- Published: Sunday, 12 February 2017 17:37
LITURGY NOTES FOR THE SEVENTH SUNDAY OF THE YEAR CYCLE A
Claude Mostowik MSC
Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A
February 19, 2017
Suggested formula for recognition of indigenous people and their land.
We acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we gather.
We pay our respects to them and for their care of the land.
May we walk gently and respectfully upon the land.
I acknowledge the living culture of the ……..people,
the traditional custodians of the land we stand on,
and pay tribute to the unique role they play in the life of this region.
We acknowledge the traditional custodians and occupiers of the land where we are now gathered, (the Gadigal people of the great Eora nation,) 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.
First Reading: Leviticus 19:1-2, 17-18
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 103:1-2, 3-4, 8, 10, 12-13 R./ The Lord is kind and merciful.
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 3:16-23
Gospel Reading: Matthew 5:38-48
· Christ Jesus, teach us to forgive those who have harmed us. Jesus, have mercy.
· Christ Jesus, show us how we can be good to those who have wounded us. Christ, have mercy.
· Christ Jesus, show us how we have pained and injured others. Jesus, have mercy.
God of tenderness,
in Jesus, your Son,
you have shown us your tenderness
and embrace us as your sons and daughters.
Reveal you heart within us,
so that we may be merciful and understanding
and to accept everyone without condition
as you have accepted us.
God of tenderness,
in Jesus you challenge us
to renounce violence and forsake revenge.
Teach us to recognise even our enemies
as your sons and daughters
and to love them without measure or discrimination.
Introduction Let us pray to God who is kind and merciful to all people, the deserving and underserving, so that we imitate God’s all-embracing love. Let us pray: R/ Show your loving kindness to your people, O God
· For the Church, God's people, that it may not be divided into factions: that it may preach and practice forgiveness, healing and rehabilitation, let us pray: R/ Show your loving kindness to your people, O God
· For the Churches separated from one another by centuries of misunderstanding and disputes, that they may approach one another in Christ in mutual forgiveness, cooperation and love, let us pray: R/ Show your loving kindness to your people, O God
· For children that have been institutionally abused by those who should have cared for them, that their stories be heard from their point of view so that may receive a fair hearing and receive justice, R/ Show your loving kindness to your people, O God
· For all of us, that we may forgive one another from the heart, seek no revenge, bear no grudges, learn to see others as people loved by the same God, let us pray: R/ Show your loving kindness to your people, O God
· For those who have hurt us in any way, and whom we find difficult to love, let us pray: R/ Show your loving kindness to your people, O God
· For countries and people who carry a historical memory of pain, suffering and conflict, may they seek to address these issues and seek peace, let us pray: R/ Show your loving kindness to your people, O God
· For our families, that we may not be discouraged by one another's shortcomings but be attentive to the goodness that is in each and seek peace and happiness together, let us pray: R/ Show your loving kindness to your people, O God
· For our Christian communities, that they may be places of reconciliation, of mercy and compassion, let us pray: R/ Show your loving kindness to your people, O God.
· For communities and peoples who are still consumed by hatred and violence, that they listen to the their hearts and the voices of the other to seek reconciliation and peace, let us pray: R/ Show your loving kindness to your people, O God
Prayer Merciful God, fill our hearts with your love and help us to look at one another with your own eyes. May we rise above our human weakness and keep faithful in loving you and loving one another.
Prayer Over the Gifts
God of tenderness,
we bring before you these gifts of peace
to celebrate the feast of love of your Son.
May we discover his presence within us
and to create one another anew
with the same liberating and forgiving love
which you have shown us.
Prayer After Communion
God of tenderness,
may this celebration with your Son
bring us peace to share with one another.
May his words and life teach us
to forgive one another wholeheartedly.
Rally and March
April 9, 2017 – 2.00pm
Hyde Park North, Sydney
Bring banners, flags and posters for your groups
Further details will be provided in the coming weeks.
We are called to be instruments of God, so that our planet might be what he desired when he created it and correspond with his plan for peace, beauty and fullness.
Pope Francis, Laudato Sí, 53
Every ecological approach needs to incorporate a social perspective which takes into account the fundamental rights of the poor and the underprivileged.
Pope Francis, Laudato Sí, 93
Wars shatter so many lives. I think especially of children robbed of their childhood.
Pope Francis, 18 January 2014
Peace is the outcome of a long and demanding battle which is only won when evil is defeated by good.
