Thirteenth Sunday of the Year

July 2, 2017

National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday

(liturgy notes below)

Suggested formula for recognition of indigenous people and their land.

We respectfully remember the first people that live in our own respective areas and in honouring the memory of the traditional custodians we acknowledge with sorrow the immeasurable suffering caused to them and to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by European colonisation.

We recognise with shame that such suffering still endures to the present generation.

We pray today with faith and hope for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and ourselves that God’s mercy and justice will walk in our lives, our communities and in the heart of our nation.

(Adapted from an acknowledgement used by the Sisters of Mercy, Parramatta)


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 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.

13 to a


First Reading: 2 Kings 4:8-11, 14-16    

Responsorial Psalm: Ps 89:2-3,16-17,18-19

Second Reading: Romans 6:3-4,8-11

Gospel Reading: Matthew 10:37-42

Penitential Rite

  1. When we welcome those who speak in your name, we welcome you. Jesus, have mercy.
  2. When we have quenched the thirst of a disciple of yours, we have given to you. Christ, have mercy.
  3. When we receive the least of our brothers and sisters, we receive you. Jesus, have mercy.

Opening Prayer

God of kindness and care,

Jesus, your Son, welcomes us into your presence

and speaks works of hope and nourishment..

May we be disposed to welcome into our presence those,

known and unknown to us,

who ask for justice , love and integrity.

Prayer over the Gifts

God of kindness and care,
your Son Jesus invites us
to share his table and to be his guests.
May we learn from him
to be hospitable to people
with openness and generosity.

Deliver Us

Deliver us, God of kindness and care,,

from sin and all fear
to witness to your presence amongst people

and to commit ourselves to your work
of justice, integrity and truth.
Fill us with your courage
to stand up for the freedom
and human dignity of our brothers and sisters,
that we may not distort the image of your Son.
Help us to prepare with joy and hope
the full coming among us
of Jesus Christ, our Brother.
R/ For the kingdom...

Prayer for Peace [before Communion]

Christ Jesus,
as the grains of wheat once scattered
have been gathered to become one bread,
you bring us together in your Church and as one people.
Look not on our sins
but may all who eat your body
remain in peace and unity
with you and one another,
that the world may know
that you are the peace between us
and that you are  one with us for ever and ever.

Prayer after Communion

God of kindness and care,
through our sharing in the body and blood of Jesus,

help us to be to those around us
his helping hand,
his smile of welcome,
his voice of encouragement and pardon,
and the face of his love.

General Intercessions

Introduction: Let us pray to our God who welcomes us in Christ that we may always encounter other people as persons loved and cherished. Let us pray: listen to your people, O God.

  • May we appreciate and value the culture and beliefs of the First Peoples of this land on this Sunday of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people, and condemn any threats to their true place on this land and to their human rights, let us pray: Listen to your people, O God.

  • May we, as a nation, increasingly value the social, spiritual and cultural contributions of all people who have come to this land and of the first inhabitants of this land, let us pray: Listen to your people, O God.

  • May the leaders of nations give up the senseless race for arms and set aside their hunger for power in order to seek genuine and lasting peace, especially in Syria, Iran, Palestine, Iraq, Yemen and Afghanistan,  let us pray: Listen to your people, O God.

  • That the leaders of Churches and Governments in this country may be true guides in the way of justice and reconciliation so that God’s reign may be established, let us pray: Listen to your people, O God.

·         May those in authority be open to all without favouritism and make all people aware that they participate in responsibility for the whole People of God, let us pray: Listen to your people, O God.

·         May missionaries welcome the cultural and religious values of the people to whom they are sent and help them discover the Christi who has been present among them, let us pray: Listen to your people, O God.

·         May those who live on the edge of society, those who are homeless, addicted, those who are poor, sick and elderly, the misunderstood, those whose are strangers, may encounter understanding and welcome in people around them, let us pray: Listen to your people, O God.

·         May the Australian community not tolerate within it any form of abuse, injustice, prejudice or discrimination but be openhearted to all, let us pray: R/ Listen to your people, O God.

Concluding Prayer: Loving God, we believe you have heard our prayers. Help us to welcome one another and their differences, that you may welcome us and stay with us for ever. R/ Amen.


July 2 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday   Theme: Anyone who welcomes you, welcomes me

Resources for Sunday Celebration

July 2-9 NAIDOC Week

Further Resources

 True religion affirms the world

and seeks to guide us

into ever deeper experience

 within the world. 

                                                        Alfred North Whitehead.

