Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, an Australian community, in a worldwide religious congregation.
Jesus loved with a human heart: with him we proclaim his love to the world.
We work to discover through advocacy, healing and reconciliation, God's presence in our world.
We are to be on earth the heart of God. God has no other heart but ours.
- Published: Wednesday, 05 October 2016 17:08
Twenty Eighth Sunday of the Year
October 9th 2016
Suggested formula for recognition of indigenous people and their land.
We acknowledge the traditional owners and custodians of the land on which we stand. We pay our respects to them and for their care of the land.
May we walk gently on this land.
Reading I 2 Kgs 5:14-17
Responsorial Psalm Ps 98:1, 2-3, 3-4
Reading II 2 Tm 2:8-13
Gospel Lk 17:11-19
- You look kindly upon your people and heal their brokenness. Jesus, have mercy.
- You teach us wisdom and enable us to discern your presence in the world. Christ, have mercy.
- You challenge us to appreciate your gifts and share them. Jesus, have mercy.
Penitential Rite [Alternative]
· Jesus, you show God’s compassion to us and heal us. Jesus, have mercy.
· Jesus, you show God’s compassion to all outcasts and dispose us to accept them. Christ, have mercy.
· Jesus, you give strength to all who suffer for following you faithfully. Jesus, have mercy.
God of Healing,
you look with compassion upon all your people
and see in them your graceful work of art. .
Stir within our hearts a belief
that you wish to heal us and make us whole
and that we recognise your life in all people and creation
and that we participate in your healing and reconciliation.
Prayer over the Gifts
God of Healing,
may the prayers and gifts we offer in faith and love
serve to open our minds
to your presence amongst all people.
Prayer after Communion
God of Healing,
may the body and blood of Jesus which we have shared
renew, strengthen us and give us courage
to be a gift to those around us
and promote the good of all.
Prayers of the Faithful
Introduction: Let us pray to God for a deeper appreciation of God’s gifts to us and use them for the good of all: The response is: Healing God, fill us with your love.
- That Church and religious leaders may not sacrifice their values for power, success and ambition but commit themselves to promote human dignity and the gospel values of peace, justice and compassion. We pray: Healing God, fill us with your love.
- That all faith leaders may speak with voices that promote the good of all people by challenging politicians to give priority to the common good above political or personal interests. We pray: Healing God, fill us with your love.
- That people who have come to this country as refugees with their history of suffering abuse and various traumas will be respected and their stories honoured rather than vilified. We pray: Healing God, fill us with your love.
- That the lonely figures of dissent within society and the churches may continue to courageously expose injustice, lies and deceit without wavering. We pray: Healing God, fill us with your love.
- That the developed countries of the world have the wisdom to recognise the injustice they inflict on other countries by unfair trade practices, the refusal to cancel debts and the failure to abide by international law. We pray: Healing God, fill us with your love.
- That people engaged in the all forms of media will promote the values of life by seeking the truth and exposing injustice in the churches, politics and business. We pray: Healing God, fill us with your love.
- That we may all, through the teaching of the Gospel, come to a new understanding of justice that goes beyond alms-giving and charity to a redistribution of wealth and sharing. We pray: Healing God, fill us with your love.
- That Australians will not take for granted the riches of culture that have been inherited from the indigenous people of this land and from the people who have come here from other lands. We pray: Healing God, fill us with your love.
Concluding Prayer: We thank you God of healing and reconciliation for hearing our prayers. May your Spirit give us grateful hearts and show that gratitude in our lives. .
October 12 Anniversary of the Bombings in Bali 2002
October 13 International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction
October 13-19 Anti-Poverty Week
October 15 UN International Day of Rural Women
October 16 World Food Day
True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs re-structuring.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
My dear religious brothers and sisters, empty convents aren’t useful to the church to be turned into hotels and make money. Empty convents aren’t ours, they are for that body of Christ that are refugees.
