Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time   Year C  14 July 2019

We encounter the Samaritans for the third time in as many weeks. Coincidence or perhaps deliberate by whoever organised the liturgical readings.

Why?

Some might say that we could enshrine, “oh, be a Good Samaritan” into our language. There is a recent book named, I think, ‘The Political Samaritan’ which seeks to uncover how this story has influenced high places over the years. And not only high places.

Our current Pope is seeking to make our Church more missionary, in outlook and in fact. Not necessarily asking us to rush off to distant places and stand in the village square to immediately ram down the locals throats the gift of Jesus, but to open eyes to our current reality and ask “Why is that person lying on the road and no one is helping?”. One great truth of the parable is that most of the listeners in the story would not have criticised the Levite or the Priest. They were obeying the Law. They were protecting their status, and their faith. When the lawyer responded with the teaching, “You must Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind” let alone, “and your neighbour as yourself”, the penny did not drop. Samaritans were not neighbours.

Jesus is in effect saying …”Look at your Laws.” And he may be well saying the same to us today: canonically and civilly!

The lawyer moved a little and replied, “The one who took pity on him”. But the Samaritan “was moved with compassion”.  Conversion has begun but is not completed.

So for ourselves.  Let us all be “Good Samaritans”. Not simply because the concept is good. But because people are more important than laws, actions speak louder than words, and pity may bring bandages, but compassion will overcome the evil that reduces the wounded person to an inconvenient object.

Be a true “Good Samaritan”.

Mons Frank

Feast of Corpus Christi Year C 23 June 2019

One feature of the Notre Dame fire reporting was the sensitive details of the Priest and his helpers entering the burning building to remove the Blessed Sacrament from the Tabernacle. That action was comforting to many, appreciated, and seemingly not the subject of ridicule. In the recent past, the same Cathedral had its high altar profaned by the revolutionaries who enthroned the goddess of reason on that same altar that so often held the Sacrament in that place for the life of the world.

That same world, since the time of the Last Supper, has asked many questions about the Body and Blood of Christ. Even the Scripture records some of the doubts. It is comforting in these days to see respect offered to that action in Paris. In one sense, it highlights the position of Paul as stated in today’s Scripture, “This is what I received from the Lord, and in turn passed on to you”.

We reserve the Eucharist so that it can be passed on to those who cannot participate in the consecrating action.

Paul, the great Paul, was like each of us. We inherit a tradition that has been passed on. Only twelve were present on that fateful night; all since have been on the receiving end and charged with the responsibility to pass it on.

This gift is an extraordinary gift. Taking a point from today’s Gospel, it is a gift of abundance, offered freely to saints and sinners, to the very poor and rich, all are one and the same before the Host. It can be, and is, offered in lonely places, on battle fields, in outback humble churches, in large magnificent Cathedrals. It is offered for the living and the dead, for health and wellbeing, for safety and deliverance.

It is mysterious.

It is also simple… “Take and eat. Take and drink!”

Like all his teaching, we have to ponder and pray, we have to respond to the invitation clothed with the appropriate wedding-feast garment.

Honed in the Jewish Passover ritual, today we participate in the New Covenant built on their tradition “to give thanks, to praise, to glorify, to honour, to exalt, to extoll and to bless”, he who wrought our salvation. This we do in service, in memory of him who came as one who serves.

“It is in giving that we receive”.  Nourished by his body and blood we move to our homes, workplaces and leisure spots to share our beliefs and to strive for justice and peace.

Mons Frank

Pentecost Sunday       Year C      9 June 2019

Heard this week on a talk-back session: “Three places you do not wish to go are Court, hospital or Church; unless you wish to be married or buried.”

I wonder what the Holy Spirit makes of that!

Some two thousand a years ago, an event happened in Jerusalem…one not merely recorded in Scripture but written about in other ways. For many individuals, life changed dramatically on that particular day which ended the Jewish feast of Shavuot. For seven weeks following Passover, the Jewish communities were celebrating their becoming God’s people following the celebration of their deliverance from Egypt on Passover. Jerusalem was thronging with pilgrims from all over the known world. It was time for the Spirit to act, and it did: “We hear them preaching in our own language about the marvels of God.”

