Fourth Sunday of Advent 20 December 2020

Oh, to have been a fly on the wall and to have witnessed the most important encounter between heaven and earth since the creation of the human race! All done in a fleeting minute, with a very insignificant person in a, then, insignificant town, in a relatively insignificant country. 

How odd of God. Or rather, (when we take our darkened spectacles off) why should we be surprised? 

All through the oral and written history of our religious tradition, God chooses the weak to confound the strong or you may prefer the words of the Magnificat, “He casts the mighty from their thrones and raises the lowly”.

But…always in God’s time, at God’s pace, and in God’s way.

And there’s the rub. 

We want it now, immediately and on our terms.

Maybe that is why we have four Sundays in Advent. To slow us down a little (we have nearly rushed into pre- Covid speed in Victoria), to help us really look at the Lucan story and notice more keenly that Mary took her time, asked pertinent and respectful questions before she answered, “let what you have said be done to me.”

And the world changed as it awaited the Saviour.

As God offered Mary a choice, in many similar ways we, too, are offered opportunities to side with God and to bring sense and peace and hope to our world.

Let us resolve, again, to give the Angels good news of our responses to report back to heaven!

Have a very happy family and prayerful gathering this Christmas.

Mons Frank


Third Sunday of Advent 13 December 2020

What is normal and, for that matter, what is Covid-19 normal? It is a bit like “Who are you?” and possibly there would be more answers (and subsequent questions) than John received. Likewise, there are just as many anonymous “We must take back an answer to those who sent us”, Pharisees today! 

This past week has been a rather fascinating taste of what was and what might be, in my life. You may enjoy looking back on your week…and ponder the experiences.

I began with the celebration of the first big congregation at one of our large Churches, St Kilian’s in Bendigo. Congregation very quiet, no coughing. Not many children. The week ended with celebrating Mass in a small rural setting for the first time since March. Interspersed were two very large funerals, a solemn Ordination, a most joyous wedding. The deacon had been waiting for five months (after seven years of study) and the young couple, on hold since Easter. In between, Christmas gathering with my Team and a review of the small Cardijn group in Bendigo. 

The palpable joy of being together was evident at all occasions. There were abundant shakes of the hand, hugs and kisses. People were delighted to be together and to make contact. Touch is important for us humans. “Come Thomas, place your hand in my side, in my wounds, and believe.” 

Isaiah’s words came alive for me.

 +Good news for the poor – many felt the poor that they experienced, lifted by being back in familiar                  surroundings. 

 +To bind up hearts that were broken – reunions of grandparents with the especially new grandchildren.

 +Liberty to captives – for some, the veil of fear had been lifted.

 +Freedom to those in prison- the prison of separation.

 +Proclaim a year of favour…what proclamation do we bring to our world and families this Christmas
 after this experience? 

Many have rediscovered the pleasure of the garden, some revived the ancient craft of knitting. Families have often reconnected, and the boon of Zoom has eased burdens.

Isaiah also said today “For as the earth makes fresh things grow, so will the Lord make both integrity and praise spring up in the sight of the nations.” 

If we dig a bit deeper, it is happening before our eyes. 

Let’s embrace the good that has come our way and not return to the suffocating demand of recent times.

Mons Frank


Second Sunday of Advent 6 December 2020

The book of Isaiah is read often in Advent (and Lent). Its many prophetic utterances urge a person to look for hope amidst the darkness of the contemporary world. In Isaiah 21 we read, “What is left of the night?” a question addressed to the watchman. “Morning coming, also the night.”

Locally, we seem to be entering morning. Traffic is heavier, more shops are open. Coffee is available on many street corners, we are back, in limited numbers, in Churches…then night descends. As if our community has not had enough to worry about or to consider, the newly elected Council has set the dogs running with a proposed action to remove or change the customary prayer at the beginning of their meetings. Night is not far away!

Mark is said to write, not simply to urge his readers to engage with Jesus…of Nazareth…in Galilee, but also to offer an alternative to the “night” of their experiences; a rule by demonic powers or brutal tyrants.

Our world today needs that alternative.

Isaiah in today’s reading offers that hope. Isaiah promises new action by God who will be victorious.

John was well aware of the call to conversion offered by the waters of the Jordan. He knew that was but a beginning, Baptism in the Holy Spirit was to come, and Paul was able to introduce the truth of our being made adopted sisters and brothers, by that self-same Spirit. Heady stuff then and now.

John came out of the wilderness, not from the Temple. Pope Francis keeps reminding us, you will find the Lord on the peripheries. This likewise was heady stuff in 30CE, and still is today.

It is Advent. It is time to begin again. The word we take this week from our Psalm is surely appropriate:

 “I will hear what the Lord God has to say.”

Mons Frank