Pope Francis, speaking Tuesday in a meeting with members of religious orders.
Each one of you, dear friends, carries with you the story of a life riven by the drama of war, by conflicts often linked to international politics… But each of you carries above all a human and religious richness; a wealth to be welcomed, not feared. Many of you are Muslims or of other religions; you come from many countries and from different situations. We must not be afraid of difference! Brotherhood allows us to discover that diversity is wealth, a gift for all!
Pope Francis addressing refugees and asylum seekers on 10th September 2013 during a visit to the Centro Astalli refugee centre in Rome managed by the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS)
Religious men and women are prophets. [...] [T]he vows cannot end up being caricatures; otherwise, for example, community life becomes hell, and chastity becomes a way of life for unfruitful bachelors. The vow of chastity must be a vow of fruitfulness. In the church, the religious are called to be prophets in particular by demonstrating how Jesus lived on this earth, and to proclaim how the kingdom of God will be in its perfection. A religious must never give up prophecy. This does not mean opposing the hierarchical part of the church, although the prophetic function and the hierarchical structure do not coincide. I am talking about a proposal that is always positive, but it should not cause timidity... Being prophets may sometimes imply making waves. I do not know how to put it.... Prophecy makes noise, uproar, some say ‘a mess.’ But in reality, the charism of religious people is like yeast: prophecy announces the spirit of the Gospel.
I have a dogmatic certainty: God is in every person’s life. God is in everyone’s life. Even if the life of a person has been a disaster, even if it is destroyed by vices, drugs or anything else—God is in this person’s life. You can, you must try to seek God in every human life. Although the life of a person is a land full of thorns and weeds, there is always a space in which the good seed can grow. You have to trust God.
The way society responds to the needs of the poor
through its public policies is the litmus test of its justice or injustice.
Economic Justice for All, #123
During times of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.
We are each of us angels with one wing.
And we can only fly while embracing each other;
Luciano de Crescenzo
The Tenth Leper
Today, my God, I came back to thank you.
The other nine times I forgot.
It was not ingratitude, you understand,
but a careless enthusiasm.
I prayed for healing and when it came
I got swept away on a wave of new energy
and was so busy making up for lost time
that somehow you got left behind.
Today, my God, I remembered to come back
to the inner stillness where you waited
to share in my rejoicing. I didn’t run
but returned quietly, holding out my heart
like a bowl, containing all the thanks I knew.
You accepted it with pleasure,
saying nothing about the other nine times
and the nine times before that.
Then, when you gave my heart back to me,
not empty but overflowing with your love,
I experienced yet another healing.
Joy Cowley, Psalms Down-Under, Catholic Supplies NZ Ltd.
Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need,
but not every man’s greed.
In the midst of conflict and division
We know it is you
Who turns our minds to thoughts of peace.
Your Spirit changes our hearts:
Enemies begin to speak to one another,
Those who were estranged join hands in friendship
And nations seek the way of peace together.
Let Your Spirit be at work in us.
Give us understanding and put an end to strife,
Fill us with mercy and overcome our denial
Grant us wisdom and teach us to learn
From the people of the land
Call us to justice.
Adapted from the Preface of the Eucharistic Prayer for Masses of Reconciliation II by the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council
We are beginning to discover
that our problem is worldwide,
and no one people of the earth
can work out its salvation
by detaching itself from others.
Either we shall be saved together
or drawn together
Rabindranath Tagore, Indian poet and philosopher
Liberate us from the chains of fear;
Free us from the closed circles of discrimination;
Liberate us from prisons of prejudice;
Free us from the confines of nationalism.
Liberated us from hate and envy, greed and pride.
Free us from hostility and anger, violence and injustice.
