Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time 05 February 2022

Abundance…

We are often bombarded with signs like “Buy in bulk and save” or, as my Tyre Shop advertises, “Buy three and get one free”. Really!

I am not running a competition for the most shameful example of dubious advertising.  However, I think that each of our readings today reminds us of the reaction of three people, Isaiah, Paul and Peter who, in different ways, met the God of abundance.

These men were gifted with an experience of the great God of love, in ways that you and I may not, as yet, have had. There is still time. It might be profitable to pause and recall an experience of that love. We all do have experiences; we are often reluctant to talk about them because, sometimes, we say like Peter, “I am a sinful person”. Remember, Peter was not making a moral judgement; rather he was in the tradition of Isaiah and other great prophets and Holy People, “I am a man of unclean lips.” Awe and wonder strike the human in the extreme presence of the Holy One.

We note, too, that the experience is accompanied by the Word, often a Word that not only has implications for the individual, but also for the whole of creation.

Isaiah – became the great voice and leader of the chosen people

Mary – became the mother of the Saviour

Peter – with all his bluster and omissions, became the leader of the Apostles

Paul – began the great mission to the Gentiles.

What about you and I?

We are reminded today to revisit our call. Maybe, we have said like Peter, “Leave me Lord”. Now is the time to revisit our prayer life, or to resume those acts of kindness. Or to take a punt and say yes, “Here I am, send me”. Yes, come to grips with that niggle that I have put on the back burner!

His abundance is real.

Mons Frank

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time 30 January 2022

Will we have to have an airlift to the West?

The Highway is cut. It may take ten days to have a temporary rail line rebuilt. Even the North is cut off from Adelaide…but Brisbane can supply Darwin. And all because of rain.

“…do the same here in your own countryside.”

The bird’s route is scarcely 35 kms from Capernaum to Nazareth taking in a small deviation to pass through Cana. But our country is our country and don’t you do anything for them, let alone others.

Rage is produced by the recall of the works of Elijah and Elisha. Sidonia did not belong. Syria was not our country; both people helped were Gentiles…but we are the chosen people. Being reminded of their own history, and by a local, “This is Joseph’s son, surely?”, provoked a rage and an intention to murder. Rushing back into our minds are the words of Simeon, “This child is destined to cause the fall and rise of many in Israel”.

What a beginning for Jesus!

And all he is really on about is to bring Good News.

One of those that fell and rose was Paul. The excerpt read today will be familiar to many. Read often at weddings, reflected often on Golden and other anniversaries, it is a song for all. Surely Jesus’ heart would have been moved when Paul produced this work. A work destined for all people and coming after Paul took the message to the Gentile world.

We can get locked up into our own country, suburb, town and state too easily.

The Gospel is much, much bigger than that.

In many ways that is the message of Pope Francis, “Don’t lock up the Good News”.

It is always hard to start again.

Nonetheless we have to “slip through the crowd” and find ways of announcing the Good News to our world. Read slowly the excerpt from First Corinthians 12: 31-13: 13 and start this week by saying “hullo” to someone near you.

Mons Frank

 

Third Sunday in ordinary time. 23-01-2022

Preamble:

Pope Francis has asked us to celebrate this Sunday each year as a “Sunday of the Word of God”. He reflects upon the Sunday Readings every time he celebrates the Angelus at midday in St Peter’s Square, generally on Sunday.

Today we begin the reading of Luke’s Gospel for Year C.

Scholars propose:

  • that the writer was Luke,
  • that the date of composition was approx. 80 CE,
  • that we ought to read Luke / Acts as a united statement,
  • that he wrote the Gospel to the existing Christian community,
  • that he intended to place the story of Jesus and that of the emerging Church in the context of the then known world history.

Such a task, I believe is ours…

Sunday Readings:

It was a very bold statement to link the grand tradition of Isaiah with his own mission in his own town! As we will see in coming weeks, his fine words bringing applause and admiration quickly turned to hostile actions once he began to apply the deep meeting of the texts to the everyday situation of the people, particularly the lonely, the lowly, and the lost. In some sense, Jesus was ‘doing’ an Ezra! He was helping people rediscover their inheritance as people of the Word, much like we have been trying to do since Vatican II. Check out, for example, 1 Peter 1:22-29… “and this word is the Good News that has been brought to you”.

