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

Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time   Year C   22 September 2019

“God’s love for the world.

Vast, flood of mercy,

flung on resistance”.       Denise Levertov

Life can be, and often is, complex.

Sometimes complex questions can only be successfully addressed to small groups. Today the disciples are addressed. Perhaps the story was out about a rich steward of a vastly richer master who had been caught siphoning some funds despite his enormous salary? And even the rich master acknowledged the managerial qualities of his servant in learning about the actions taken to ensure his own future. He still got the sack but ensured his future.

Digging and begging was not on his agenda!

I doubt if that scenario is on the agenda of the top ten executives reported in our papers this week. The children of the world are still astute in dealing with their ups and downs!

It seems that Jesus was reminding “the children of light” to clean up their act now that the new prophet had arrived. Thus, a pertinent moment of decision for his disciples. What are you, who follow, doing to make sure you will be welcomed into “the tents of eternity”? This warning coupled with the final injunction “You cannot be the slave both of God and of money” is another plank in the following of Jesus platform.

Selfishness and generosity constantly disturb our equilibrium.

We are called to be generous…with our time, with our thoughts, with our deeds, with our wealth.

We may never measure up to the quoted standard:

” Vast, or flood of mercy”

and we will experience “resistance”.

Let’s add listening and patience and understanding to our list; generosity, above all, and that attitude will bring great changes to our lives and help change the world.

 

Mons Frank

Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C 15-09-2019.

Pope Francis is increasingly being referred to as a ‘Prophet’. We know that in many sections of some communities he is unpopular. I am not sure that popularity is written into the job description for the Papal Office. He recently spoke about the seeming reaction to his teaching and actions, particularly the negative ones and assured us that he can cope.

It struck me that the opening line of the Gospel this week might apply to him as they did to the other prophet, Jesus.

“The tax collectors and the sinners were all seeking the company of Jesus to hear what he had to say…”

“The Pharisees and the scribes complained…”

Much earlier in Luke (7:29-30) we read:

“All the people and tax agents had heard…”

“But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected God’s plan…”

It reminds me of the oft. quoted phrase: “Let the one with ears to hear, listen.”

And all that is important to understand the three parables that follow. All try to remind us about the wonderful truth of our God as revealed in the scripture and hopefully in each of our lives:

  • God loves us
  • We are his daughters and sons
  • We are not slaves as both sons thought, in vastly different ways and alienated themselves from their loving Father, but in different ways.

He has come to seek out the lost; our media highlights the huge numbers of lost in sometimes very graphic ways. We have a twenty-four-hour lifeline…Call upon our merciful Father…

And found we are, when we genuinely listen for his voice.

Mons Frank

Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time   Year C   1 September 2019

It is natural to break a journey, even in an A300. We look forward to the drink and food trolley. It sometimes enables us to break the ice with our next seat passenger. It sometimes enables us to have a little quiet time…but things happen even at 39,000 feet.

Food is the catalyst and being seated around a table enables the discourse to be productive.

Time and place are not available for this weekend’s incident; we know not where this meal took place. However, the main ingredients are present:

  •  A meal
  •  A leading Pharisee
  •  “They”
  •  It was the Sabbath
  •  He had just cured the man with dropsy

They watched him closely…so much for a genuine invitation!

The doors are open for another lesson… Will those present have the appropriate ears?

There are pecking orders across all segments of society…and of all societies, not just the G7. Some are necessary, but places are not the real reason to get excited; to be invited is reason enough.

At the table we are meant to be fed, nourished, challenged and inspired. If in a sense there is no room on the guest list or on the agenda for the crippled, the lame and the blind, then our meal together will be the poorer. We may not always be able to celebrate like L’ Arche does, but our agenda must be open, like their tables are open.

Today the meal at the table is almost a forgotten art in so many houses. Real homes have real meals!

Jesus has just added “the measure of the Kingdom” to the common practise of hospitality so valued in his society.

Is it present in ours?

Mons Frank

Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time  Year C 25 August 2019

A lot of water has flowed under my bridge in the past few days, and yours.

The appeal process judgement handed down last Wednesday now seemingly to be referred to the High Court.

The saga continues.

Our Annual Diocesan Priests’ In-service.

Tim Fischer, a faithful member of our diocesan family, died.