Led us into the way of peace and justice.
adapted from John Johansen-Berg, England
Not a sacred warrior,
Nor with a bayonet blessed by God,
Not even a human being,
Just a simple peasant; a surrogate,
A sacrificial lamb, a frightened child,
Chosen by the rich to be an instrument of war,
A cold-blooded, battle-trained beast,
A mindless savage ordered to kill,
A molded piece of steel, an object . . . a gear,
A very small cog in a far-reaching engine of death,
An insignificant fleck in the overall fabric of life,
A negligible notch on the handle of an enemy's gun,
A mere afterthought for those who extol the wonders of war,
An unkempt grunt,
A lonely gutted, blood-spattered corpse lying on the ground,
Something like the trivial crush of dead dog on a lonely country road,
Dead meat . . . with a tin tag,
A sacred breath of life having been stripped from its mother's womb,
A father's pride; his very best friend,
Someone whose name is Abdul, Mohammed, Ishmael, Ibrahim, or Hassan,
Or then again . . . perhaps even Mike, John, Mark, Eddy, Ben, or Bill,
A world diminished by the loss of another precious child!
Doug Soderstrom, Ph.D., is professor of psychology at Wharton County Junior College in Wharton, Texas.
Communion becomes a profound source of energy for the healing of suffering. Knowing that we are not abandoned makes all the difference.’
Elizabeth Johnson, She Who Is, p. 266
Every one of us has a responsibility. Yes, we’ll continue to grieve, and we’ll continue to live in insecurity and fear. But if we turn to God, we know that God is in our midst and loves us and can comfort us. But then we must listen to this God of ours who came into the world in Jesus, and who taught us a whole different way to peace. If we’re willing to listen to God, if we’re willing to follow God’s ways, we can come to peace. If we refuse, if we’re like the elder son in the Gospel who thinks – I’m righteous! I’ve been doing the right thing all my life – He couldn’t listen to his father. If we’re like that, we won’t listen to God. And we’ll move forward in the direction we’re going. And there’s nothing but more violence in the future. It doesn’t take much to look back through history to discover that violence always breeds violence. It’s only when we break the cycle of violence that you can bring peace.
Bishop Thomas J. Gumbleton, Homily, September 16, 2001
The Church . . . has always taught and continues today to teach a very simple axiom: peace is possible. Indeed, the Church does not tire of repeating that peace is a duty. It must be built on the four pillars indicated by Blessed John XXIII in his Encyclical Pacem in Terris: truth, justice, love and freedom. A duty is thus imposed upon all those who love peace: that of teaching these ideals to new generations, in order to prepare a better future for all mankind.’
Pope John Paul II, January 1, 2004
It is to be hoped that hatred and violence will not triumph in people's hearts, especially among those who are struggling for justice, and that all people will grow in the spirit of peace and forgiveness.
Pope John Paul II, Centesimus Annus
We, women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country, to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.’ From the bosom of the devastated earth a voice goes up with our own. It says: ‘Disarm, disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.
Julia Ward Howe
In the general course of human nature, a power over man's substance amounts to a power over his will.
Most Americans aren't the sort of citizens the Founding Fathers expected; they are contented serfs. Far from being active critics of government, they assume that its might makes it right.
Joseph Sobran (1946- ) Columnist
A State which dwarfs its men [and women], in order that they may be more docile instruments in its hands - even for beneficial purposes - will find that with small men [and women] no great thing can really be accomplished.
John Stuart Mill - (1806-1873) English philosopher and economist
We must make clear to the Germans that the wrong for which their fallen leaders are on trial is not that they lost the war, but that they started it.
Robert Jackson, U.S. Supreme Court Justice, U.S. representative to the International Conference on Military Trials, Aug. 12, 1945
To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.
Nuremburg War Tribunal regarding wars of aggression
A Society that is in its higher circles and middle levels widely believed to be a network of smart rackets does not produce men with an inner moral sense; a society that is merely expedient does not produce men of conscience. A society that narrows the meaning of ‘success’ to the big money and in its terms condemns failure as the chief vice, raising money to the plane of absolute value, will produce the sharp operator and the shady deal. Blessed are the cynical, for only they have what it takes to succeed.