Ultimately, Jesus was not acceptable to his own country because his mission extends beyond his own country. We are the inheritors of that approach and that is the path for us today. Uncomfortable, yes. Unfamiliar for most, yes.

Maybe this Covid time is the time for us, as it were, to visit the neighbour that we have ignored or been frightened of or because we just wished to be left alone.

Christianity is about community for the Word is alive and active.

Likewise, for us.02

Mons Frank

 

 

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time 16 January 2022

“There is a variety of gifts……….”

These words jumped out at me, as it were, ringing bells!

Gifts, says St Paul, we who are baptised and proclaim Jesus as Lord, possess many gifts given by the Holy Spirit. Do we recognise the gift or gifts that each of us has, and how do we use those gifts?

Australia has been the centre of interest all because a very gifted man has acted as if other people did not matter.

Paul continues in today’s reading to remind us all that our gifts have been distributed and given for the service of the community.

 Jesus possessed many gifts; his mother recognised this and it seems that occasionally she did ask (we really do not know how often she asked her Son to act … we do know that on one occasion her request to see Him brought the retort that “All who do the will of my father, they are my Mother and brothers and sisters” ) and note well that at Cana the request was for the good of the guests and to save the groom’s family from great embarrassment.

 Our much-feted tennis player does not seem to have had the wellbeing of our community at heart…even his mother has now commented upon that failing.

We are all gifted. Gifted we are in all sorts of different ways.

 As we begin the New Year, perhaps a good idea would be to take time and really identify the particular gifts that we possess from the Holy Spirit and then to use them for the wellbeing of the community.

St Peter wrote, 1 Pet 4:10, “Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you received.”

 We may have to rediscover just what gift or gifts we have received. That, in itself, is a worthy beginning for 2022.

Using the rediscovered gift or gifts for the wellbeing of the community; that is Christian action.

 Mons Frank

 

The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord 9 January 2022

Do you remember:

·         parents going from the hospital to the Church before going to the farm?

·         the insistence on selecting a ‘Christian’ name for the child?

·         did you belong to a family that handed down a beautiful white robe to be used by all new children?

·         Baptism at 3.00pm each Sunday afternoon?

As things changed:

·         medicine and health care improved

·         Baptism became more a part of the Mass

·         candles and white stoles became the order of the day

·         parents urged to attend pre baptismal classes (with Godparents)

·         River and Marley and the like took over from Mary and James.

And then…well, I think I will let the children make up their own minds when they grow up.

Nonetheless, for many, Baptism is still a wonderful occasion, even in these troubled Covid times!

What, perhaps, is missing is that general feeling of expectancy amongst the community about the need for Baptism.

There had been many occasions in the long history when a Prophet had called for a sign of repentance and renewal sealed by a ritual of washing in the Jordan. People “flocked to John”. They were looking for more than just a ritual sign; and they got more than they bargained for. “You are my Son the Beloved.”

And for us, there is more than we anticipated in our personal Baptism.

There is the call:

·         to leave the past behind

·         to give ourselves over to a prayerful life

·         to accept our role in renewing the face of the earth

·         to return to a loving God, our love

·         to, like Isaiah, “console my people, console them”.

 

This is a grand feast to remember our own Baptism (when, where, and who were our Godparents)

and to recommit ourselves “to live good and religious lives here in this present world”.

Let us take a step in that direction this Feast day.

Mons Frank

Christmas 2021

“Listen to me, you who pursue integrity,

Who see k the Lord?

Consider the rock you were hewn from

The quarry from which you were cut.” (Isaiah 51:1)

“No one to be lost and everyone to change their ways.” (2 Peter 3:9)

This is my 59th attempt to say something meaningful on the feast of Christmas. A chance occurrence during the week led to these thoughts which are based principally upon the examination of what we can glean from the two women, Mary and Elizabeth, and the two men, Joseph and Zechariah.

 

Many think we have been hard done by during the pandemic; lock ups, face masks, QR codes, signups, quarantine, isolation and, of course, being vaccinated.

Sadly, this has led to arguments, loss of jobs, breakups, and lack of peace. In a sense this is the rock that we have been hewn from, let alone the quarry from which we were cut in recent times.

