Pentecost Sunday   Year B 20 May 2018

“Truth is the foundation of all knowledge and the cement of all societies” (John Dryden).

The current Royal Commission into the provision of financial services seems, at times, a little déjà vu. So many issues are arising bearing similar traits of the previous investigation.

Whether deliberate or not,

Whether careless or ignorant,

Whether following bad advice, legal and other,

Whether acting on age old precedent or being simply arrogant, the surface vibes indicate a great disregard for the truth and a high handedness that baffles the average Pub Test. Truth has run a distant second.

It would appear that the ultimate gift of Jesus before he offered his life for us was intended to provide the world with assistance to combat the evidence discovered in his living with us: that we humans have a certain waywardness with being truthful and in our handling of the truth.

His gift, “But when the Spirit of Truth comes, He will lead you to the complete truth”, was important for them, at that moment. After all, within hours of this exchange, those memorable words of Pilate were uttered and still bounce around the halls of power, be they Parliament, Councils, Sporting Clubs, Police and Church. Ask the Chilean Bishops for their reflection on their briefing the Pope.

“Truth. What is truth?”

In these changing and, indeed, confusing times, the getting to the truth of the situations that confront us, demand a commitment to the truth. Thus, it is good to remember the gift that has been offered to us.

May this Pentecost embolden each one of us to strive to be women and men who value truth and seek always to practise truth.

Mons Frank.

The Ascension of the Lord: Seventh Sunday of Easter Year B 13 May 2018

 

Mother’s Day

Most of us could not tell a Mother when ‘they’ invented Mother’s Day. And whether or not ‘they’ intended the day to be commercialised, but they are Mothers!

We do know that from earliest times, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit was celebrated and remembered.

Likewise, most of us don’t know when the Church decided to have a special feast to honour the Ascension of Jesus, but we know that Jesus is not here in the flesh. And he did say on more than one occasion “I am going away”. So why do we, today, recall the leaving of Jesus in his earthly body.

One answer may be to enrich the Feast of Pentecost.

Another may be…we just don’t know.

Another may be that we need to be reminded that the ascended Jesus is not absent.

Another might be that ‘His absence’ reinforces the truth that each one of us has a mission to carry on his work. Hence the injunction “Go out to the whole world.”

Whatever the answer might be, notice in Mark that, the injunction, or command was to go to “all creation”. Have we stopped to consider that all creation might be a bit wider than the human race? Paul spoke about all creation groaning and waiting for the effect of the Good News. What he exactly meant 2000 years ago we don’t quite know, but I suspect he would be delighted to participate in the current chats about ecology.

We know that God created all and declared what had been done to be good. We also know that the scripture declaring humans to “subdue the earth” has been rather one way. Redressing the balance and getting theology and interpretation correct is attracting a tremendous amount of attention from the Popes to the pulpit.

The Ascension can suggest that with all our faults and shortcomings, Jesus felt confident that he had left the continuing challenge of pronouncing the Good News in capable hands.

It took many centuries to invent Mother’s Day (and happy regards to all our mothers and those that mother). It may take a few more years to bring to birth the complete Good News, but we keep trying.

Don’t let Him down.

Mons Frank

Sixth Sunday of Easter  Year B  5 May 2018

“The truth I have now come to realise” says Peter to Cornelius and his friends called ‘listeners’. Later in the account we have received, (I am sure our current Pope will highlight that word this weekend) “is that God does not have favourites.” I think further reading of the Acts of the Apostles will indicate that there are many degrees of realisation in Peter’s story, and indeed in our own!

Coming to grips with the gift that Jesus reminds us of in today’s Gospel, “I call you friends” is indeed a lifetime’s work. Being a Godfriend person will mean that as a parent we will love and care for our child; a builder will construct a house according to the specifications; the owner of a business will pay just wages and provide proper working conditions; the employee will provide engaging attitudes to the customer; the Priest will have time for all; and the Bishop will open his heart to all because, like Peter, he has come to realise “God does not have favourites.”

Coming to realise that we have been drawn into a new relationship with our God through no act of our own, nor obtained by any physical force, will take time. Knowing, too, that past or present failures will not be held against us is comforting. All we need to do is to repent and try again. We have been called, and are, friends.

If you can obtain a copy of Pope Francis’s recent letter to us ‘Gaudete et Exsultate’ (Rejoice and be Glad) do so. It will do all our heart good.

Mons Frank

Fifth Sunday of Easter Year B 29 April 2018

 

So, the dead wood is gathered and burnt!

There is an expectation that we produce fruit.

We are given a way to produce abundant fruit, but we must expect to be pruned.

The Royal Commission into the Financial Services Industry has revealed that even in that important sector of Australian society, the call of today’s readings “that we love one another” has not been heeded let alone, perhaps, ever received. So, the pruning shears are out and, perhaps, with vengeance!

