Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time 7 August 2022

A jam-packed set of readings this weekend.

Almost need a full day to unpack; but, as we have all engaged in “spring cleaning” this past week, then we will have a little more time to delve into the Word presented.

On the other hand, can we try to link “faith” and the “apron”; and keep in mind that tomorrow is Mary MacKillop’s Feast Day.

Faith…this concept is being bagged intensively in recent days, and not just religious faith. We need basic faith to make our society run. Red lights are not green. Push the up button and we expect to go up. Flick the switch and we expect light. An inspiration comes and, despite the opposition, schools are set up for the poor. Thanks, Mary!

There are many layers to, and of, faith; each presents challenges, and all meet opposition. It seems that for many people, faith is the greatest challenge to expressions of their so-called order. Hence, opposition to religious faith in so many parts of our world.

Faith needs the weapon of “the apron”. The true response of genuine faith is expressed by the sharing of possessions. I suggest that the symbolism of putting on the apron, sitting the guests down at table and serving them becomes a benchmark for we people of faith and gives us greater authority when speaking about faith.

Too many households have lost the table to gather and eat and many, indeed, have forgotten the truth of wearing the apron. Jesus himself donned the apron at the Last Supper. Mary MacKillop, in so many ways, added the apron to the call of her followers.

We, with lesser authority but with appropriate responsibility, need to wear the apron as well, as we chat about faith.

 

Mons Frank

 

Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time 31 July 2022

Spring cleaning.

Well, Spring is still a month away in Southern Australia but the oft used expression, “time for spring cleaning” is appropriate for this weekend reflection.

Just how many books do I need on the shelves or, for that matter, how many shirts? We southerners have to cope with four seasons so the culling of clothes and footware is perhaps more difficult, let alone tedious, compared to the thongs shorts and tops of the northern climes.

But we all need to do a spring clean every now and then.

The allure of many possessions, the concept that an abundance of possessions will guarantee a safe, long and happy life is promoted with glossy brochures and beautiful landscapes. The current debate over interest rates, inflation and financial policy is driven, in no small way, to protect possessions. All this preoccupation glosses over the truth that life is the greatest gift and events this week, e.g., the brutal hangings in Myanmar, the ongoing destruction of possessions in Ukraine, the desire of one person to scrap the prayer at the beginning of the Parliamentary Sitting of the Senate, demonstrate that possessions do not guarantee happiness, let alone a long life.

Getting the balance is difficult; that’s really the call of the readings this weekend.

We believe that life is a gift given by the source of all reality. Paul reminds us, the baptised, that we have been brought back to true life with Christ. That further gift, true life, takes time and energy to understand and to appreciate. Loads of possessions can get in the way.

Spring clean this Spring. Make it your resolution today!

Mons Frank

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time 24 July 2022

“Does he pray today?”

The question was addressed to the former Governor General, Army Chief of the Defence Force by Greg Sheridan in his book “Christians”.

The concept of prayer, full stop, has always been under attack…sometimes rightly so, but the desire to be in touch with “the Other” has been a feature of all major Religious Organisations and Faiths. It has withstood countless assaults in the past and will survive the current “hoo/ha” following the recent data release of the Australian Census.

The desire to “pray” is often accompanied by the sentiment of one of the disciples read in today’s Gospel, “Lord, teach us to pray”.

“I pray for the kids, the grandkids, for the government -I want them to get things right” was part of Cosgrove’s answer.

In some manner, his answer was similar to that of Jesus…Jesus outlined areas of life that we should remember, mull over, think about and utter. Even he was a little short of detail on how to do it…or was he?

Just as all are not called to be another Abraham, let alone one of the great psalmists, or a blessed contemplative, we are all called to raise our mind and voice to “pray for the kids, the grandkids” and to also petition for the growth of God’s way in our world, for bread for the hungry, and the many other needs including the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

If we feel able, then there are those gifted by the same Spirit that can lead us into deeper prayer; be it the Ignition or Benedictine or Franciscan sponsored traditions; be it the centring or contemplative tradition; let alone the now popular meditation process.

All ways, processes, formularies are good. Each to their own.

But let us all begin and make it a daily habit by just saying “thanks for all that happens each day”.

 

Mons Frank

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time 10 July 2022

We are called, happily, and yet again, to ponder the Parable of the Good Samaritan!

We love to talk about the Good Samaritan.

Increasingly, and strangely in our so-called secular societies, sometimes here, more often elsewhere, even politicians invoke the parable and urge citizens to be Good Samaritans. One of the homegrown Australian Religious orders for women is called ‘The Good Samaritans’ founded in 1857 in Sydney and modelled on the Benedictine rule.