And two thousand years later, some want us to do it all again in Latin!  But it is not simply about language.

In one sense it is about the marvels of God.

How often do we stop and really talk to one another about the marvels of God? A little like Louis Armstrong sang so well. It is about “the colours of the rainbow…the smiles on the faces of the people going by”. It is about the many ‘John Vaniers’ found in all parishes and communities making a difference.

The sequence has timely words for us today:

“If thou take thy grace away

Nothing pure in man will stay

All his good is turned to ill.”

Lots of grace is missing in our world today. Our age is experiencing deliberate attempts to displace the life of God and erase that memory from people. Historically, that attempt is not new; it’s been tried before. Our instant Google filled experience hinders our need to stop, pause, listen and experience the presence of the Other. There is more to life than to avoid Courts or hospitals. There is more to faith than being married or buried in a church.

Let us ask this Pentecost that “our wounds be healed, our strength renewed. And wash the stains of guilt away”

Indeed, in confident faith let us call loudly to the Holy Spirit to renew the face of the earth.

Mons Frank

Feast of the Ascension of the Lord   Year C   2 June 2019

All sorts of things have happened this past May: elections in India, Indonesia and Australia; the World Cup of Cricket began in England (where else?); the Pope, amongst other activities, visited his Diocesan Assembly gathered in his Cathedral without  Mitre or Crozier and later in the month he travelled to Romania; and two great men died, John Vanier and our fellow Australian Les Murray.

Many consider that Les Murray was, and remains to this date, our greatest poet. I cannot comment on that and I have not read many of his works. Shame.

John Vanier changed the attitude of our world and left behind over 150 communities providing real homes for those with profound disabilities.

Les was born, the only child, to fiercely proud dairy farmers in Nabiac, New South Wales. He lost his mother aged 13, was severely bullied at school and left the Free Kirk Presbyterians in his early twenties to embrace Catholicism. Forty years later, his father could not bring himself to mention it.

John was born, the fourth child of five, into a truly devout Catholic Family. His father lost a leg in the trenches in the First World War, served his Canadian people in all sorts of postings and became Governor General of Canada in 1959. John grew up in a household where his father went to Mass every day and spent 30 minutes in personal prayer.

Les Murray dedicated all his works “to the Glory of God”.

John Vanier reminded the world that “everybody is beautiful”.

One can ponder the tributes in days to come. Many call Vanier a saint, already! Others suggest Murray to be Australia’s greatest poet.  Read his poem. ‘Poetry and Religion’. Maybe a saint in many years to come.

These words are  in today’s reading from Ephesians:

“May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of Glory,

give you a spirit of wisdom and perception of what is revealed

To bring you to full knowledge of him.”

Both Les and John have done that.  From vastly different backgrounds with different talents, in different worlds. Both have ennobled we humans.

As we approach Pentecost may we be encouraged to use our gifts and talents to do likewise, with the help of the same Holy Spirit.

Mons Frank

Third Sunday of Easter   Year C   5 May 2019

Some say that John’s Gospel contains more symbolic scenes than Matthew, Mark or Luke’s. Determining that is a cold wet day activity, by the fire with a glass to concentrate the mind and body. Whatever that invitation, a close look at this Sunday’s Gospel could well occupy a cold day itself!

Consider the role of fire: denial by its warmth a few days ago, now the accompanying warmth and glow; a grand profession of love.

Consider floundering in the sea: professional fishermen, no catch, until Jesus appears.

Consider the invitation to bring some of the fish that they had caught.

We may respond in various ways, for example; What ‘fire’ in my life brings back memories of ‘denial’ and subsequent expression of ‘love’?

Or…how often have I tried to accomplish a task, floundered and forgot to ask for the help of Jesus?

Or…the oft expressed words ‘No presents’; a real party is when we all contribute.