Pope John Paul II, 1 January 2005
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, 27
Love for others, and in the first place love for the poor, in whom the Church sees Christ himself, is made concrete in the promotion of justice. Justice will never be fully attained unless people see in the poor person, who is asking for help in order to survive, not an annoyance or a burden, but an opportunity for showing kindness and a chance for greater enrichment. Only such an awareness can give the courage needed to face the risk and the change involved in every authentic attempt to come to the aid of another. It is not merely a matter of "giving from one's surplus", but of helping entire peoples which are presently excluded or marginalized to enter into the sphere of economic and human development. For this to happen, it is not enough to draw on the surplus goods which in fact our world abundantly produces; it requires above all a change of life-styles, of models of production and consumption, and of the established structures of power which today govern societies.
Pope John Paul II, Centesimus Annus, 58
May nonviolence become the hallmark of our decisions, our relationships and our actions, and indeed of political life in all its forms.
Pope Francis, Message for World Day of Prayer for Peace 1 January 2017
"And so long as you haven't experienced this:
To die and so to grow,
You are only a troubled guest on the dark earth."
Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
"If your everyday practice is to open to all your emotions, and to all the people you meet,
to all the situations you encounter, without closing down, trusting that you can do that – then that will take you as far as you can go. And then you will understand all the teaching that anyone has ever taught."
"Lo ho quel che ho donato – I have what I have given"
"Nothing lasting can be built without a desire by people to live differently and exemplify the changes that they want to see in society."
Great God, who has told us
"Vengeance is mine,"
save us from ourselves,
save us from the vengeance in our hearts
and the acid in our souls.
Save us from our desire to hurt as we have been hurt,
to punish as we have been punished,
to terrorize as we have been terrorized.
Give us the strength it takes
to listen rather than to judge,
to trust rather than to fear,
to try again and again
to make peace even when peace eludes us.
We ask, O God, for the grace
to be our best selves.
We ask for the vision
to be builders of the human community
rather than its destroyers.
We ask for the humility as a people
to understand the fears and hopes of other peoples.
We ask for the love it takes
to bequeath to the children of the world to come
more than the failures of our own making.
We ask for the heart it takes
to care for all the peoples
of Afghanistan and Iraq, of Palestine and Israel
as well as for ourselves.
Give us the depth of soul, O God,
to constrain our might,
to resist the temptations of power
to refuse to attack the attackable,
that vengeance begets violence,
and to bring peace--not war--wherever we go.
For You, O God, have been merciful to us.
For You, O God, have been patient with us.
For You, O God, have been gracious to us.
And so may we be merciful
with these others whom you also love.
This we ask through Jesus,
the one without vengeance in his heart.
This we ask forever and ever. Amen
prayer for world peace
Sister Joan Chittister osb (Benedictine sisters of Erie)
On the day when
the weight deadens
on your shoulders
and you stumble,
may the clay dance
to balance you.
And when your eyes
the grey window
and the ghost of loss
gets in to you,
may a flock of colours,
indigo, red, green,
and azure blue
come to awaken in you
a meadow of delight.
When the canvas frays
in the currach of thought
and a stain of ocean
blackens beneath you,
may there come across the waters
a path of yellow moonlight
to bring you safely home.
May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
may the clarity of light be yours,
may the fluency of the ocean be yours,
may the protection of the ancestors be yours.
And so may a slow
wind work these words
of love around you,
an invisible cloak
to mind your life.
John O'Donohue Beannacht from Anam Cara © 1997.
Refuse to fall down.
If you cannot refuse to fall down,
refuse to stay down.
If you cannot refuse to stay down
lift your heart toward heaven
and like a hungry beggar,
ask that it be filled,
and it will be filled.
You may be pushed down.
You may be kept from rising.
But no one can keep you
from lifting your heart
toward heaven —
It is in the midst of misery
that so much becomes clear.
The one who says nothing good
came of this,
is not yet listening.
refuse to fall down
Clarissa Pinkola Estés
Reflections on the readings
Some years ago a Clint Eastwood movie called Unforgiven was released and has been shown on TV a number of times. The theme, like in many movies, is that of a wronged person or group exacting revenge on ‘evil’ perpetrators. The vengeance exacted on the villains is limitless because ‘they have it coming.’ It is easy to forget about moral considerations as we share in the reverie of personal payback. The desire for revenge because of hurt done to oneself or to loved ones can be strong. This is the violence we view each day in the form of foreign invasion, armed or drone attacks on perceived and real enemies or even in the case of mandatory sentencing of offenders in the community. We use social media as a weapon and rejection against people we disagree with, those ‘conservatives’ or ‘lefties’, people of other religions or sexual orientation. As long as we do this, we fall short of God’s holiness and we inflict ‘death’ on each other.