Whilst attention is often focussed on the Priest or the Levite and their actions, others like to remember the role of the Innkeeper or even the donkey. Some link the role of the donkey to that same animal that carried Jesus into Jerusalem.

G.K Chesterton wrote a great poem about ‘The Donkey’.

Explore what suits you at the time, but don’t overlook the Samaritan.

I sometimes ponder how Jesus got away with this parable.

Imagine a Russian travelling to Kyiv, falling to robbers, and a Ukrainian, all others passing by on the other side, stops to assist…

We have plenty of evidence in the Scriptures that Jews and Samaritans did not like one another, to put it mildly.

In some sense, the parable though told years before Paul began to unpack the essence of Christianity, his words today fit the implication of “Before anything was created, he existed, and he holds all things in unity”.

Yes, the parable is about “the ethical imperative of overcoming said divisions” (Nick Spencer, The Political Samaritan”).

It seems to me; such is a role of the Church, and that challenge was on show at the plenary council this week!

Thankfully we have seen this year, hundreds of “donkeys” carrying millions of wounded refugees to safety, not without difficulty, and a seeming willingness to dip into pockets and contribute towards their wellbeing.

Long may the spirit of the Good Samaritan live amongst us!

 

Mons Frank

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time 3 July 2022

Does the Holy Spirit have a sense of humour?

Consider…this week the census data was received with great glee by certain sectors of the media. Religion at last is finished as a defining presence in Australia. Implication…God is finished!

Consider…the second and presumably the final session of the Plenary Council commences in Sydney this Sunday evening.

Consider…the implications of sending the 72 out, in pairs, with the explicit command to greet people with the words, “Peace to this house”.

In setting the date for this final session, I guess no one in the planning department anticipated the census data being released, let alone looked at the readings for this particular Sunday. School holidays might have been a prime consideration.

Who knows? But maybe, just maybe, the Holy Spirit knew!

Luke, in recent weeks, has given us three accounts of what we may now call in the broad sense, “synodality”.

*The Twelve were sent to preach and heal without Jesus.

*Messengers were sent to prepare hospitality for Jesus in a hostile place, Samaria.

*The 72 combine both functions; preaching and healing in preparation for Jesus’ arrival.

Other readings today emphasise rejoicing, gladness, delight.

Paul reminds us that we can (and indeed) boast about the knowledge of the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Indeed, a mouthful!

Speculatively…the Holy Spirit may have brought all this together. It is, after all, our duty to read the signs of the times.

Let us pray today that the Plenary Council will be good for Australia.

…religion is meant to enhance goodness in society.

Let us pray that the Plenary Council will enhance the role of the 72.

…72 are waiting to be called and sent.

Let us pray that the Plenary Council will be productive and enable us to

…“Cry out to God with joy.”

Mons Frank

P.S. Thanks to all who have sent message on the occasion of my Diamond Jubilee as Priest this week. And the award of the OAM. I will reply, but it will take some time.

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time 26 June 2022

Just by way of background, liturgically speaking…

We have celebrated the great feasts of the birth of Jesus…then his Passion, Death and Resurrection, and awaited the coming of the Holy Spirit.

In the past two weeks the Liturgy, in a sense, reinforces the principle truths of our faith that stem from these celebrations

About God…a loving Trinity.

About Jesus…His divinity, Feast of Corpus Christi…His humanity, Feast of the Sacred Heart.

Now we are plunged back to Ordinary Time. Time when we are challenged to live out what we have heard.

We enter Ordinary Time with Luke’s Gospel this Sunday at a turning point in the life of Jesus, “Jesus resolutely took the road for Jerusalem.”

We enter his journey with what might be described at a time when, as we say, “You can’t please all the people all the time.”

Some may see the incidents related as rather harsh. The image of the Good Shepherd stoically leaving the 99 to find the lost one is confronted by “Leave the dead to bury the dead” or “…they went off to another village.”

We need to pray these incidents with a full understanding of the serious nature of this journey. It is not a nice walk around the pleasant field of Galilee. He is off to Jerusalem. Confrontation, condemnation is heading his way because he has, and continues to proclaim the way of the Kingdom of God. The powers that be in Jerusalem do not wish to hear those words. After all, as he himself said when he wept over the city, “You who murder the prophets”. Yet he must off to Jerusalem. He must keep proclaiming the Kingdom.

So, there is anxiety in his voice and urgency in his actions.

Basically, he is saying, “Are you with me?”

So, for ourselves, it is a call to get on the road with Jesus, to recognise the importance of the call to be part of the Kingdom and to make sure that we put our shoulder to the plough and not turn back.

Let us not be like the Samaritans mentioned today.

Always be hospitable!

Mons Frank

Feast of Corpus Christi 19 June 2022

“He has filled the hungry with good things.”