Pondering this Gospel will lead to all sorts of conclusions and, perhaps, some new determination of action. It changed the life of Simon Peter in a great public act of forgiveness and healing. He would remember charcoal fires for the rest of his life. Its heat and light would add spice to his preaching and commitment.

We all flounder at times. Do we call upon the Word made flesh or simply pack our nets away and go out and do the same another day?

Whatever the symbols and all their meanings, this whole post-resurrection episode really emphasises the truth. “Without me you can do nothing.”

Try to deepen your personal relationship with the Resurrected Christ, Jesus of Nazareth this week.

Mons Frank

Second Sunday of Easter  Year C   28 April 2019

The assault in Sri Lanka on Easter Day was, and is, an assault on faith; and not just Christian faith. Like Christchurch; an attack whilst people are at their devotion and prayer. The assault upon Jesus, too, was an assault on devotion (“I have come to do the Father’s will”) and prayer (“into your hands I commit my spirit”). The forces of evil that attacked Jesus, ultimately because He offered people an alternative way of being and living, are still at work today for fundamentally the same reason. They do not like what we preach, despite our failings, nor our attempts to practise what Jesus demonstrated, “Love one another as I have loved you”.

For Thomas, the way to belief and change in his life came from the invitation to “Put your finger here; look, here are my hands. Give me your hand; put it into my side.” Perhaps for us today, we too need somehow to put our finger and our hand into the wounds of the Body of Christ that surrounds us.  We can’t be indifferent. The wounds are many. Nominate those in your area of influence. Be brave and thrust out your finger and hand.

The Resurrection story also has another incident that offers us hope. That initiative by the lake shore; when Jesus broke bread and fish at breakfast. Seizing the moment, He turned an otherwise simple gathering to one pregnant with meaning. We need to be alert for these quasi sacral moments. They are there and we can all act in a similar manner.

Our continued prayers for the victims of both atrocities.

Let’s find ways to support families affected in our neighbourhood.

Mons Frank

 

ACT-NSW Regional Newsletter April-May 2019

ACT-NSW April-May Newsletter

In This Issue…….

  • Message from the Regional Couple
  • Sydney Sector News – Denise and Michel El-Samra
  • Canberra Sector News – Sarah and Mark Stoove
  • The 80th. Anniversary of Teams – International Celebrations
  • Faye and Kevin Noonan – The Eurasian Zone Responsible couple
  • Regional Team Meeting – 10 March 2019
  • The Importance of Liturgy in Team Life

Fifth Sunday in Lent Year   Year C    7 April 2019

We have arrived at the Fifth Sunday in Lent. Time flies. Next Sunday is Palm Sunday and Holy Week begins! Where are we at in responding to the injunction “to pray, to fast and to give alms”? And, what was the call that tossed out that injunction: “be merciful O Lord for we have sinned.”

One is tempted to suggest that the basic call of Lent is summarised in those words taken from the Liturgy for Ash Wednesday. The human race crying out for mercy and reconciliation. As a race, we need some sign of forgiveness and the hope of reconciliation for all the terrible deeds we do to one another. At times, the seeming evil overwhelms the abundance of good deeds being done every day of the week.

Today we build upon the examples of triumph over evil given us during the Lenten Sundays.

Triumph over the temptations we all experience in various ways…week one.

The call to listen for the voice of the Lord amidst the strident and shrill voices of ‘Me-isms’…week two.

Week three asked us to look deeply “do we need to repent”?

Week four…Are you one of the Sons, or perhaps ambitious to be a genuine loving Father?

This Sunday, have we rocks in our hands…always…or are we prepared to look the other in the eye and offer hope?

These are all steps on the way to Reconciliation.

May we remember the words prayed in the Eucharistic Prayer for Reconciliation II: “when we ourselves had turned away from you on account of our sins, you brought us back to be reconciled, O Lord.” Today’s episode is surely one of the great moments of our human history: “Has no one condemned you? No one, Sir.”

Mercy and forgiveness, and a new life without sin.