Ecumenical Prayer for Peace

Loving God,

you are the mother and father of all of us.

We thank you for your creation

and for creating us all in your image and likeness.

According to your will

all people are spiritual beings of infinite worth.

Before you,

every human being has equal rights and equal dignity.

Thank you for sharing our joys and sorrows

by sending Jesus to be our Brother.

We acknowledge that we have disfigured your creation

and failed to care for it.

There is so much pain in the world,

so many people are hurting because of selfishness and greed.

We all share responsibility for the wrongs of the past

and therefore we are all called to create a better future

We know that at times we can be victims,

open our eyes to see the ways in which we are victimizers.

Forgive us for every time we have treated another human being badly

because we saw their difference and were blind to our common humanity.

Open our eyes wide to see the pain of others,

open our ears to listen to the stories of people who have lost hope.

We want to follow your son Jesus,

who was moved by compassion and responded to suffering and injustice.

Set us alight with an undying passion to work for healing

and the peace which is the fruit of struggles for justice.

We know that it is only through listening to you

that we can live out your dream for all people.

Holy God let me not forget that you walk beside us

on the road to wholeness.

Help us to work with you to create a world

in which we live together as brothers and sisters.

Help us to acknowledge to You and one another

our own brokenness and need for healing.
Loving God,

let me too become a wounded healer and a sign of hope.


Fr. Michael Lapsley, SSM Cape Town, South Africa

Be joyful in hope,

 patient in affliction,

faithful in prayer.
Share with God's people

who are in need.
Practice hospitality.
Romans 12

‘Not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die.’
Anne Lamott Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith

‘It is unearned love--the love that goes before, that greets us on the way. It's the help you receive when you have no bright ideas left, when you are empty and desperate and have discovered that your best thinking and most charming charm have failed you. Grace is the light or electricity or juice or breeze that takes you from that isolated place and puts you with others who are as startled and embarrassed and eventually grateful as you are to be there.’
Anne Lamott Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith

‘...most of the time, all you have is the moment, and the imperfect love of the people around you.’
Anne Lamott Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith

Gracious religion will be gentle, because creating a new world is delicate work. It will be humble, since our visions of this new world will often differ. It will be open, seeking common ground, even as it explores our diversity. Finally gracious religion will be compassionate, unwilling to leave anyone behind.                                               

Philip Gulley and James Mulholland If God is Love

‘In a global culture driven by excessive individualism, our tradition proclaims that the person is not only sacred but also social. The Catholic tradition teaches that human beings grow and achieve fulfillment in community.’ 

US Bishops, Sharing Catholic Social Teaching: Challenges and Directions

‘In the Sunday Eucharist, the believing heart opens wide to embrace all aspects of the church. But . . . far from trying to create a narrow 'gift' mentality, St. Paul calls rather for a demanding culture of sharing, to be lived not only among the members of the community itself but in society as a whole.’ 

Pope John Paul II

‘Beginning our discussion of the rights of the human person, we see that everyone has the right to life, to bodily integrity, and to the means which are suitable for the proper development of life; these are primarily food, clothing, shelter, rest, medical care, and finally the necessary social services. Therefore a human being also has the right to security in cases of sickness, inability to work, widowhood, old age, unemployment, or in any other case in which one is deprived of the means of subsistence through no fault of one's own.’

Pope John XXIII, Pacem in Terris, 11

‘In order to rally people, governments need enemies. They want us to be afraid, to hate, so we will rally behind them. And if they do not have a real enemy, they will invent one in order to mobilize us.’

Thich Nhat Hanh,Vietnamese monk, peace activist and writer.

Our country is not the only thing to which we owe our allegiance. It is also owed to justice and to humanity. Patriotism consists not in waving the flag, but in striving that our country shall be righteous as well as strong.                                                                                     

James Bryce

A Prayer
Mother - Father God:

Help us to hear the word and put it into practice.
Let us hear again the challenge of the great prophets.
Let us do what is right and love with enthusiasm.

Sophia – Wisdom: Help us to hear the word and put it into practice.
Help us to discern the way of peace.
Help us to discern the way of right action.

God of heaven and earth: Help us to hear the word and put it into practice.
Let us hear again the stories of our ancestors in faith.
Let us create new stories today – stories of faith in action.

God of peace and justice: Help us to hear the word and put it into practice.
Help us to listen to the world and the cries of those in need.
Help us to respond in solidarity with all those in need.

Holy Spirit: Help us to hear the word and put it into practice.
Fill us with an enthusiasm and joy for what is right and good.
Fill us with virtue that we might do what is good for all.                           