I am not sure what Mary was thinking when she spoke these words in the presence of Elizabeth. The general context was praise for the good deeds of the God of Israel towards, and for, the people of the Covenant. There are many recorded incidents of “food” being available…just recently in the weekday readings, we recalled the great interaction between the widow preparing the last meal for her son and herself and the arrival of the grand prophet Elijah.

“Jar of meal shall not be spent,

Jug of oil shall not be emptied.”

The concept of the loving God caring for and providing “food for the journey” is never lost in the words of the Old Testament. Even in the midst of the awful deeds recorded, often so similar to what is before us in the Ukraine and in Myanmar at the moment, some understanding of “God will provide” remains and indeed shines forth.

A feature of true and complete Christianity is what we Catholics call the Eucharist. This truth raises the concept of food for the journey to an undreamed level. It is one thing and laudable to participate in Foodshare or night shelter programmes, but how do we feed the inner person?

The Eucharist, following the taking, blessing, breaking, and giving is our answer. Understanding the significance is a work of the lifetime. Whilst being committed to uttering “My Lord and My God” each time we receive, nonetheless our lack of understanding does not prevent us from benefiting by the reception.

Reception brings with it a further responsibility as the Twelve discovered in today’s incident; they are to do likewise! So too for us.

This unique act to complement fine words sets our faith apart. We humans need food for the body and spirit. Only then will we be on the path to satisfying our quest for union with the Good Lord. We are the people called to be today, “the someone who should do something about that”.

“Give them something to eat yourselves.”

 

Mons Frank

 

Trinity Sunday 12 June 2022

“God is mysterious”, so the semi confident voice proclaimed.

After a pause, I replied that God is a mystery…how we talk about God can be very mysterious! All powerful, vexatious, indifferent, angry, inactive, deaf, and the list goes on.

The Christian replies God is love, is active and, when pressed, God is Trinity. Some of which explains why it took the great minds of the Church nearly 300 years to agree on a formulation of words that could be used to speak about God. When we use the Nicene Creed at Mass or in our private prayer, we use words sanctified by many centuries of use.

Those words may in fact help us along the way to entering the mystery but, by definition, we humans that are restless until we put our name to things or people, have to learn to be patient and allow the Spirit to gently lead us into the mystery of God.

Liturgically wise, the Church celebrates today the reality of three great feasts of the Calendar… Christmas, Easter and Pentecost. These feasts bring together aspects of the living Godhead that accompany the gift of Jesus Christ. This Feast is complemented by Corpus Christi next Sunday, reminding us of the Divine nature of Jesus and by Sacred Heart on Friday week. That Feast reminds us of the human nature of Jesus.

All that then helps or hinders us in deciding whether talking about God is mysterious or confirms that it is a mystery!

None of which should prevent us from often thinking about THE TRUTH OF GOD.

For us, God is in all the mess we create and endure; God remains a God of love…God loves each one of us.

That, indeed, is mysterious, especially when we blow one another up. That indeed is a mystery.

Mons Frank

P.S. Suggest “Come Holy Spirit” often!

Pentecost Sunday 5 June 2022

“We are short staffed tonight. Please be patient.”

Notices like this are seen often around Bendigo…and elsewhere, I presume.

One, at a nearby hotel, adds, “You may experience a short wait before we can serve you.”

And then it adds, “But we are doing our best.”

I am sure that the few Apostles gathered in Jerusalem on that first Pentecost Day may well have been fearful, perhaps of the Jews again. After all, they were in Jerusalem! Perhaps somewhat confused by the recent command to go first to Galilee and after those experiences, to now go back to Jerusalem. What is going on? They remembered his words, “Go to the whole world” and even with the gift of the Spirit were surely thinking, “But we are so short staffed!”

It is one thing to have had that wonderful experience of speaking in foreign languages and, after all, they were only Galileans; and then to wake up next day with some understanding of what had happened and, what’s more, what has to happen.

They, too, perhaps said, “Please be patient”.

In time, they realised that a great part of their mission was what Phillip learned in the presence of the Ethiopian eunuch, “How can I, unless someone shows me.”

It is nearly 2000 years since the first Pentecost.

Against a background of bustling suburbs, declining rural population, cultural changing CBDs, and a few resurgent regional centres, there are many signs of short staff in our Australian Church communities. There are even places very short of customers.

We, perhaps, need to take a deep breath and ponder, are “we hearing them preaching in our own language about the marvels of God?” and, secondly, what sort of staff do we really need?

Big questions as the delegates gather for the next session of the Plenary council.

In the meantime, “You may experience a short wait before we can serve you.”

It is consoling to know “we are doing our best…”

But…we are called to renew the face of the earth.

COME HOLY SPIRIT.

.Mons Frank