C. Wright Mills, The Power Elite
Few are willing to brave the disapproval of their fellows, the censure of the colleagues, the wrath of their society. Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential, vital quality for those who seek to change a world that yields most painfully to change. Each time a person stands up for an idea, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, (s)he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.
Robert F. Kennedy
It is a rare day when we are completely satisfied. Usually we are hoping, wishing, longing, thirsting, for something more, something different, something else we think will satisfy us or make our lives happier. We are often like an empty cup waiting to be filled with whatever it is we think is missing in our lives. There are many kinds of inner thirsting. Not to thirst for things of the ego such as recognition, prestige, power and success is very difficult. Once we shake ourselves loose from these longings, our spirit will be more free to thirst for the deeper things of God. We will be much more intent on asking for the living water for our thirsty soul instead of the things that feed our thirsty ego.
Joyce Rupp, The Cup of Our Life
Our Creator beyond us,
Yet you dwell among us,
We praise you.
We pray for the home of promise
(which we've never fully known)
as we work to be your welcome in the world.
Grant us this day abundant life.
And forgive us our exiling
as we pray for the peace
to forgive those who exile us.
Lead us out of our need to create boundaries,
and delight us in the diversity of life!
For you are the Keeper of Community,
the Source behind our deepest longing,
and the One who provides an eternal Home.
Ripping Off The Labels
John van de Laar
We love labels, Jesus.
We parade them on our clothes and on our possessions
to make sure everyone knows
who we are
and what we've accomplished
They're so useful, Jesus.
We use them to divide ourselves up
so that everyone knows where they fit in
where they belong
and where they don't.
But, the truth is, our labels are heavy, Jesus.
We have to live up to them, and maintain the status quo they create,
we waste so much time working out who's in and who's out
who it's OK to like
and who we need to shun
and beneath it all, we're afraid that maybe one day
we'll wear the wrong label and not realise it,
and suddenly we'll be the ones who are outside.
So, there's only one thing to do, Jesus.
It's what you've wanted us to do all along,
We're ripping off the labels, throwing them to the wind
and allowing the freedom of “labellessness” to claim us.
We need you to help us to do this, Jesus.
Not just for us, but for all people;
To help us forget our fascination with labels,
our need to classify and divide ourselves,
our fear of those who are different,
So that we can all find a way to live and love
in peace and freedom and equality
The Life That Ignores Limits
John van de Laar
It hides in every corner,
it crosses every boundary;
Your life, O God, ignores limits.
We know it in the safe ones we love and enjoy;
but, if we look, it appears in those who are different,
Your life, O God, ignores limits.
It's easy to see in those who are healthy and comfortable;
vibrant, joyful and privileged to have access
to the wonder-inspiring experiences that life offers;
but, if we look, it appears in those who seem lost to life,
poor and weak,
sick and broken and unable to move
beyond their limited horizons;
Your life, O God, ignores limits.
And so we celebrate your life, wherever it may be found,
and we commit ourselves to be life-seekers,
discerning and acknowledging life
in every person, every moment and every space.
The Ones We Long For
John van de Laar
In a world that too easily wounds and breaks,
we long for those who will heal and restore;
In a world that too easily divides and dissects,
we long for those who will unify and interweave;
In a world that too easily excludes and judges,
we long for those who will include and understand;
And in a world where your call, O God, can still be heard,
we long for the courage to answer,
and to be the ones we long for.
Reflections on the readings
In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus takes a strange route to Jerusalem, one that most people would not take. Luke is keen to remind us that Jesus is at the border of Samaritan county whose people were despised by the Jews for their hybrid faith – as today the Shiites and Sufis are despised by Sunni Muslims. Of course the Samaritans reciprocated with their own hostility to the Jews who considered them religious and social outcasts. Not only is Jesus traveling through an ‘in-between’ territory, he meets the lepers in this apparently God-forsaken place – and still more so on the borders of town - Naaman is asked to bathe in the foreign to him and dirty Jordan River, and Paul is chained ‘like a criminal’ in prison where no decent people would find themselves. But it is in marginal places, that people are freed from their usual conventions, from business as usual living, to receive God's faithfulness in unexpected and extravagant ways.
