Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time 6 September 2020

As we keep saying in Victoria, even on Father’s Day, it is different this year!

So, let us try to be a little creative…after all, Spring has sprung, even in central Victoria.

Historically, Mother’s and Father’s Day seem to have arisen from the whim of the commercial world. The same enterprising spirit is trying to overwhelm our traditional family day, Christmas, and some try to counteract the emphasis on Mother’s and Father’s Day by saying that every day ought to be Mother’s and Father’s Day. But if the days are to be split, can we cope with suggesting you read the word from Ezekiel, “I have appointed you sentry to the House of Israel” (be you Mother or Father).

Given that context, is it fair then to ask, “How do you warn them? or “How do you recognise wicked people?”

As sentry, can you easily, “…go and have it out with him alone”?

Or, if that fails, have you got “one or two others” that you can call upon to take the next step of reconciliation? The major sentry for Australia may be pondering this action after a rather disappointing National Cabinet meeting this week! Or, for that matter, the Pope might be looking for “one or two others” to help him build bridges within the Catholic tradition, let alone with other faiths!

Jesus seems to accept that there are times and situations which seemingly can’t be resolved. It seems harsh to hear Jesus suggesting “treat him like a pagan or a tax collector.” Obviously, Matthew’s community is having a few problems!

So where does that leave us?

We all need a sentry in our household and, perhaps, many in our community. We must try to be reconcilers and, perhaps, Paul’s word will give us encouragement, “Love is the one thing that cannot hurt your neighbour.”

Let us keep trying to build peace.

Mons Frank

P.S. A happy and blessed day to all who bear the title, Father.

Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time 30 August 2020

“You have seduced me, Lord, and I have let myself be seduced; 

  you have overpowered me: you were the stronger.”

These are the opening words, attributed to the prophet Jeremiah, in this Sunday’s Scripture. Somehow or other, this year, the juxtaposition of the liturgical feasts of St Monica, followed by our remembrance of her son, the great St Augustine and yesterday’s recall of the savage death of the young John the Baptist, all seem to highlight the importance of the Gospel dialogue between Jesus and Peter. (I often ponder this incident. Would it have been written down by other authors recalling the beginnings of their movement? Peter recently anointed as the ‘rock’ being told “Get behind me, Satan!”)

on the opposite stance, “Who do you say I am?”

Monica “…a lifetime of prayer, saved her husband and her son…

Augustine, brilliant and still one of the great minds of all time, eventually wrote, 

“Late have I loved you, Beauty so ancient and so new”.

John the Baptist…with his extraordinary statement, “He must increase, I must decrease.”

Monica, Augustine and John all came to experience Jeremiah’s experience,

“There seemed to be a fire burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones.”

So, too, did Peter. His is so really a very human journey, one that gives all hope.

Monica witnessed by a life of prayer,

Augustine by his wonderful writings and pastoral zeal, 

John, by courageous denouncing of injustice, 

Peter by always getting up after his many fails.

Many calls, many paths. 

What is yours? 

What is mine?


Mons Frank

Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time 23 August 2020

Who do you think you are?

That attitude was behind many of the incidents involving people caught in violation of some regulation during our Covid-19 shutdown. The ‘offender’ responded to the officer by questioning her or his credentials. In doing so, scant regard was shown to the general community, almost an attitude of “I’m alright, I’m correct, who do you think you are?” 

One aspect of our faith is based upon the opposite stance, “Who do you say I am?”

The first scenario created anger, division, and a certain amount of opprobrium. The second requires a soul search and a decision based upon experience and proper judgement. One creates negativity, the other the possibility of new life.

Happily, Peter, despite his obvious humanity, made the right call and Matthew records the incident, perhaps twenty or so years later, when writing for his new community, the one called “Church”, as distinct from the continuing “Synagogue”.

As we grow, we all have to respond to the following questions at one time or another and, perhaps, on many occasions: 

How…we perceive ourselves?

How…others perceive us?

How…our friends perceive us?

How…God perceives us?

All that can be quite confronting…but if we try, then we will be more able to answer the great question posed by Jesus “Who do you say I am?” and confidently affirm, like Peter, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”


Mons Frank

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time 16 August 2020

Was Jesus having a bad day?

Our experiences of bad days are being added to as the lockdown continues, and not only in Victoria. Notice, hoarding again in the ‘Shaky Isles’! Jesus’ words to the woman seem so out of character when compared to his obvious respect for women in other events recorded in the Gospels. 

Well, I guess he is entitled to a lapse or a day off. In recent weeks, the Scripture has indicated his desire for a bit of solitude, particularly after the John the Baptist episode. They were family.

On the other hand, it is Matthew’s account and he is particularly keen to help his mainly Jewish community come to grips with the renewed truth that the God of Jesus Christ loves all. Busting long-engrained prejudices was as difficult then as now. Witness the response to the proposed accord between the Emirates and Israel!

What a wonderful commentary on this subject is the second reading today, written years before the words of Matthew.

So, maybe Jesus was giving a lesson to his disciples that they, the original chosen people, may have to lift their game. Regularly in their history of obedience and disobedience they often failed to see and understand their call to bring others to the knowledge and love of the true God.

The true God is merciful, forgiving and loves all. So, after the lesson, the cure is granted…and you disciples, in a sense, says Jesus, note the word of approval, “Woman, you have great faith.”

I think Isaiah would have nodded his approval. Check the first reading. A d ose of encouragement for us ‘foreigners’ who centuries later have attached ourselves to the Lord.

May we continue to be people of faith and continue to serve him and love his name.


Mons Frank

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time 9 August 2020

There are many ways to drown! 

Whilst the Gospel takes us to the Sea of Galilee, in reality an inland lake, in Victoria we are experiencing other forms of drowning; the state of disaster declaration, curfew in Melbourne, stay at home for all in country Victoria, endless news bulletins and Covid -19 graphs taking the place of football ladders! At least Peter could see Jesus and a physical hand came to his rescue. 

And masks. Drowning now in lack of facial recognition.

The scholars tell us that the thrust of Matthew’s Gospel was to demonstrate to his community, principally made up of former worshippers at the temple, that Jesus, who said, “It is I”, is really the one who does what God does and speaks as God speaks. For centuries, their scriptures spoke about the deeds of the living God. Note the anguish, “mental anguish” in Paul’s words to us today. He reminds us of his brothers of Israel, of their chosen status, and ends recalling that “They are descended from the patriarchs and from their flesh and blood came Christ who is above all, God, for ever blessed!”

Life in the early communities was anything but easy. Sure, there was an initial wave of believers. As always, things settle and then generation after generation are made, like the disciples, to go on ahead to the other side. 

There will be “the other side” to our current storm. He who said that he would be with us always to the end of the ages, is still able to come across the waters. 

Perhaps, like Peter, we need to learn again how to cry out “Lord, if it is you, tell me to come to you across the water”.

Mons Frank