Some think all was meek and mild when John and Jesus were born and lived. Not so. Consider that their country was occupied by the Romans. The Romans ruled harshly, punished severely. Jews has no rights. In 4 BCE Quinctilius Varus crucified 2000 rebels. There were several other mass crucifixions

between 4 BCE and the fall of Jerusalem in 70 CE. The massacre of the innocents, let alone the “head on the dish”, complement the truth that the road from Jerusalem to Jericho was the place to fall amongst thieves. They were hewn from very hard rock and cut in a very rugged quarry. It was into such an environment that the baby Jesus came.

 

He came amidst turmoil in the respective families. Joseph had to deal with the common expectations of his community…send her away. Zechariah was world wise and blunt. He laughed at the idea that Elizabeth could conceive. Joseph accepted the instruction and wore the expected humiliation from his community. Zechariah was struck dumb, and the last laugh was on him. But he changed.

One babe was the fulfilment of the promise, the other the proclaimer…No major army. No great Naval power. The babe was to be the source of salvation and the source of peace. Both gave their lives, horribly treated that we might have life and have it to the full.

 

The truth was that, as Peter wrote, “No one to be lost. Everyone to change their ways.”

We have been battling to accept this instruction for 2000 years. Some generations have made more progress, many have rejected the invitation.

This is our time.

Do we stand with Jesus and work for peace; civil and religious? Or do we continue to do our own thing?

May the message of the angels resonate in each and every heart this 2021.

“Glory to God in the highest heaven. And peace to people who enjoy his favour.”

Mons Frank

Third Sunday of Advent 12 December 2021

Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice.

This Sunday the mood of the Liturgy moves to calling us to remember the first coming of Jesus. It asks us to recall the many gifts our world received following the entry into our lives of the presence and work of Jesus.

We labour under the difficulty of 2000 years of Christian inheritance and the centuries of reflection and practise. The stark contrast proclaimed by Jesus was literally revolutionary to the first generations of those who committed to “The Way”. So much in our lives today, accepted more or less by all, was not the reality of the average woman or man in 30 CE.

To tell people to rejoice whilst living under the Roman yoke is perhaps akin to asking the Uighurs to be happy in their many re-education camps in China. If the tummy can stand it, a read of ‘Damascus’ by Christos Tsiolkas, though a novel, will certainly help to understand the roughness of life under the Roman yoke.

So, we have had the experience of the Covid yoke, and it is not finished.

Against that experience and faced with the call to “Rejoice” at the celebration of the gift of Jesus, the Gospel imperative today:

-Two tunics…share

-Something to eat…share

-Exact no more than your rate

-No intimidation

-No extortion

-Be content with your pay.

 

We might add:

-don’t growl too much about masks

-use the QR code

-accept restrictions for the wellbeing of our community

-respect Covid Marshalls (with or without the Tin Star) …

And regularly give thanks for this wonderful country we live in!

Add an extra prayer this week and an act of charity, for those who do not enjoy our gifts…that may assist us to receive the peace of God.

 

Mons Frank

 

Second Sunday of Advent 5 December 2021

Sitting at table with some friends at the local, I overheard the couples on the next table debating the current state of affairs. It was not difficult to hear. Suddenly an irruption, “Once I would have been arrested for coming into this place with a face mask on, now I get arrested if I don’t wear one”.

Indeed … we have come to expect the unexpected!

Advent is galloping, “expect the unexpected”.

With all his knowledge of the history of prophets in Israel and even though he was languishing in jail, John the Baptist could not have imagined his final minutes. Beheaded in the middle of a banquet! Many thought that was the end of the story. His people had to learn to expect the unexpected when you are about God’s work.

Earlier the Prophet Baruch was trying to assist his people to “take off your dress of sorrow and distress” (a little like many leaders are asking of us today. …go out …make the retail registers ring). He asked his people to “wrap the cloak of the integrity of God around you”. Not quite the message many wanted to hear. Rather they hoped to “get rid of the enemies, crush them, may our army triumph”!

But, the prophet insists, “Peace through integrity, and honour through devotedness.” Yet again, not quite the message expected!