We are once again brought us face to face with the Gospel’s scandalous inclusivity. Looking at Face Book and other media sources, we see how tempting it is to find ways to draw lines around people to keep them out, whereas our call is to respond to the world’s desperate need for people who will embrace, include and welcome people without discrimination. We hear again the liberating gospel, as well as in the other readings, where ‘outsiders’ are drawn by God’s love into a new embrace, where they can be included and be at home with God and God’s people.
Jesus appears as one marginal person with the marginalised - ten people who must keep their distance because of their infectious disease (leprosy). It is interesting that the Greek text and some contemporary translations describe them not just as ‘lepers’ but also as men. Though a subtle point, it is a humanizing note that respects personal dignity, just as today we refer to people ‘living with disabilities’ and not ‘the disabled’. What is more significant is the personhood, not the disability.
Jesus’ journey reveals the strength of God’s compassionate love - and how various people respond. People have different ways of responding to God’s compassion. God’s compassionate love is manifested in Jesus and offered to people who are marginalised, hurting or suffering. Jesus’ journey towards Jerusalem through an ‘in-between’ region, a kind of no-where land symbolises his mission – he is the heart of God sent to all people ready to go to any out of the way places. This ‘in-between’ region [no-man’s land] becomes everyone’s land because God is in this place. These are the kinds of places where God encounters ‘all’ people and they, whoever they are, have the ‘space’ to meet one another. Today’s gospel is just one story manifesting God’s passion for the lost, the marginalised, the abused, the excluded, and the stranger. Jesus’ word bridges the gap between them. We see how shared misery enables people to cross boundaries, to build bridges. The misery of this disease resulted in a hated Samaritan, a stranger and religious half-breed, being companioned with Jewish people.
Thomas Merton, a Trappist monk, describes in The Sign of Jonas being overwhelmed on a street corner in Louisville in one of his very infrequent excursions outside his monastery in 1948:
I found that everything stirred me with a deep and mute sense of compassion. Perhaps some of the people we saw going about the streets were hard and tough – but I did not observe it because I seemed to have lost an eye for merely exterior details and to have discovered, instead, a deep sense of respect and love.
Do we see today’s lepers in the isolated, the alienated, the untouchables in our society, and respond with compassion? In fact, the leper is anyone who threatens us or is dangerous and needs top security to keep them away.
At the beginning of his public ministry in the synagogue at Nazareth, Jesus infuriated the people of his hometown by mentioning the foreigner, Naaman, a foreign military officer, again a non-Jew, who was healed of leprosy by the word of the prophet Elisha. To the Jews, Naaman being a foreigner was bad enough, but being afflicted with leprosy made him doubly unfit for the community. We saw this double unfitness in the leper of the gospel as well. Yet, despite multiple human barriers, God brings healing and restoration. So both the first reading and the gospel are about foreigners/outsiders/ people with double stigmas, and how they respond to God.
The story is less about the miraculous cure than the restoration of people to the community, to relationship. More than a cure, this is healing. For some of the gospel characters today, the cure might have been merely getting back to life as it was whereas for the one, the stranger, it was getting a whole new life [healing]. For most it was a reentry into their own Jewish community but for one it was entry into a new relationship of faith and solidarity with all those who acknowledge God’s action in Jesus. He is invited to get up and go – to live; not return to old ways but a new and creative way of living inspired by his faith. His new way of living will be grounded on having experienced God’s love for him, having recognised that God is active in the ‘nowhere’ places of our world, and that he now also has a love he can now share in his encounters with others. It is not business as usual but seizing a second chance. This can happen to people who have been involved in a car crash or survived cancer or suffered a heart attack. Some people go back to business as usual as if their experience was no big deal, and others see the experience as another opportunity to live life to the full and to serve. It comes out of an awareness that life is something gracious and given an awareness that we have creative energies to use for the good of others - or keep them for ourselves. Although the situations mentioned are not everyday experiences and can be exceptional opportunities, we do not have to wait for a near death experience to realise that our time is limited and the only time we have is ‘the now’. The ‘present moment’ is all we have; it is the ‘sacrament’, the moment of encounter with the Sacred in our lives.
