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: Tuesday, 25 October 2016 18:02
Thirty First Sunday of the Year
October 30, 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.
We acknowledge the traditional custodians and occupiers of the land where we are now gathered, (N…. ) and recognise that it continues to be sacred to them.
We hail them: as guardians of the earth and of all things that grow and breed in the soil; as trustees of the waters – [the seas, the streams and rivers, the ponds and the lakes] - and the rich variety of life in those waters.
We thank them for passing this heritage to every people since the Dreamtime.
We acknowledge the wrongs done to them by newcomers to this land and we seek to be partners with them in righting these wrongs and in living together in peace and harmony.
The reading from Wisdom adds much to our notion of God, offering us additional ways of thinking about God that are related to God's creative power,
First Reading: Wisdom 11:22-12:2
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 145:1-2, 8-9, 10-11, 13, 14 Response: I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.
Second Reading:2 Thessalonians 1:11-2:2
Gospel: Luke 19:1-10
- God of Jesus, you have mercy and compassion on all. Jesus, have mercy.
- God of Jesus, you love all things that exist and loathe nothing that you have made. Christ, have mercy.
- God of Jesus, your imperishable spirit is in all things. Jesus, have mercy.
Just and merciful God,
you reside in every house
and you are the delight of every heart.
Come into our midst today,
change our lives and minds
as you speak your word
and address our hunger.
May we see you clearly
as we encounter our sisters and brothers
and give justice and mercy a place in our lives.
Prayer over the Gifts
Just and merciful God,
Jesus your Son did not shun or condemn
outcasts and sinners.
As Jesus comes into our presence
through this bread and wine
may we be strengthened
to courageously walk in his footsteps
by standing with the poor, the unwanted, the dismissed.
Prayer after Communion
Just and merciful God,
Jesus has given himself to us
in his body and blood.
May we hear the call
to come down from our trees
to the dusty streets so that
we hear and understand
the silent cry of people in our world.
Introduction: Let us pray with trust to God who is kind and full of compassion. We pray in response: Give us a new heart, Merciful God.
- God of peace: we remember the people of Aleppo, Mosul, Kirkuk, Sana all who are suffering destruction and death and may we hear their cries for peace and security: Give us a new heart, Merciful God.
- God of all creation: may we recognise your presence in all of creation but also our part in destroying it and the cause of pain and suffering to people of the Philippines who suffer the effects of hurricanes, cyclones and the peoples of the Pacific Island nations threatended by rising waters: Give us a new heart, Merciful God.
- God is merciful to all: may we recognise God’s imperishable Spirit in all whom we encounter. We pray: Give us a new heart, Merciful God.
- God hears the cry of the poor and the stranger: may we open our eyes and our hearts to all who call us for asylum, justice and a human standard of living, We pray: Give us a new heart, Merciful God.
- God is powerful in showing mercy and compassion: may we accept this power as grace to touch and heal rather than being a source of fear and domination. We pray: Give us a new heart, Merciful God.
- God of the outcasts of the world: may we follow Jesus who crossed social divides in order to heal, restore and reconcile, cast aside our fears of those who are different from us them. We pray: Give us a new heart, Merciful God.
- God loves every living being: may we see and acknowledge each person and all of creation as God’s work of art. Give us a new heart, Merciful God.
- God loves life: may we take time to rest in God and for our own nourishment by enjoying and appreciating our relationships. We pray: Give us a new heart, Merciful God.
- God raises all who are bowed down: may we act with courage and overcome the urge to be spectators in the face of injustice and exploitation. We pray: Give us a new heart, Merciful God.
- God is life for all those who have died and those who have been tortured for their commitment to peace and democracy in their own lands: may their efforts be the building-bricks for a new people born of respect and dignity. Give us a new heart, Merciful God.
- We pray for the peoples of West Papua that they may find respect for their humanity and that they will be finally be governed for their own good rather than being dominated by violent and oppressive forces. Give us a new heart, Merciful God.