For us who have received the other part of John’s instruction “that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ”, the call to produce fruit is paramount. Further we are reminded of what happened to the Vine. Given that truth, no wonder we celebrate in the land of the long white cloud the death of Peter Chanel who met an untimely death (in our human estimation) after a brief period of 40 or so months and a handful of Baptisms. Pruning take place in strange ways. Paul got a little taste of pruning this weekend in Jerusalem (having been the agent of pruning on an earlier occasion in the same city). He endured the complete prune later in Rome.

We journey into the new week. Perhaps the word can simply be this week: “Live in me and let me live in you.”

Mons Frank

Third Sunday of Easter   Year B 15 April 2018

The Secretary-General of the UN proclaimed today that a new Cold War has begun!  A great way to begin a new day in our world; contrasting with the sign of hope for the farming community (who in faith began seeding this week in our district) and happily were encouraged by a little rain this day.

War, hot or cold, with all the attendant commodities of lies and misinformation, once again staring us in the face.

The contrast with the Gospel greeting recorded in Luke for this week is startling.  After the almost Cold War for some months and certainly hot in the last days of his life; denounced with lies and innuendo, truth being obfuscated, the baying of the crowd destroying any attempt at justice and, having been crucified and buried, Jesus appears with the words “Peace be with you.” Given the scenario of those fateful days no wonder the disciples were “in a state of alarm and fright.” Peace in these circumstances…not likely, and I am sure that many feel the same today.

After the collective history of the Twentieth Century, one could be forgiven for asking “are our collective leaders dumb? Have they not listened to the experience of the suffering citizens, let alone watched the destruction in Syria?”

“You are witnesses to this.” Surely this applies, not just to the explanation of all that was written in the “Law of Moses, in the Prophets and in the Psalms”, but also to the gift of peace that is possible even after terrible, destructive and abusive behaviour that tore a community apart…peace is possible!

Many different attributes and many false adjectives are used about the God of the Christians and of His Son Jesus; we witness that the word ‘peace’ can be used of all members of the Trinity and that we are committed to establishing a kingdom of justice and peace on this earth. We have not always been successful; seeming failure, however, does not daunt us, peace can be a gift in the frightful circumstances after the resurrection. So, too, we can bring that gift to our homes, workplaces and communities today in our situations.

Mons Frank

Second Sunday of Easter  Year B 8 April 2018

We are called to accept the truth that Jesus is the saving revelation of God.

From the very beginning, most people have had to make the journey of belief out of darkness without the physical presence of the Risen Lord. Some throughout history have met the risen Lord in various ways and at various times. Occasionally, like Mary of Magdala, one sees, but needs a word to really see.  Others like the two disciples on the road to Emmaus recognise him in an action. The appearance gives way to faith.  Others like the beloved disciple, truly reflecting on what he had heard and witnessed “on the road”, accepted the evidence of the empty tomb. And then there are those like Thomas. Stories alone are not enough! “Unless…” he robustly proclaims, and for a short time becomes the hero of the supposedly scientific community.

Where are we on this road? With whom does my story align? What made me proclaim “My Lord and my God?”

For Thomas, the pivotal moment is, even after years of faithful journeying and presumably reasonable attentive listening, the sight of the wounds of Christ bought forth the great acclamation of faith.

One ponders…what and where are the wounds today that will turn the modern Thomas’s to faith?

In one of his short letters, Peter suggests another way forward for the believer to adopt:

“If you are a speaker, speak in words that seem to come from God.”

or

“If you are a helper, help as though every action was done on God’s orders.”

Wherever we are on this amazing journey of faith, let us end the Easter Octave with a robust “My Lord and my God” and add a couple of Alleluias for good measure!

 

Mons Frank

Easter Sunday 1 April 2018

What a Lent, let alone a Holy Week!

We are meant to be in the world, but not of the world. We often, at this time in the Liturgical Cycle, look back with varying degrees of horror or surprise on the events recalled and remembered in the days leading up to the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus.

Without trying too hard, and each of us can add to the list, it is hard to top a Lord Mayor being forced from office over workplace harassment, the thirty pieces of silver got a run in the activities of a number of politicians in Victoria’s Upper House. The wrangling over the Darling river and the disappearance of water reminded me of the washing of hands; the ongoing saga of the High Priest and Pilate being played out in a similar court; and just when we thought it could not get any worse, the betrayal of trust by the use of a small piece of sandpaper (originally tape , another lie ) ordered by HQ and carried out by the baby of the team!  It is better for one man to die for the people. And the week ended with a call on how forgiveness can be sought, offered, given and accepted. Almost looking for general absolution! The Lord God must have his hands in his face weeping again over Jerusalem!

Lent and Holy Week, their messages are still needed. Thank God it all leads up to Easter and its message of hope.

Is it not a clear message for us, for our people and our Church? Indeed, who will roll away the stone?

