14th Sunday in Ordinary Time. 5 July 2020

Many of us have been to Hong Kong. We have watched the action in that city, pre and post Covid-19. We have seen footage of brutal power being exercised since July 1.

I feel saddened for the families and my church-going friends still in that city facing the future. The chariots, horses and bows of the first reading are being rolled out again as we write… and there is no sign of a king coming to the people riding on a donkey!

We know that hundreds of years after this was written, Jesus himself rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, demonstrating his approach to power based on his teaching. Yet again, many dismissed this approach. But he did not back off. He kept proclaiming another way and, knowing that his way was revolutionary and people centred, he reminded those who choose this path that they will grow weary and feel overburdened. He, thus, calls us to come to him again and again. To our ears it sounds crazy. His yoke easy?  His burden light? 

Once again, the paradox of the Gospel.

Here in Australia and particularly Victoria, we are enduring, like the world, the hardships of Covid -19. Nothing to be compared with many other countries. That is not of great consolation when you live in certain designated postcodes, nor is it to be compared with the suffering of the poorest of the poor sifting through the tailings of the jade mines in Myanmar.

So…………

  • Can we smile a little more this week?
  • Can we offer a cheering word to those overburdened?
  • Can we petition more earnestly for the downtrodden of the world?
  • Can we ride into people’s lives…on a donkey?
  • Can we proclaim peace for the nations?
  • Can we help all we meet to find rest for their souls? 

Mons Frank

 

Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time 28-6-2020

Another turbulent week in Australia. Whatever the word ‘ordinary’ means in our Liturgical usage, the Dictionary tells us the word is used to express “regular, normal customary usual” etc. On that definition, our Australia has had a rather ‘ordinary’ week. 

A High Court Judge exposed by the High Court, an MP raided by ASIO and the Federal Police and suspended immediately by his leader, a spike in Victoria, mostly in Melbourne, of reported Covid-19 cases, tales of people refusing to be tested, and travel bans on Victorians by most of the other States (just in time for school holidays). Today’s report of 40,000 new cases in one day in America helps the perspective. 

Against all that, we are called to consider in part, “Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me; and those who welcome me, welcome the one who sent me.”

It is the call to mission and to spread the good news, news which if we all adhere to it and try our best, would really see a different world and that world would become ‘ordinary’ for all.

Paul reminds us of the way forward…our Baptism in Christ. Mysterious, yes, but unlike the mystery of Covid-19 which brings disease, sickness, suffering and death, Baptism in faith leads us in the resurrection of Christ “to live a new life.”

On the surface, the seemingly harsh sayings in the Gospel really call us to get our priorities right. As Augustine said, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” Augustine loved his mother Monica more when he discovered his love for God. So too for us.

Covid-19 may ultimately be a call to wake up and be reminded that “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy people.”

Our mantra this week, amidst all the doom, gloom and bad news, is to recall that we have been called out of darkness and into his marvellous light. 

Hence, we pray: 

“Forever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.”

Mons Frank

P.S. As I celebrate 58 years of Priesthood this Monday, it is a bit confronting to realise that I have been a priest longer than our new Bishop has been on the Earth. Peace to all.

 

 

Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time - 21-06-2020

e return to the Liturgy in ‘Ordinary Time’, as our world suggests we are returning to ‘normal time’. There are some doubts about the latter and one might say that our ‘Ordinary Time’ should not be the same each year, even if the cycles of prayers and readings remains the same. We were drawn into the Mystery of the Passion and Death of Jesus, exploding with the gift of Pentecost. It ought to mean something different, perhaps truths more refined or honed each year. That, then, enables us to look at the readings with enriched lenses.

We are told that Matthew’s Gospel was written bearing in mind his mainly Jewish community, now under attack from the old guard who would not accept the teaching and revelation of the Jew, Jesus. So, life was increasingly difficult. Hence “Do not be afraid.” That injunction may be read quite differently in Hong Kong these days!