- We pray with all people who strive to build a better and more humane society that they will have the strength to continue to live by their hope for freedom. Give us a new heart, Merciful God.
Concluding Prayer: Merciful God, you call us to engage in the realities of other peoples’ lives. Help us to be faithful to your call.
Prayer for the People of West Papua
We see them walking, walking.
Sorrow in one hand, hope in the other.
May we walk with them in spirit,
May we also be a visible hint of God’s promises
So each step we take together
Moves us all closer to the Incarnated Body,
The Kingdom of God that we create
For all members of the human family,
Walking, walking, walking
On the journey to justice.
Jane Deren, adapted from another prayer in Education for Justice
If we simply repeat the formulas of the past, our words may have the character of doctrine and dogma but they will not have the character of good news. We may be preaching perfectly orthodox doctrine but it is not the gospel for us today. We must take the idea of good news seriously. If our message does not take the form of good news, it is simply not the Christian gospel.
Albert Nolan, O.P.
When you pray, move your feet.
To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.
Today it is fashionable to talk about the poor. Unfortunately, it is not fashionable to talk with them.
To work in the world lovingly means that we are defining what we will be for, rather than reacting to what we are against.
All men (and women) desire peace, but very few desire those things that make for peace.
Thomas A. Kempis
It is curious that people who are filled with horrified indignation whenever a cat kills a sparrow can hear that story of the killing of God told Sunday after Sunday and not experience any shock at all.
Dorothy L. Sayers
Reconciliation means understanding
Reconciliation means awareness
Reconciliation means compassion you say you want reconciliation
But do you understand what it will take?
You must stop giving your own interpretations of –
who I am
how I live
what I feel
and what I SHOULD DO
You must stop assessing me by your own
You must start to
Don’t forget –
It is you that is making peace with me.
And I am happy to do so,
But not at the cost of losing my dignity.
Anita Heiss, I’m not racist, but….. A collection of social observations
Enlarge within us the sense of
fellowship with all living things,
our brothers (and sisters) the animals to whom you
gave the earth as their home
in common with us.
We remember with shame that in the past
we have exercised the high dominion
of humans with ruthless cruelty
so that the voice of the earth
which should have gone up to you
in song, has been a groan of travail.
May we realise that they live not for
us alone but for themselves and for
you, and that they love the sweetness of life.
Apprehend God in all things, for God is in all things.
Every single creature is full of God and is a book
about God. Every creature is a word of God. If I
spend enough time with the tiniest creature, even a
caterpillar, I would never have to a prepare a sermon.
So full of God is every creature.
Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity or it becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world.
The only lasting beauty is the beauty of the heart.
It is absolutely essential that the oppressed participate in the revolutionary process with an increasingly critical awareness of their role as subjects of the transformation.
The trust of the people in the leaders reflects the confidence of the leaders in the people.
Washing one's hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral.
Teaching is love made visible
Washing one's hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral.
Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom.
There are lots of different people saying lots of different things, and some of them put us off with their craziness and there are lots of points to argue with them about, but at their best they seem to be acting out of a single profound impulse, which is best described with words like tolerance, compassion, sanity, hope, justice. It is an impulse that has always been part of the human heart, but it seems to be welling up into the world with new power in our age now even as the forces of darkness are welling up with the new power in our age too. That is the bright side, I think, the glad and hopeful side, of what Jesus means by ‘The time is fulfilled.’ He means the time is ripe.
Frederick Buechner, Secrets in the Dark: A Life in Sermons
Teaching scripture as a story allows God's story to become a guiding light for the learner. Resources for faith are provided that can support a person's character development. Images are presented that can nurture a construction of Christian identity that is faithful to the church.... Hearers become inspired and encouraged to identify their story with the scripture. Readers are equipped to relate and broaden their personal experiences in light of their social existence. Learners are empowered to judge and redefine what is meaningful in their lives.