Jesus teaches what ‘perfection’ or ‘holiness’ is to be like – compassionate and non-violent, refusing to retaliate when harmed, and seeking the best even for those who consider us to be their enemies. Clearly, holiness is not about avoiding things, but doing things that make a difference and transform. It is all about social justice, non-violence and community, and as Paul suggests, hospitality.
Many people would have welcomed Jesus' call to love God and neighbour but they may have understood neighbour as outlined by Moses. The love called for was reserved for fellow Israelites or one’s kin. Jesus broadens this to include everyone, Jews and Gentiles, friends and enemies. This could be seen as going overboard or extreme. But, he could not be clearer: there is no virtue in just cheering for your own team, in loving those who are like you and love you. It must consist in loving the enemy. Sticking to your own kind was not a value Jesus embraced. That is why there is always the call to go out to the peripheries, to the ‘not like me’. Though this does not always occur in ‘the real world,’ we must also ask where has violence or retribution got us? What has it or does it achieve? Maybe that is Jesus’ point - do the unexpected to break down conflict and create the possibilities for a relationship, to recognise the humanity even in the enemy. The call is to ‘flip the script’ as one writer wrote recently. An industry of images exists to make the ‘enemy’ look inhuman and to incite our hate. It is part of all conflicts where cartoons of Germans, Japanese, Russians, Middle Eastern or Asian people turn their human faces into the faces of dumb or malevolent beasts.
In April 2016, I attended a conference co-hosted by the Vatican’s then Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and Pax Christi International on the call to the church to come back to educating itself and living the gospel of nonviolence. This unprecedented and ground-breaking conference was challenging 1600 years of church doctrine of ‘the just war’ and called for a move towards ‘just peace’. The ‘just war’ doctrine, though devised to limit war, came to justify war and none of its conditions are fulfilled as we saw in the invasion of Iraq as just one example.
Most of the conference participants had come from places of extreme violence in Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, Asia and also Croatia, after the savage war there. All had suffered violence in some way or seen their loved ones tortured, imprisoned, and/or murdered. Yet, all were still committed to the gospel of nonviolence as a means towards reconciliation and peace. These were the experts on nonviolence who had embraced Jesus’ call to love even one’s enemy. The nonviolent God loves even those who seek to destroy God. A child of God will not introduce hatred or anyone’s destruction into the world.
Love of enemies is not an appendage or something tacked onto Jesus’ teaching. It was part and parcel of the call to ‘perfection’. It means taking a new attitude towards the enemy because God wants hatred and destructive violence eliminated from the world. Anyone who is like God will not nourish hatred against anybody. They will seek the welfare of all, even their enemies.
Love of enemy does not mean having feelings of affection, sympathy, or fondness towards those who harm others or ourselves. It's natural for us to feel wounded and humiliated. We are to worry when we go on nourishing hate and the thirst for revenge. Loving one’s enemy involves not doing wrong or seeking or wanting to harm the other. It is not merely avoiding evil towards the other, but actually being ready to do good if the other is found to be in need. Our humanity is bound up more with forgiveness than in taking revenge.
Last week we heard Jesus say, ‘You have heard it said… but I say to you…’ He repeats that today and begs us to pay attention to the deeper meaning of the Law though ‘an eye for an eye’ and ‘love your neighbours and hate your enemies’ are probably more preferable to our sensibilities and our need for a quick sense of justice as already mentioned earlier. Rivalry, revenge, hatred, making people pay back for any hurt are the usual ways of our world. Jesus offers a radical new way of seeing the Law. Instead of force or violence to overcome evil Jesus suggests mercy, forgiveness, prayer and love for the ones who have hurt you. Jesus’ message shows us how to be makers and sowers of peace by changing conflict into opportunities for peace, reconciliation and forgiveness to participate in creating a world without violence. Force and coercion cannot achieve the milieu Jesus has in mind when speaking of God’s reign in our midst. Paul offers the profound reason for loving and respecting one another: we are the temple (dwelling place) of God. Recently, a man whose daughter had been murdered sought, after some time of hatred and pain, to seek out the murderer and be reconciled with him when he realised that his hatred was not poisoning the other but poisoning himself.