May our Lent 2019 be the opportunity to do just that. There is still time to be reconciled and journey with the Universal Church in Holy Week.

Put your best foot forward this day!

Mons Frank

Fourth Sunday in Lent   Year C  31 March 2019 

‘Winners and Losers’

Sadly, the pages of our papers and even some segments of our TV News, summarise all the stories from politics to sport under the title of “Winners and Losers”. Whatever became of the statement “It is much better to have played the game, to have been part of the contest, than never to have played at all”?

Chapter 15 of Luke has three main parables; we lose the sheep, we lose the coin, we lose the sons; but redemption is at hand…

The introduction is important.

One group is seeking the company of Jesus to hear what he has to say. The other is complaining. Earlier, Luke reports that this same group “grumbled”. Later they “formed a deep grudge” against the teaching of Jesus. It appears that the teaching they were opposed to is that Jesus was offering hope, new life and welcome as members of the restored people who had listened to the call and teaching of the prophet to fundamentally those considered, by society, to be losers!

You can’t have losers in the Kingdom!

Well, just listen to the third parable in this chapter; “A man had two sons etc.

Both sons were a disappointment to their father. The younger demanding his share as if his father was dead. The older, caught in resentment because he had slaved all these years. The father risks the loss of one who physically withdraws from the farm, loaded with untimely loot. The other, lost emotionally, stoking his alienation and bursting out with pent-up anger. The anxious father caught, like many a parent, between love and despair; but love wins! The father is even-handed in his compassion and concern that extends to both children. This is the image that Jesus wishes to offer the community of His Heavenly Father. He loves us all, even losers. The Kingdom is to be offered to all!

Paul grasped this message after his conversion having, perhaps, identified himself very closely with the elder son. That experience eventually led him to be the apostle to the Gentiles; those considered worse than the tax collectors and sinners!

Lent is racing along. We have had all sorts of malpractice and injustice paraded before our eyes in recent days. Let us not forget that God has reconciled us to himself! We must shout to all like Paul, “…and the appeal that we make in Christ’s name is: be reconciled to God.”

 

Mons Frank

Third Sunday in Lent  Year C   24 March 2019

It has been a long week for most. Bendigo has had three gatherings in the wake of the Christchurch storm of destruction. A vigil at St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral; around 300 attended on Sunday night. 170 attended the paid Bendigo Interfaith Council Dinner on Thursday addressed by Sherene Hassan from the Australian Islamic Museum, and Friday, a public vigil organised by the Islamic Association with 300 plus in attendance. It would have been appropriate at each celebration to have taken off our shoes as indeed the atmosphere evoked ‘Holy Ground’.

The three ceremonies now strike another thought. The owner of the fig tree was hoping for some fruit, perhaps a big harvest. Was he being too ambitious? Was he being too greedy? Was he being too impatient? Since the eruptions in Bendigo following the granting of the planning permit to build a Mosque (building is to begin in June/July this year), protesters visit the site each Thursday and other people continue to work for peace and understanding. Jesus reminds us this week, not to rush to judgement when ‘new Pilates’ wash and mix blood. Towers will continue to fall down. Our three events seem to have changed the mood in Bendigo for a significant group of Bendigo leaders and citizens.

As in Jesus’ time, bad events cause us to wonder and to look for solutions; and, indeed, we ought! However, we note that in this chapter of Luke’s account, Jesus is well on his way to His trial, humiliation, and death. He rightly adds that we ought not only turn away from sin but accept the fact that God has visited his people. The Kingdom has been proclaimed and all are invited to enter. Again today, the gift of basking in the presence of God may cause us to “cover our face”, to bow down or, like Peter, to say “It is good for us to be here. Let’s build three tents etc.”

Moses, Peter and ourselves have to realise that such insights are given to call people to action on behalf of our broken, wounded, unjust world.

Each of us can simply close our eyes and, in a sense, say our prayers.

What the God of all beings longs to hear is “Here I am, Lord. I come to do your will.”

Mons Frank