Joseph V. Crockett, Teaching Scripture from an African-American Perspective
By far the most dangerous foe we have to fight is apathy - indifference from whatever cause, not from a lack of knowledge, but from carelessness, from absorption in other pursuits, from a contempt bred of self satisfaction
William Osler (Canadian Physician, 1849-1919)
Apathy is the glove into which evil slips its hand.
My generation's apathy. I'm disgusted with it. I'm disgusted with my own apathy too, for being spineless and not always standing up against racism, sexism and all those other -isms the counterculture has been whinning about for years.
Kurt Cobain (American Musician and Singer of the grunge rock band Nirvana. 1967-1994)
There is suffering in life, and there are defeats. No one can avoid them. But it's better to lose some of the battles in the struggles for your dreams than to be defeated without ever knowing what you're fighting for
..when we finally know we are dying, and all other sentient beings are dying with us, we start to have a burning, almost heartbreaking sense of the fragility and preciousness of each moment and each being, and from this can grow a deep, clear, limitless compassion for all being.
Our job this day is to become part of the answer to the world's immense and protracted suffering rather than continuing our ancient task of being part of the difficulty.
Hugh Prather - Author, minister
When the President starts lying he begins to need evidence to back up his lies because in this democracy he is questioned on his statements. It then percolates down through the bureaucracy that you are helping the Boss if you come up with evidence that is supportive of our public position and you are distinctly unhelpful if you commit to paper statements that might leak to the wrong people.
The effect of that is to poison the flow of information to the President himself and to create a situation where a President can be almost, to use a metaphor, psychotically divorced from the realities in which he is acting.
Daniel Ellsburg to the US Senate on Foreign Relations, May 13, 1970
The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and these are ignorance, superstition and incompetence.
Elbert Hubbard (American editor, publisher and writer, 1856-1915)
Whatever America hopes to bring to pass in the world must first come to pass in the heart of America.
Dwight David Eisenhower (American 34th President (1953-61). 1890-1969)
America did not invent human rights. In a very real sense, it is the other way around. Human rights invented America.
Jimmy Carter (American 39th US President (1977-81). Nobel Prize for Peace in 2002. b.1924)
Nothing is more despicable than respect based on fear.
It is when power is wedded to chronic fear that it becomes formidable.
You see what power is -- holding someone else's fear in your hand and showing it to them!
Be not intimidated... nor suffer yourselves to be wheedled out of your liberties by any pretense of politeness, delicacy, or decency. These, as they are often used, are but three different names for hypocrisy, chicanery and cowardice.
Sophia pitches her tent in the midst of the world . . . This is profoundly good news for persons who are poor, denigrated, oppressed, struggling, victimized, and questing for life and the fullness of life, the majority of whom are women and their dependent children
Elizabeth Johnson, CSJ, She Who Is, 150
The God of life summons us to life; more, to be life givers, especially toward those who lie under the heel of the powers.
The worst sin toward our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them: that's the essence of inhumanity.
George Bernard Shaw
The solidarity which binds all people together as members of a common family makes it impossible for wealthy nations to look with indifference upon the hunger, misery and poverty of other nations whose citizens are unable to enjoy even elementary human rights. The nations of the world are becoming more and more dependent on one another and it will not be possible to preserve a lasting peace so long as glaring economic and social imbalances persist.
John XXIII, Mater et Magistra, #157
Back in 1986, when the Catholic bishops of the United States published a pastoral on the U.S. economy and how it was working or failing to work in our country, we suggested that every time we make decisions, either as individuals but especially in groups, we must always ask three questions: What does it do to the poor? What does it do for the poor? And how do the poor participate? What if we asked those questions when we began to work for public policies in our country?
Bishop Thomas Gumbleton,
And then all that has divided us will merge
And then compassion will be wedded to power
And then softness will come to a world that is harsh and unkind
And then both men and women will be gentle
And then both women and men will be strong
And then no person will be subject to another’s will
And then all will be rich and free and varied
And then the greed of some will give way to the needs of many
And then all will share equally in the Earth’s abundance
And then all will nourish the young
And then all will cherish life’s creatures
And then all will live in harmony with each other and the Earth
And then everywhere will be called Eden once again.
