Second Sunday in Ordinary Time - 17 January 2021

“What do you want? ” or, as one translation uses, “What are you looking for?”

What are you looking for is an apt question of many at the moment. We in the border bubble need clarification on lots of travel issues. Recent VCE graduates are trying to gather their thoughts after receiving their scores and make initial decisions. Many are wondering about their housing situations, particularly location. Just what is going on in all our lives. Covid-19 is forcing decisions upon us as few forces have in recent years.

Then there is another area of life…its purpose, its point.

This has troubled people down the ages and today we read of many people from different backgrounds and from different ages all caught up in that process, “What are you looking for?”

The readings deal with an initial response…

                “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening” or “Come and see!” but also an implication of answering the call, “Your body, you know, is the temple of the Holy Spirit”.

Once we put our shoulder to the plough there is no turning back. More questions will come our way. Some we might manage on our own. Others will need the assistance of an Eli, or John, or an Andrew.

Last week we were urged to have a listening ear. This week our mantra is “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening”.

Things will change if we accept the call from God, however we hear it.

Mons Frank

The Baptism of the Lord - 10 January 2021

The See, Judge, Act methodology so favoured by the Cardijn inspired movements seems to be making a comeback in many circles of influence. Many note that it seems to underpin the approach of the current Pope in much of his writings. Austen Ivereigh returns to that theme in his co-authored new book ‘Let us dream: The Path to a Better World’. The word “Listen” shouts out at us in the reading from Isaiah today, e.g. “Listen, listen to me”.

It struck a chord for I recently read the suggestion (for a new year resolution) that we should practise “listen, talk, reach out” in our daily lives.

Isaiah further adds today:

            “Pay attention, come to me; listen, and your soul will live.”

The disturbing events of the past week, shutdowns, lockdowns in Australia, 1000 deaths on Saturday in the U.K, invasions of the Capital in USA, mass arrests in Hong Kong are but a few of the happenings in our world.

How do we tackle such a mess?

One suggestion today is that we come to appreciate our own Baptism more and more and act accordingly. That seems a reasonable idea but …?

We note that Jesus went off to the desert to ponder after his experience of the gift of the Holy Spirit at the hands of John…and such experiences did not spare him trials and suffering, but he triumphed. Is that sufficient encouragement for us?

 Again, Isaiah reminds us today that “my thoughts are not your thoughts, my ways not your ways”.

Sometimes we need a method to harness our activities.

There is a desire amongst Christians to act…but three Hail Marys is not necessarily the only way, or the best way.

It appears that the Latin American Church helped form the current Pope in the ‘See…listen, Judge…talk, Act…reach out’ method to help the process of conversion to the intent of the Gospel; it may help us do likewise.

Mons Frank

The Epiphany of the Lord - 3 January 2021

Well…not too many bangs to welcome 2021, many whimpers and in our border towns much confusion, many delays, and the returning holiday makers then faced seemingly compulsory tests even if their travels did not take them within 100 kms of the hot spots.

At least the Magi received their message in a dream…

Herod did not know they had left. Our modern day “Herods” make sure the world hears but can’t assume, let alone be assured, that we listen and act.

Fascinating that the birth of the child, destined to preach Good News provokes hostility before he can even walk!

Isaiah had spoken about the one to come. He had urged people to “lift up your eyes and look round”, an ancient suggestion translated in our times by the injunction to “read the signs of the times”. It seems that the Magi, representatives of the “pagan nations”, were more astute than the representatives of the chosen people.

Nonetheless, and in spite of all the difficulties, the harassment of the people, the murder of the baby boys, the fleeing into Egypt …………

   *The quest for truth received a definitive and extraordinary thrust

   *The spirit of openness to all people was announced

   *And there is in the written record a refusal to paper over the cracks in the days ahead to effect cheap    

No wonder the Magi came armed with gifts! 

So, let’s begin our journey together for another wonderful year.

By the way, what gifts are you going to carry in your travel bag this year?

Mons Frank

Sunday 27 December 2020 The Feast of the Holy Family

Many reflections on radio, read on TV and written in the newspapers over this Christmas period, seem caught between trying to reconcile the Covid Christmas economy with the very obvious independent desire to celebrate Christmas with family; even hardnosed commentators and savvy politicians recognised that this Christmas was more important than the Boxing Day sales.

We must be home for Christmas.

Most in Australia were able to make it. Some were caught up in the mini outbreaks of Covid here. Overseas it was much more destructive on family gatherings. That sense of conflict and personal suffering around the Christmas season 2020, might make us remember that similar pain existed for the family of Nazareth; made to travel by the Roman occupying power and very difficult terrain which, even today the hardy walker can traverse, or if she or he decides, take a donkey as companion, hoping that the necessary service stations would be open. In their day they hoped for board and lodging. It was not always available.

Yes, conflict and personal suffering accompanied Joseph and Mary; even in the Temple; “a sword will pierce your own soul too” added to the prophesy that “this child is destined for the fall and for the rising of many in Israel”.

Fascinating, is it not, that when God’s love encounters human suffering there is conflict and suffering.

It can’t be avoided. It can be conquered.

