions of the scripture and not heeded the call of the prophets. He ignored the presence of Lazarus at his door and now he wishes to send the same Lazarus as if he was a servant to Dives’ brothers. Is it not a bit like Australia asking East Timor to be responsible for the welfare of Japan?

Our digital age presents similar challenges. Watch the families and couples at dinner in the hotels and clubs. Information overload (I am eating…) says the statement, as well as social isolation (Lazarus at the gate), abuse online, fake news, and even persecution that, sadly, leads to harm and death.

The same Pope has called us to “boldly become citizens of the digital age but to have before us the image of the Good Samaritan…”

Dives, Lazarus, the people in Mauritius, you and I are all called to love our neighbour and to bring the love of God to the new global neighbourhood. The Pope in Madagascar appealed “don’t dilute and narrow the Gospel message.”

Dives and Lazarus still exist in our world, in different forms. Let us continue to proclaim the Good News, and to roll up our sleeves and put our faith into action.

 

Mons Frank