Judy Chicago, The Dinner Party,
E. M. Forster, epigraph to Howard’s End.
The God we worship is a God of history, a God of events in time. Events are made by people and experienced by people. We do not worship a God of scholarship or philosophy, who exists as a set of propositions to be accepted or rejected. What sets the circle in motion is question that arises from our history, from the suffering and pain that make us suspicious of what we have been taught, because what we have been taught has not helped us make sense of our pain.
Richard Cleaver, Know My Name
What if Christians believe that the desire of God is that all human beings – not just one – be Christ-bearers? What if we believe that the Love that (as Dante said) ‘moves the sun and the earth and the stars’ deeply yearns for intimate union with every person, desiring that each one participate in the redemption of the world.
James Nelson, Between Two Gardens
come into our locked rooms
and speak your word of peace.
Set us free to rejoice in our bodies,
the reality of our loving
the integrity of our passion
speak you word of peace
that sees and forgives
our silent and lies and unspoken denials
of all that you have made us
and all that we have chosen to be.
speak your word of judgement
that gives us voices to name the sins of others
holding them accountable
for the rejection sparked by fear
and the distancing disguise as tolerance.
Breath into us
your spirit of forgiveness
loved and loving
forgiven and forgiving
we may be free to speak peace in your name.
After so much hatred, we yearn to love each other, and for this reason we are the enemies of private property and the despisers of law.
The Creator’s Prayer
Who is everywhere?
Honoured is your name
We are borne of your will
Beauty created by your hand
With all beings in this land
Thank you for blessing us
With food for the soul
And forgive us if we do not always appreciate
Or do not forgive those who wrong us
Guide us on the road to inner peace
And protect us from ill-will
Anita Heiss, I’m not racist, but….. A collection of social observations
Faithful and Just God,
We thank you for the opportunity to live
as a vision of justice and hope.
Allow our commitment to what is right encourage others to do the same.
Give us the strength to step away from norms
that hurt, degrade and oppress
and guide us in discovering fresh and faithful ways of being in the world.
Help us to be life givers and not life takers.
Help us to build hope and purpose where there is none
and to stay mindful that regardless of our status and circumstance
we can be the catalyst for change in this world.
Out in Scripture
The moving reading from Wisdom easily debunks the harsh image many people have of the ‘Old Testament’ God. But, this God loves all that exists, and ‘holds nothing …..in abhorrence.’ God loves each person even those others consider loathsome. Imagine the difference it would make if we looked at each person and living things through the lens of God’s love towards us? What difference would it make to our criminal justice system and rehabilitation programs if we took this vision seriously? Would we tolerate the warehousing of people in crowded prisons with minimal rehabilitation programs? or men, women and children be held without having committed any crime in detention centres? or the underfunding of services to people with mental illness or disabilities? or cuts to social security services whilst the military continues to be funded? or allowing the big polluters of our environment to continue whilst our Pacific neighbours suffer the consequences of climate change?
The consequences of this vision are seen in Jesus’ inclusiveness. He went out on a limb for people who were poor, sick, possessed by demons or marginalised. Jesus always sought out the person avoided by others…and those we push to the peripheries. Like Abba, Jesus looked for ‘those of low degree’ (Luke 1:52) to raise up so that they could burst with ‘God-news’. We do not know if Zacchaeus was a ‘sinner’. It is an assumption. He did not admit to dishonesty and Jesus did not accuse him. Again, the gospel subverts conventional wisdom: the sinner—disreputable, inadequate, and incompetent, low life’ – goes home right with God; and the respectable and reputable who have done everything right are challenged at new levels.