Center of Concern

Some reflections on the readings…….

There are so many seemingly disparate themes that emerge from this week’s readings but what emerges as a common thread is that God’s care, presence and protection is always available to God’s people. Paul tells his hearers that followers of Christ are called to embrace the life that is found in ‘righteousness’. Jesus clarifies this by saying that that this is lived and expressed in receiving, welcoming, and providing hospitality for even the least. And, God’s hospitality for us, and ours for one another in God’s name, defines ‘righteousness’.

A major statement in the gospel today is: 'The person receiving (welcoming) you receives me and the one receiving me receives the one who sent me.'  For Matthew we all share the same commission. We have the capacity to heal and restore and the capacity to disrupt and provoke.  And, the ‘good news’ is disruptive.  Relationships are reordered and kinship and social orders that defined these relationships are defied. Globally, hospitality can seem to make little sense when  we consider how it can be exercised across borders or to whole nations. The readings offer some suggestions. There is the challenge of intervening on behalf of people in our community who are sacrificed on the altars of ignorance, legalism and fear-based religion. This might be suggested for those who use the reading from Genesis today and the story of the sacrifice of Isaac. But even in our faith circles, many people have permitted a rhetoric to get a lot of oxygen that denounces other faiths on the basis of a few extremists.  There is also the call to speak truth to those who would proclaim the status quo and nothing needs to change or can change. But our hospitality must extend to the poor and marginalised where they become part of the conversation. There is the simple hospitality of receiving – accepting, serving and including – all people. We can provide hospitality by refusing to engage in stereotyping, pre-judging and rejecting others in our actions and speech. Hospitality includes refusing to engage in attitudes of exceptionalism, of being above or better than others. We offer hospitality by always being willing to listen, understand and welcome the stranger.

A few weeks ago, I was listening to a late Sunday night program on the radio. A young 23 year old college graduate (Andrew Forsthoefel) was being interviewed about an incredible journey he had embarked on in 2011. By the end of the interview I had already bought the book on Kindle and began reading it.  He had set off with books by Walt Whitman, Rainer Maria Rilke and Kahlil Gibran in his backpack and an eagerness to listen by walking 4000 miles from his back door, along the railway track, across the USA. A sign was attached to his backpack: ‘Walking to listen’. His 11-month reflective journey across America contains many heartfelt encounters with strangers who in one way or another opened their homes to him. Some, of course, even threatened him.  His book is called Walking to Listen: 4,000 Miles Across America, One Story at a Time. He writes about the uncertainties, melodramas, ambiguities, and loneliness of youth while describing his trip, reaching out to strangers as he meets widowers, waitresses, ranchers, veterans, religious leaders, mystics, glass blowers, delusional walkers, firefighters, Navajo drummers, artists, new fathers, and families. They shared their rich and varied perspectives on life. In the hospitality of listening he offered he in turn received hospitality in terms of food, logging, and more importantly, a hospitality of the heart. Maybe, he discovered a deeper presence below the surface of suffering and in the poor in those he met, as well as discovering that deeper presence in himself. 

Matthew emphasises the prophet's reward.  Welcoming/supporting 'the prophet' warrants the same reward.  Then he refers to the 'little ones'.  Caring is also ministry. These three verses are set side by side: welcoming Christ, supporting ministry, and caring for one another. This passage echoes Jesus’ final speech in Matthew 25 in the last judgement [the sheep and goats]. Fundamentally, caring for people in need (and not just those in our community or family) stands on the same level as our response to Christ.  Your response to me is your response to God.  Here it finds a radical answer. Matthew 10 says that no one is excluded.  It is inclusive. We are all involved in God's life and world.

Paul's message seems tough and he always seems to blow any chance of drawing a big Hillsong-kind of crowd of ecstatic followers. His call is a wake-up call. ‘Are you not aware that we who were baptised into Christ Jesus, were baptised into his death?’  Our baptism and its recommitment at Eucharist call us to something different: to die to the values of friends and family; spend one’s energies for what is right, even if unpopular; to stick my neck out to heal a strained family relationship; to stand up at a meeting and defend the rights of undocumented people or those without property; to be the first to say, ‘Of course I forgive you’. In a word, it is going again and again to the peripheries and finding there, as Pope Francis has often reminded us, that it is on the peripheries with reall face to face people that we find the heart or centre of our mission

Baptism must make a difference in our lives: dying with Christ and receiving 'new life' must involve eventually seeing our lives differently; of not measuring the success or failure of our lives by our more prosperous or comfortable neighbours but using Jesus' life as our yardstick; of not measuring our lives by how clever we can be or how many honours we receive on the Queen’s Birthday; that God has brought life out of death; seeing what is sacrificial for the good of others and serves the needs of the poor, opens us to receive a new life unobtainable on our own.  We discover a deeper presence below the surface of suffering and in the poor.  Where we draw a dead end, God breaks through offering life and a new beginning.  Baptism is not a once and for all dying.  We face many deaths daily: dying to our narrow vision or narrow-mindedness; broadening our tent pegs where many and diverse people are included in our lives; opening our hearts and minds to Jesus' way of seeing others.