What goes around, comes around is our saying. Jesus puts it a little differently, “For everything that is now covered will be uncovered.” Many have discovered that truth in public life this week in Victoria, as our Church similarly experienced in the Royal Commission. Truth has a habit of surfacing. The enticement to secrecy is alluring; the pain of subsequent revelation is often excruciating. The machinations of “friends”, as Jeremiah states, still exists. Fake news exists not only in America; but in Covid-19 time, some in our city are blaming the Karen refugees for importing the virus into Australia!

Like Jeremiah, we have recommitted our cause to the Lord and reinforced that commitment in the Easter celebrations. Paul reminds us that “It is even more certain that divine grace, coming through the one man, Jesus Christ, came to so many as an abundant free gift.” That is our inheritance.

Today:
*Recommit to the values of the Gospel,
*Declare yourself for him in the presence of men, and
*Do not be afraid.

Mons Frank

Corpus Christi. The Feast of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ 14 June 2020

Some ages burn books. Some ages destroy cities; to build their city. We seem to be entering an age of pulling down statues. We then spend fortunes creating, if possible, the burnt books, excavating the buried cities and rescuing the statues…in many cases to try to recover the knowledge so burnt, buried or smashed.

Our Church takes another path. Liturgically, we are in the midst of a Triduum celebrating Trinity, Communion, and, with the Sacred Heart on Friday, the true humanity of Jesus. All relate back to Pentecost and the inauguration of these feasts spans over 1500 years. All build on the life experiences of people trying to ponder anew, or for the first time, what the gift of Pentecost meant. You may say we are slow learners. The formulation of the doctrine of the Trinity took nearly three hundred years of, sometimes, bitter debate. We made it eventually. God showed patience in that debate as with many others. Slowly we reflected and passed on insights to the next generation; remembering the trials and battles, trying not to forget what had been handed on, be it truth or falsehood until the truth was hammered out.

All this is towards asking you to read the second reading for this Sunday, 1 Corinthians 10:16-17.

Jean, my next-door neighbour some 80 metres away, is fast approaching her tenth decade. She was still driving to the service station, for milk and the paper and to St KiIlians Church, just around the corner, until Covid-19 grounded her. We nodded for some years, waved, and now talk over the front fence, occasionally. The other day she bailed me up and we had a serious conversation…”I am really missing Mass, I am missing my friends. We have good chats at Mass. It is OK to speak in the Church isn’t it?” And so we chatted. “I am really missing Mass”.

It took nearly 1000 years for Thomas Aquinas to be asked to write the Mass for this new Feast of Corpus Christi. Clergy and people had become a little lax. A new liturgy was created, processions were introduced, and the true meaning of the Gift of Communion was reinforced and clarified. In a rather local way, Jean provided me with a valid insight to what Paul wrote about 2000 years ago.

“…though there are many of us, we form a single body because we all have a share in this one loaf.”

We hope Communion can soon be returned to all our people!

Mons Frank

The Feast of the Most Holy Trinity - 7 June 2020

The photo shot of the U.S. President standing outside St John’s Church in Washington has provoked a huge reaction at home and abroad…but it might just serve as a useful backdrop to this week’s reflection for all.

The Bible for Christians contains the revealed words of God. Remember Paul’s injunction to Timothy…”all Scripture is inspired by God.” The section in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 also reminds us that Scripture can be used “for teaching, for refuting error, for guiding people’s lives.”

 So, what sort of God was being proclaim by the above action?

We proclaim truths about the God we believe in and worship in a very robust way today. 

For a start, we believe, as Moses discovered, that the Lord our God is “a God of tenderness and compassion”. Would this headstrong people accept that truth for imitation; then we might be a people “slow to anger, rich in kindness and faithfulness”, and our world would become a better place.

We may not be able to “greet one another with the holy kiss” at this moment; covid-19 has put a temporary halt to that. Nonetheless, we believe that the God of love and peace “is with us” and urges us to “be united; live in peace”.

And if that is not enough to keep us pondering, then the Gospel today reminds us that “God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son”. Surely not the action of a dictator, or of many leaders in our world at the moment. God protect Hong Kong!