The Formation Weekend for Teams attracted representatives from the Philippines, New Zealand and all  states of Australia.

The annual general meetings of Cardijn Community International (CCI) and its local expression, Cardijn Community Australia (CCA), were held this weekend.

It was difficult to “hold up your limp arms and steady your trembling knees” when faced with the evidence of much confusion, some division, but great signs of enough work being done by committed people in the field of marriage, particularly for couples and their relationship, let alone the efforts being made to raise in ‘See, Judge and Act’ scenarios, the social issues present in our community.

For me it was almost too much of a good thing!

Upon reflection the scenarios outlined…

  • the death of a very good man, and public figure,
  • the coming together of people from distant islands trying to enter by the narrow door,
  • the complexities of modern living,
  • all allowing themselves to be trained by the Lord.

It just seems appropriate for me, a little late to share with you, that despite all the trauma going on, many good people are getting on with the job, working to take their places in the Kingdom of God.

Possibly, just possibly, in much the same way as they were when Hebrews was written.

Mons Frank

ACT-NSW August-September newsletter

ACT-NSW August-September newsletter

In this Issue…

Reflecting on 45 Years in Teams – Eula and Keith McLaughlin . . . .page 1
Living Team Life through Liturgy. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .     .page 2
Vale Gerard McDonnell . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .      page 4
What are local Teams Reading. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .     page 4
Sydney Sector Teams News. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .    page 5
Oceania Leadership and Formation Retreat. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . page 6
Renaissance of Marriage 2019 Conference . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .page 6

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time   Year C 18 August 2019

Division!

What a week to be asked to reflect, discuss and pray about “division”.

*Hong Kong with the issue of basic legal rights.

*The Pacific Forum with differing views about survival of Island nations.

*Victoria at loggerheads with the understanding of the seal of Confession.

*The world awaiting a no-win response to the Cardinal’s appeal against his conviction.

*The sign on the light pole not far from me that reads “Do you use speed or ice?”. It is an invitation to
participate in a research project by Monash University with absolute confidentiality promised!

And we will hear proclaimed, “No, I tell you, but rather division.”

So, what is Jesus really on about?  We know that after the Resurrection he constantly greeted people with the words, “Peace I give to you.”

Let’s remind ourselves again, just where we are at, accompanying Jesus on the road to Jerusalem. In a sense, Jesus is becoming more resolute with his journey and more determined to prepare those who choose to follow for the hardship ahead.

To follow Jesus will, ipso facto, cause division. It did in 33 CE, and it does now. There is no easy road for the committed disciple. Jesus is calling upon those who hear his words, to conversion before it is too late. Our next confession may not be here, in or outside a box, but before the judgement seat itself!

If Jesus is “the way, the truth and the life”; if he and his works of healing are a signal from God, then we humans need to do something about the way we live.  Both doing and not doing will cause division. We, thus, reach the fork in the road!

Eucharist offers strength to take the path less travelled.

Mons Frank

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time   Year C  11 August 2019

Our world is, in a sense, traumatised by the word ‘security’; be it in the aftermath of Christchurch, let alone the recent U.S. shootings. Our on-going battle with the after-effect of Manus Island, let alone the necessity to have a Working with Children Card, causes us grief.

Last week the search was on for security by building bigger barns…for what purpose and I guess we have all lost a relative or dear friend during the course of this week. The barns did not save!

Jesus returns to this theme of security. So many now surround themselves with spiritual CCTV cameras, high walls and some even have armed guards. In a sense we try to not hear God knock on our door.

Perhaps it was not so different in Jesus’ time:

“listen you who have ears to hear”.

So today, Jesus raises the bar with his chosen ones. The kingdom comes but there is a cost: what distracts me from allowing the kingdom to enter my door?

Too many locks …

Too many buts …

Too many things to do…

Oh, come back next week. By then I will have cleared the desk, been to Vinnies with the surplus goods, made the donation I have been promising to do…and I will be alert and waiting.

However, I may be open to the call too late. The invitation to the kingdom may have passed me by, like the thief in the night.

It is scary to think that the kingdom may be offered to me. It can evoke fear. What will it cost? Not many stood around the cross on that fatal afternoon. The merciful Lord does give us all another chance.

So be alert, be on your guard and say ‘yes’ the next time.

Mons Frank