Jesus was, and still is, talking about what happens when people take the gospel seriously as a way of life.  Martin Luther King Jr. used to say that the Peace of God is not the absence of conflict but the presence of justice. This is not just about where we stand on issues or where we sit but who we sit with.  Church people judge speaking out on justice and peace issues as ‘whinging’. Too often the churches could be seen to function as branches of the public service!!

Paul refers to the suffering and death that may come our way as a result of living out our Baptism on a daily basis.  There are those who will try to hold us back, to be reasonable, to be sensible, to be practical, to be relevant, to be politically savvy and wait.  There are always those who will say the time for justice is something to talk slowly and ‘tread carefully’.

All of us suffer to some extent. I cannot say that I have suffered that much. The little that has come my way might have seemed unbearable at the time, but on prayerful reflection nothing like the crimes committed against women by society, in the church and in family, against people of other ethnic groups and asylum seekers, against gay people who dared to be true to themselves in freedom.

Repentance is our church name for change, and love means always being willing to say, ‘I'm sorry.’   Discipleship means being willing to die to oneself, and changing our hearts and minds is always a little death.  Jesus saw that when a person's analysis of relationship changes, when the world is turned upside down, when the self opts for new birth to a new society,  there will be trouble with family and friends who have not taken the option.  Many will not be able to handle the shocking rejection of the old, the frightening embrace of the new.

Matthew continues to emphasize Jesus' love of the Reign of God over all else-including personal comfort and safety. Precisely because this way of being in the world (in solidarity with all, even at the cost of one's own life) cannot co-exist with the ‘normal’ way of doing business – whether that is literally a business or way of leadership or operating an organisation. This could be crucifiable language. Jesus profoundly challenges the established moral order.   The sacredness of God's will is above the most wide-ranging of social arrangements - and is likely to cause conflict as it challenges our most basic sense of human relationships.

We heard Jesus’ warning, ‘Do not think that I have come to bring peace, but a sword.  I have come to set a son against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law, and one’s foes shall be those of their own household.  Whoever loves father (clan, tribe, family or nation, or denomination) or mother more than me is not worthy of me.’  This is not a call to sever the umbilical cord. This has nothing to do with quarrels over how late you may stay out at night, who gets to use the car or what movie to view on TV.  Faithfulness to Jesus creates a new family, new friendships, and a new solidarity.

The seemingly benign ‘option for the poor’ questions the basic way we negotiate and order the world. By choosing the sick and demon-possessed, Jesus has moved them from the ones most judged to that of judge.  Without any disclaimers, Jesus warns that the way in which one responds to his mediators will testify to the way one receives him. The ‘reward’ one receives is a kind of by-product of one's receptivity to those people and situations that represent the good news of Jesus. Hospitality was a matter of life and death.  It was one of the chief responsibilities of a caring and God-like people.  The stranger, the outsider and the traveler - anyone outside of his own territory - was to be regarded as a person in need of special care.  [Cf. Lev 19:33-34].  In political society today there seems to be the view that once people get scared, we need to keep them scared.  We keep hearing that Australia is on a list of targets for international terrorism.  This, and the fear of being ‘overrun’ by refugees, caused us some years ago to exclude 100's of Australian islands from our immigration exclusion zone. Hundreds of Australian islands were declared to be not part of Australia at all.

The spiral of fear is an old psychological trap. When fear hits us, our desire for security becomes more obsessive and our natural sense of freedom and justice wanes.  These fears are open to exploitation by politicians and sometimes churchmen [there are no women] who sniff the power they can have if they can reinforce those fears whilst appearing to allay them.  What better way to address those fears than by demonising certain groups of people: Middle Eastern people threaten our security; gay and lesbian people threaten family values; and the list goes on. But the message today, is to trust in God’s welcome to us. God’s love for us. And to embody that in our reaching out to those on the margins of society as well as those on the margins in our families and communities.  Death to sin is death to selfishness, is death to our inability to welcome others.