And to emphasise the message, “for God will guide Israel in joy by the light of his glory with his mercy and integrity for escort”.

We have had many calls during these two Sundays for integrity… not perhaps the message expected or hoped for by our civic or ecclesial community in the lead up to Christmas 2021…but, maybe, it is the real message for us.

Advent wreaths…yes

Christmas trees…yes

Cribs…yes…

but personal integrity will resolve many local and community questions quicker than Royal Commissions, judicial enquiries, and other forms of investigation. And cheaper too!

This Advent, this call is perhaps unexpected, but very appropriate.

We all need to be people of integrity.

People of integrity will certainly “prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths and

enable people to see the salvation of our God.”

Mons Frank

First Sunday of Advent 28 November 2021

We begin again. Cardinal Cardijn often reminded his listeners that each day we begin again. In one sense, that is a fitting call to arms for Advent 2021. Not burdened by the past (and the recent past has rested heavily upon most of us) but, once again, a little like St Paul’s statement, we “run”, and Advent may be the time to set the goalposts for this coming year.

I am having more technology difficulties My printer is not heeding messages from other devices to “run”. After six years it says it is connected to the network (Baptism) but is not receiving messages. In a sense, it occurred to me that it is not doing the appropriate things (reading the scriptures, saying prayers, attending to the liturgy, being kind to people). My recent technician, after 45 minutes of intense activity, declared…solemnly…it’s DEAD. And that sparked a train of thought.

So, where do I begin again?

The Advent season is time to prepare, yet again, for news of great joy…and don’t we need it! Try filling out the forms to visit interstate.

So, for the next few weeks I will try to find a few points in the Sunday Liturgy that might help spark new connections with the server above all servers.

So…

Consider the line in Reading One …

“…who shall practise honesty and integrity in the land?”

Another translation…

“…who will do what is just and upright in the country?” And we might add, in Parliament, Courts, Church and indeed as leader of the Australian Cricket team!

What a scrutiny Pat Cummins has been put through! Is it tougher for him as being a Catholic (number two in almost 150 years)?

Let’s ponder “honesty and integrity” or “just and upright” as we start our new Liturgical Year this Advent.

It may mean that we need to revise our attitudes to failure…God is merciful.

It may mean that the huge demands by some for all to be perfect according to the Google standards have not properly understood the injunction of Jesus “be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect”.

It may mean that…let us all try to fill that gap.

Welcome to Advent.

Mons Frank.

Feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe 21 November 2021

“A kingdom of truth and life,

A kingdom of holiness and grace

A kingdom of justice, love and peace.”

So, we pray in the Liturgy for this Sunday.

Our State, Victoria, was released from all major restrictions at 11.59 on Thursday 17 November. Some called it “freedom” day. The concept of responsibility or accountability or care for others did not rate a mention; “You are now free to have a drink standing up!” shouted the headlines. What freedom! What joy!

Locked up when we had 8 Delta cases per day, freed when we are 90% double vaccinated with still 1000 cases a day. Well, we may recall Pilate’s statement to Jesus at the conclusion to today’s Gospel (sadly, not included in the reading) “What is truth?”

Truth

So important to human living, so abused in so many circles today and, indeed, often in the long history of humankind. One of the chief objectives of the coming of Jesus was, “I came into the world for this: to bear witness to the truth”.

If that witness was needed in Jesus’ time, so, too, sadly today. We have been often so slow to follow his example. Of course, we note, telling the truth has led many to a similar place of execution.

Truth has consequences. Glossing over or not revealing the full truth, never resolves the need for truth. Ask the recently resigned Australian Cricket Captain, ask the Chinese Leadership the whereabouts of their leading ladies tennis player, ask Church leadership about sexual abuse cases.

Truth

As we worship this weekend and reflect on the opportunities of the past year, let us endeavour to remember some special occasions these past months, that have enabled us to see the truth of Jesus’ proclamation just a little bit clearer, to remember when it has cost to speak truthfully or, sadly, when I faltered and remained silent. We rejoice at the positive and ask forgiveness for the failure, but we lift ourselves up again and pledge anew to follow he who is the way, the TRUTH, and the Life…

God’s reign according to Jesus is the ultimate truth and authority for the world.

 

Mons Frank