Just as Mary and Joseph fulfilled the civil law and got counted, so too they presented their child to the Temple, brought joy to Simeon and Anna, and in a sense offered HOPE to the world

In our families, this year especially, whilst we honour our civil obligations, let us remember the God who loves us, the Son who gave his life for us, and the Spirit present in us through our Baptism and Confirmation. Honouring those realities will enable each of us to have truly happy and holy families.

Let’s bring a touch of peace to our New Year gatherings.

Mons Frank

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


First Sunday of Advent 28 November 2020

Liturgical beginnings…yet again!

The word ‘thanks’ from Our New Testament reading this Sunday, may well capture our attention as the calendar and the tinsel, trees and lights are heralding the approach of Christmas day. Christmas became a focal cry for our leaders…Let’s be free of virus and be able to travel to family for Christmas. Buckets of money flung far and wide to cover the memories of Covid-19 enforced lockdowns, lack of work, lack of traditional freedoms, lack of open places of worship. Bans on our goods; institutions found to have clay feet and people even in high places still behaving badly. Sadly, evidence, yet again, of corruption across all sectors of our society. Some might suggest that it even feels like a persecution; if so, feel quite at home with chapter 13 of Mark.

Scholars sometime describe this section of Mark as his Apocalyptic section. He uses the literary form, common in his day, to send an encouraging word to the new Christians of his community who have undergone suffering for the name of Jesus…and warns them, there is more to come! John, in his book of Revelation, expounds this theme in much more graphic and symbolic language.

 But there is HOPE.

 Paul begins today with the words “I never stop thanking God for all the graces….” 

 +Perhaps we, this week, could begin our new year by making a list of the “graces” we, our family, our friends, even our Church and country, have received these past months. 

 +Perhaps too, we may say thanks that “Lord, you are our Father; we the clay, you the potter”.

 + Mark urges us to have total confidence in the Plan of God. We do our bit by being faithful door keepers who STAY AWAKE.

Our personal Liturgical, let alone civic, Calendar year will close; the sufferings we endure will, like those of Jesus, end in glory. After all, His kingdom is not of this world, but is discovered within each of us. Being vigilant, being on our guard, being awake will enable us to enjoy the fruits of the Kingdom.

Welcome to beginning again. 


Mons Frank

P.S. Thanks for your encouragement for these reflections this past year.


Feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe 22 November 2020

The word ‘King’ in the Concise Oxford Dictionary is nearly given a column of explanation. Much of what is offered could be applied to Princes, Premiers, Prime Ministers, even Presidents. It could also be applied to Priests, Bishops, Cardinals and Popes. Further, parents, mothers and fathers could find words in that column to help them be ‘Kings and Queens’ in their own families.

Kings seem to be disappearing. Those who remain have had their powers clipped. Sometimes despots, tyrants and dictators replace them in what they camouflage as progressive moves. Temptations then arrive, even for the benign holder of the office; to extend occupancy for life or to seek immunity from prosecution for their misdeeds.

As well as build a Swiss Bank Account.

Whatever the title, the initial charge for the holder of such office was to safeguard their people and to be the final arbiter of disputes.

The vision prayed in the preface of today’s Mass:

  •  a kingdom of truth and life 
  • a kingdom of holiness and grace 
  •  a kingdom of justice, love and peace, 

was spelt out over the centuries, and happily we number many Kings and Queens of all orders amongst the Saints. Added to that charter is the statement in today’s Gospel, “…in so far as you did to one of the least of these brothers (“Tutti Fratelli”) of mine, you did it to me.” All, from the least to the highest, all of us in our kingly sphere will be judged by the same rule, be we of the ten or one talent recipient.

We look over our extraordinary Covid impacted year. Not all can return to the community celebration this Sunday, but we all can, in the privacy of our heart, commit ourselves to the ideals of the Kingdom as proclaimed by Jesus. We then set about the building of that state. 

What building block have you, have I, contributed to the cause this past year? 

Offer the response to our King this weekend.

Mons Frank 

P.S. Thanks for your encouragement for these reflections this past year.


Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time 15 November 2020

The end is nigh!

I am not referring to a successful conquering of the coronavirus in Victoria (fifteen days of no deaths and no recorded cases is worthy of mention) nor to the activities in the USA. Nor that there be but forty days to Christmas.

Next Sunday, celebrated as the Feast of Christ the King, is the final Sunday of our current Liturgical Year. The scripture for these last two Sundays has a focus on “the end” or, better still, the immediate preparation to meet our God face to face. Such is the circle of our Liturgical life. 

We look at “the end” through rather different spectacles this year. None of us has lived through the differing circumstances that have changed our normal lifestyles and that are leading us to what is being called “Covid -normal”.

Whatever, the principle message remains. We are all given gifts. Some, it seems, more. We are asked to use these gifts to enrich our community, to practise the Beatitudes or, as is becoming more popular today, to live the prayer of St Francis of Assisi; “Where there is hatred, let me sow love” is a good place to start in our current broken world.

Gifts are given to help us grow, not to be hidden away. False humility tends to bury the gifts; an insult to the giver and a sad commentary on the receiver.

The gift of Jesus to the world was indeed one of many talents offered to us in the past 2000 years. Many have returned that gift handsomely. Sadly, some have buried that gift; indeed an insult. 

What gift will we return to the Master at the end of this year’s trading? 

Let’s sweep out our house this week and make sure we have a worthy gift to return to our gift giver next Sunday.

Mons Frank