In today’s scriptures, the voice of God comes from unlikely people. Naaman listens first to a slave girl, and later follows the advice of his servants. A Samaritan leper shows saving faith. Paul is in ‘chains’, in prison, but his gospel is ‘unchained’.
For a long time in our church we allowed people to accept a different status for some people from others. Consider slavery which was never condemned until 1965 at the Vatican Council. It was accepted that some people were lesser than other people; that there was a boundary in that God was not fully in them. Then there were the Spanish invasions in Latin America and Central America where native peoples could be killed because they we considered less than human. However, others understood that that is not the way God is. God is present to every person. God is present in every person and God can speak through all of us. Such changes do not always come from the leadership but from the people themselves. I think of women who are convinced that they are called by God to priesthood. Could not God be speaking through them, and through the many people who say, ‘Yes,’ to that? We see that God works in the lives of people of integrity regardless of gender or their ethnic or religious backgrounds or sexual orientation. ‘One would not expect a Samaritan to do the decent thing and say, ‘Thank you!’ because we know what Samaritans are like, don’t we’. Who could we put in place of Samaritans? ‘You would not expect and Indigenous person to be grateful, would you?’ ‘You know what Muslims are like?’ ‘You know what those Africans are like, and the Immigration Minister has told us so?’ ‘You know what gays are like?’ ‘You know what those people with nose rings and other metal in their bodies are like?’ ‘You know what those people who come here in boats are like?’ It is not be difficult to find other parallels in our communities. No matter what we come up with, Luke is clearly subverting stereotypes whether racist, political, or those based on gender and sexual orientation.
As various forms of conflict threaten the peace and survival of our planet, religious exclusivity and finger-pointing is not just a form of immaturity – but a very dangerous way to live. Jesus comes into this ‘nowhere land’ challenging us as he crossed all sorts of lines in order to draw circles around everyone. All are loved and accepted by God. Where many tend to define ourselves according to nationality, race, skin colour, gender, sexual orientation, economic status, educational level, language and so much more – and use these definitions to justify all kinds of injustice, discrimination and stereotyping, the call to those who follow Jesus is to make outsiders insiders and embrace people not easy to love. This is the gospel of nonviolence that is world-changing. The stories today are deliberately subversive. Those not respectable and despised become models of faith, who recognise God’s loving activity in all places and in all people, who respond to God by being in solidarity with all people, all God’s people. It is a story that lives itself out in every generation. But how do we match up to the recognition of God as a God of all people? Do we genuinely sing the responsorial Psalm 98 with joy because out God’s faithful love is not limited to any one nation? If ours is a multicultural society can we look around at the assembly in church today and praise God for the diversity of people with whom we are in communion? Or if they are not there, we wonder why?
As we gather each week, we hear the words of Jesus challenging us to be healed – of our pride, selfishness, anger, apathy, laziness and deceit, sense of exceptionalism, grandiosity, the need to build walls and barriers. If the Christian community is to retain any prophetic voice, Christ’s radical inclusivity must be embraced daily. It is not about the right prayers prayed, the right theological ideas taught, but where following Christ being one of open arms to all others, being indiscriminate who we serve, love, give to, include, and bless. In Australia, we must not let a word like ‘Muslim’ (as was ‘Samaritan’) become an insult where our faith leads to arrogance, dominance, exploitation, or dismissal of others.