On the way to Easter, the first missionary, or as some call her, the first apostle, Mary Of Magdala, calls to all baptised to be active in looking for Jesus and to be willing to announce the Good News to the world. She was formed by being part of the band of women who attached themselves to Jesus. Perhaps it is time for a renewed effort to promote formation of the baptised even more strongly and to look carefully at the offerings made by YCS, YCW, Teams and similar movements and have these organisations active in all parishes. Sunday only will not do the job. As Paul says, “You must know how even a small amount of yeast is enough to leaven all the dough…”

We have lit the Easter candle, the Good News is recalled again and we take the blessed water to remember the mission given to us at our Baptism. Let us truly rejoice that Christ is risen and let us live his life in our world day by day.

Christ is risen, Christ is risen indeed!

Blessed Easter.

Mons Frank

Holy Week!

Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord       Year B           25 March 2018

The final week of contradiction.  On the one hand, loaded with extreme examples of man’s inhumanity to man; you name it, it can be found…lying, treachery, hypocrisy, abandonment, betrayal, desertion, extreme violence, jeering, abuse, indifference and murder.

The other side, at the Cross, the truth of Jesus’ identity is revealed…spoken by the perceived enemy, the Roman Centurion, and witnessed by a faithful few, mainly the women.

Against a seeming increasing resort amongst many civic and some Church leaders to act out of a ‘might is right’ position based on political, military or even trade power, we find revealed the way of redemptive suffering.

“The Son of Man came…to give his life as a ransom for many.”

The powers of darkness stalked the cross at 3.00 pm that day.

In hearing Jesus say, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” they not only missed his earlier words “Father, forgive them they know not what they do” but they misinterpreted his voice. Anguish, yes, but He was praying Psalm 22: “He did not hide his face from me but heard when I cried out to him.” The prayer was answered, again in contradiction.

Think again: Darkness over the whole land. Creation in mourning. The veil of the temple torn. Jesus, the New Way to the Father.

And the little or forgotten people whose instinctive acts of kindness and presence:

The offering of vinegar

The looking for Elijah

The Roman Centurion

The silent presence and witness of the women all point to the truth of the words proclaimed:

“In truth this man was a son of God.”

 

Have a wonderful and truly Holy Week

Mons Frank

Fifth Sunday of Lent Year B 18 March 2018

 

Articles and books appear frequently commenting upon the so called ‘Culture Wars’ waging in our society. ‘Changing the culture’ is another catch -all – phrase embracing footy clubs, work places, Parliament Houses and Churches as well as nearly all other institutions that, seemingly, are not performing! Even the culture of the family gets a run in certain outposts; there are those seeking to change all inherited deposits of faith that have underpinned human society for generations. In a sense, we have recorded for us in all readings today, the truth of the greatest culture war ever waged in human history.

” Deep within them I will implant my Law.”

The new Covenant seeks to change human behaviour, to offer a way to live together in peace.

“Anyone who loves his life loses it.”

When we fight for our entrenched ways, we end up tarnishing or losing what we have inherited at the least, and at the worse, losing totally ‘our’ way of acting. The culture clash of Christianity, with all the traditions it encounters, is demanding. For some foolishness, for other laughable, for those who accept the teaching and example of Jesus, liberating. Many who accept the gift do lose their lives, often in terrible circumstances, as indeed do many who reject the call similar to that of the Greeks. “Sir, we should like to see Jesus.”

When we try to bring justice in the workplace, respect in family life, to reduce violence in the community, and to promote an attitude of deep concern for our many neighbours, then we are grappling with the challenge to be the grain of wheat that falls to the ground. One grain will do very little whilst remaining on the shelf. Let us commit ourselves, yet again this Lent, to be buried in the soil so we can be part of the rich harvest.

Mons Frank

Fourth Sunday of Lent Year B 11 March 2018

 

“Two went to pray? O rather say

One went to brag, th’ other to pray:

One stands up close and treads on high,

Where th’ other dares not send his eye.

One nearer to God’s altar trod,

The other to the altar’s God.”

Richard Crashaw (1633- 1649)

We often speak about the journey of Lent referring to the passage of time e.g. 20 days done, 20 to go, or for the Catechumens in the RCIA programme, only two more Scrutinies before Baptism.  This week we meet Nicodemus. He is a Jew but not one of the ‘Jews’ in John’s Gospel. We meet him several times in the Gospel account as he struggles to fully accept the teaching and implication of throwing in his lot with Jesus. He never rejects Jesus, nor disputes his teaching but, and perhaps like many today (and in every age), his faith at this point does not quite match the criteria announced by Jesus. However, all is not lost. There are still chapters in the Gospel for Nicodemus and days in Lent for us.

Our journeys will be different.  Hopefully, not as disastrous as that of the chosen people related in brief in Reading One. Some can be as disastrous, and we read about them every day.

Paul reminds us that “God loved us with so much love…though dead through our sins, he brought us to life with Christ.”

He further reminds us in those mind-boggling words that “We are God’s work of art, created in Christ Jesus to live the good life as from the beginning he had meant us to live it”.

So, sinners we were never meant to be…nor to remain in that state.

This week let us take another step “to the altar’s God”

 

Mons Frank