Today is a good time to reflect on our own personal image of God and, if necessary, to revise it in the light of the scripture. We cannot ignore the plight of people in the world. Our ancestors, at times, like Moses’ people as indeed ourselves, have acted like headstrong people. We have a different God to that proclaimed by many in power. Real power is not from the gun but is given and received in lovingly working for truth and justice.

Happy revisiting the Trinitarian God this weekend.

Mons Frank

Pentecost Sunday Year A 31 May 2020

Fear dominated the evening of the “first day of the week”. Fifty days later, a similar gathering, maybe even in the same room, is against the background of one of the three great pilgrimage events in Israel. The comforting ritual embedded in the consciousness of the people is about to be given enhanced meaning…the panic of “Are we next?” “Will they do to us what they did to him?” “Where did He go?” “What did the months of journey really mean?” All gives way to a joyous proclamation of “the marvels of God”.

Our slow release from confinement with the associated concerns and fears about this present, but in many ways unknown, virus is a little like the disciples’ journey over those fifty days. For many, a time of bewilderment. For others, the inability to mourn the death of a loved one, to visit the sick or dying relative, or to hold the new grandchild, has had a huge impact. To wake, up day by day, separated from our neighbours, friends and family, into a world filled with a seemingly spiral of violence and indifference to the suffering of people is a challenge to process and make sense of. In a world view, not much different to waking up in the tumultuous times of Roman domination, particularly when there were constant elements trying to overthrow such imposition.

We need Pentecost again!
There are all sorts of service to be done!
Let us renew our understanding of “the particular way in which the Spirit is given to each person”, particularly…to ME!

Let ME be an agent of that same Spirit to renew the face of the Earth.

 

P.S. John Joseph Therry remained in Sydney for 40 plus years roaming around the cast colony and Phillip Conolly was sent to Tasmania to minister in those initial awful days.


Mons Frank

Fourth Sunday of Easter Year A 3 May 2020

These past few days have seen a number of opinions surface on the occasion of the 250th anniversary of the first recorded sighting of the east coast of Australia. As usual, people have different takes on that event. TV coverage might have helped, depending on who directed the editing. What is significant for Catholics is that today, May 3, 2020, is the 200th anniversary of the arrival of the first approved (by the government) Catholic Priests into the Crown Colony called NSW.  

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Third Sunday of Easter Year A - 26 April 2020

“But something prevented them from recognising him.”

This line struck a chord with me this year…It is comforting to know that two of the “disciples”, amongst the many people who had witnessed “the things that have been happening there these last few days”, could not recognise Jesus. In a sense, we should not be surprised. Till that day, no one in the world had experience of dealing with a resurrected person. So, let us not be too harsh with them; nor perhaps with ourselves or with our friends who do not share the fullness of faith.

What it does raise, and particularly in this period of lockdown when many people of all faiths are unable to gather for community worship, is whose responsibility is it to “start with Moses and going through all the prophets he explained to them the passages thought the scriptures that were about himself”.

Some time ago, way back in the early sixties, the Vatican Council called the leaders of the Church to work and change existing structures to enable the people to become “full, active and conscious participants” in the action of the Liturgy. Many saw that statement more broadly. That cry has been taken up in all sections of the Catholic world but has been resisted by some powerful embedded powerbrokers within the Corpus Christi.

 

The current shutdown of gathering and worship-related spaces with the blossoming of online and virtual services is highlighting the question of what to do when the officials can’t be present or are not permitted to be present.
The headline in the Australian today has a message for us…”on this DIY day of remembrance.” It implies that DIY is not completely satisfactory, nor should it be permanent.

What will emerge in the future is anybody’s guess. The disciples on their road journey discovered that they had responsibility to discover what had really happened in Jerusalem and that they had to tell others about the Good News. They also had to understand their duty to break bread with others in remembrance of Him with, or without, the Temple.

And all this is our challenge today as it was for the early and subsequent eras of the Church. But we do it so that we today can continue in the words of Peter, “Through him you now have faith in God who raised Jesus from the dead and gave him glory for that very reason – so that you would have faith and hope in God.”

Mons Frank