Jesus is not suggesting passivity, but to make a response to defuse violence. By imagining a non-violent world and then putting his teachings into action, we will probably feel like exiles in our own land especially when we attempt to include when others call for exclusion; when we attempt to call for compassion rather than vengeance; when we want to welcome the stranger where others want them rejected. But at this moment I struggle to find in an enemy in my life. Could it be the neighbour or the fellow traveller on the railway station whose smoking irritates the lungs of the people around me? Could it be the person I live with who seems lacking in awareness, manners or consideration? Could it be those people in power (religious or political or corporate) whose dominating, misogynist or homophobic rhetoric builds up structures that threaten vulnerable people? Are these the enemy or is it the enemy within me? Is it both? Though one might want to be an advocate for those who are trapped in the crucifying realities of death, we need to recognise that we are also the enemy because we benefit from this system of discrimination and exceptionalism where people are seen as less than human and more as ghosts because of their of race, gender, sexual orientation or social position. Though I am unsure about my enemy, I know that there are many people who are not protected: those expelled from society because of their social situation and living in homelessness or with some addiction or mental illness; those living in terrifying situations of domestic violence; the people living under the worsening situation in Syria as this proud nation is torn apart by hatred, rivalry, murder and the lust for power. The enemies Jesus would have had in mind are still abundant in our world. They might be in our community or neighbourhood. Not being so sure who my enemy, I ask how I can interpret Jesus’ command for other people? How do we promote self-sacrifice for people who have already sacrificed much? How does one talk about forgiving a perpetrator when one has been abused, violated or assaulted? How does one tell a victim of hatred that they are to love the one who hates them? How does one tell peasant or indigenous people to love the soldiers in the Philippines move them from their land, or rape and kill with impunity. All we can do is see ourselves and the other as a work in progress with God at work within us. The call to be perfect, to be holy, is expansive. It can accommodate the paradox of loving amidst hate where people can find themselves on both sides of the equation, yet knowing that all the time we are loved, interrogated and moving towards perfection in compassion, love, mercy and hospitality.
In a TV program in 2005, (http://www.abc.net.au/tv/enoughrope/transcripts/s1453904.htm Andrew Denton in Enough Rope), Johnny Lee Clary a former Ku Klux Klan (KKK) leader was interviewed about his journey from a world of hate to one of tolerance. He was taught about prejudice, racism and bigotry by his father in a society where a non-white person was the exception. An uncle introduced him to the KKK. When his father shot himself, his mother abandoned Johnny and his sister because her new partner did not want them around. This made the teenager a perfect recruit for the KKK. He was told by teachers that he was an ignorant little hoodlum who would go to jail. Seeking acceptance, he joined the KKK. His tasks were to sniff out racial trouble and by inciting fear got the white people to further stereotype black people. He was petrol that added to the flames of racial strife.
At 21, he became the Grand Dragon of Oklahoma. So, even police members of the KKK called him ‘Sir’. In 1979, at age 22, he met a black minister, Reverend Wade Watts. He was caught off guard when the minister unexpectedly held out his hand. Johnny shook the minister’s hand without thinking. The Klan rule book says, ‘The physical touch of a non-white is pollution.’ When Johnny looked at this hand after shaking hands, the minister said, ‘Don't worry, Johnny. It don't come off.’ When verbally abused, the minister responded, ‘God bless you, Johnny. You can't do enough to me to make me hate you. I'm gonna love you and I'm gonna pray for you, whether you like it or not.’ A few years later Johnny burned down the minister’s church. He threw rubbish over his lawn. When they burned across the street, the minister came out offering hotdogs and marshmallows for the barbeque. He could not deal with the positive responses he received. Sometime later, when the minister entered a restaurant, 30 KKK members also entered and surrounded the minister. They said they would do to him what he was about to do to the chicken that was on his plate. Looking up, he picked up the chicken and kissed it. This caused much laughter even among his comrades. The KKK was defeated by an elderly man. Some years later Johnny left the clan and exchanged one powerful set of beliefs for another. He too had ‘flipped the script’. He concluded the TV interview saying, ‘I feel like I belong to the human race’. I could do something that's gonna make a difference…..’ He had also become a minister.
What might our world look like if we worked harder at loving our enemies than we do at killing them? What might it mean if we measured holiness not by church attendance or avoiding wrong but rather by the extent to which we extend compassion and justice to others?