This story is intended to convince us not to underestimate the breadth of God’s love or to put limits on God’s power to save. We have the face of an approachable, inviting God who desires the well-being of people. This is the face of God that Pope Francis has been calling us to – the mercy of God; the loving-kindness of God. It is for us and for us to pass on. This story also challenges us to go ‘out on a limb’ in order to meet Jesus and minister to him in those with whom Jesus chooses to identify: the hungry, the homeless, the sick, the imprisoned, victims of injustice and the poor.
Zacchaeus may well be one among many throughout history who have been misjudged, misrepresented and condemned by others. Whilst the crowd misjudged, Jesus looked into a person’s heart. Maybe the crowd was in greater need of forgiveness………like the crowd that almost stoned the woman caught in the act of committing adultery. Could we not add to this list the people in our community who are misjudged, lied about and labeled leading us to justify them being marginalised? Asylum seekers. Unemployed. Gypsies. Dispossess of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The bullying and vilification of young gay (LGBTIQ) people that has led to suicide. Who will speak?? Challenging these attitudes and pursuing justice are not always convenient or conducive to the status quo. Jesus continues to show us that he, and not those who would oppress and exclude, is the final Word on who belongs in Christian community. We have the opportunity to be that vision of justice by extending our care, help and support to those outside of our own communities and comfort.
Zacchaeus’ is called to climb down and join the rest of humanity. In a sense the bystanders were metaphorically also up ‘up the tree’. We are called to come down and be in solidarity with our vulnerable brothers and sisters – all in need of God’s love. Being up a tree can be preferable, safer and more comfortable as we watch the world go by: the world of refugees, people living in poverty; gay people whose rights are still denied; the threats to Indigenous land by nuclear waste dumping; the neglect of people living with mental illness; workers laid off as executives accrue higher salaries; and the earth suffers the effects our heavy footprint. Jesus is calling us to come down to the dusty street; to come down and get involved where we can. Some people think it is possible to remain and keep looking down in safety upon the world passing by. We can compromise or accommodate ourselves to and individualism in society and also in the churches. How often is our church-focus on those who come to church but we do not find out why some (many) no longer come? Some have valued their membership for many years and yet how many church leaders would go and find out what has alienated them? Too much information!! This causes much suffering for people who are neglected and left on the peripheries. Many have suffered because of this. Like the woman before the unjust judge two weeks ago, God does not rest well with injustice.
Jesus bids us, ‘Come out of your tree, for I'm moving in with you today.’ This is liberation today. It is about restoration. When Jesus moves in with us change happens. His sharing of a meal with those considered sinners is not about being soft of sin but being strong on healing and reconciliation. It is not about appearances but about a new consciousness, a new focus. God’s reign is evident in the revolution that happened in Zacchaeus.
God’s power is manifested as mercy and compassion. As we face this week will we be more fully accepting of others? Will we search out and find the ones our world, church, family does not extend a welcome to? Will we seek new and imaginative ways of welcome and hospitality? As we reflect on this, may understand that God's love is present in our world right now, that Jesus is in our midst, and Jesus always welcomes us.
Jesus offers everyone an open door to a new world. The Gospel unveils our situation in order to liberate, heal and reconcile, not condemn. We are offered more than a life of forgiveness; we are offered a life of effective love. We are offered the chance to become ‘Church’ – in our politics, in our religion, in our hearts. People who are often cast as outsiders from whatever marginal group have what they have to offer overlooked or rejected because of their status. The gospel shows us how they can and must not be afraid to seek Jesus outside of the traditional social structures and assemblies. Despite hatred, rejection and degradation they can decide that they no longer care about what people think and follow the just God and seek a vision of justice and equality. They may not be successful but they can shine a light on the world’s evils. They can survive with their humanity intact no matter how they are treated. What Jesus treasures in the despised is their ability to hang on, to survive with a part of their own humanity intact despite the way they have been treated by the world. They show us how to keep going in deep darkness, to be resilient by engagement not by avoidance or disengagement, and how to have hope in mean times. They can be a beacon of hope towards a more just future.