Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time 8 August 2021

The readings today are those appropriate to the Solemnity of Mary MacKillop.

Pardon a little history.

Mary opened the first Josephite school in Victoria at Numurkah, a parish in the Diocese of Sandhurst, on 12 January 1890. She returned to the Diocese in August 1891, visiting the many families who had accepted a child from one of the homes that the sisters had established in Melbourne. She was ever solicitous for the wellbeing of those children. Mary arrived in Bendigo (then called Sandhurst) on August 3, 1891 and in the next few days, she endured “some rough driving around Eagle Hawk and Myers Flat” whilst staying at the Convent of Mercy in Barclay Place. She then visited Pyramid Hill, Echuca Toolamba before leaving for Melbourne on August 6. All this by train and coach, 140 years ago. Celebrate this grand woman in a creative way this Sunday.

Looking back, it is now obvious that the Word of God came to Mary as it did to Elijah. She, too, in some way was told to “up and go”. On her many journeys around this vast continent, she was often in the receipt of the “widows” or “fellow travellers” mites, who offered her hospitality and money to assist her works. Mary, like Elijah, had a great trust in Divine providence. In an age that is rather sceptical of the religious dimension, let alone the benefits of a solid spirituality (the Victorian Parliament is to debate the removal of the Our Father from the opening order of the day’s work in the coming days), it is timely to remind ourselves that for ourselves, as for Mary, the words from today’s psalm are apt, “My soul shall be filled as with a banquet”.

The Gospel for today is Matthew 6:25-34. Some of its key words are, “Each day has enough trouble of its own”. This current outbreak in the eastern states is a grim reminder for our affluent age, that things were not always as comfortable for people as we have experienced since World War II. Mary had her troubles, including the famous misunderstanding with the Bishop in Perth. I have found a little quote from one of her letters written on August 7, 1888….

“Do what you can with the means at your disposal….

And leave all the rest calmly to God.”

May this great Australian continue to be a source of great pride for all Australians. May we endeavour to continue her work where we can with what we have.

Mons Frank