- Published: Thursday, 26 October 2017 16:20
LITURGY NOTES FOR THE 30th SUNDAY OF THE YEAR.
Thirtieth Sunday of the Year
October 29th 2017
Suggested formula for recognition of indigenous people and their land.
We acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we stand
We pay our respects to them 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.
As we gather today let us acknowledge the local traditional custodians of this land,
and the first people that live in our own respective areas
.........for they have performed age-old ceremonies
of storytelling, music, dance, celebrations and renewal
and along with all Aboriginal people,
hold the memories, the traditions, the culture and hopes of Aboriginal Australia.
We acknowledge this living culture and its unique role in the life of Australia today
and acknowledge with honour and respect our Elders
past, present and future and pay our respects to those who have,
and still do, guide us with their wisdom.
Finally, we acknowledge with shame that much 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
‘We have passed beyond the imaginable limits of violence.
Can we pass equally beyond the imaginable limits of non-violence?’
‘Give peace a chance.’
- John Lennon
First Reading: Exodus 22:20-26
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 18:2-3, 3-4, 47, 51
Second Reading: 1 Thessalonians 1:5c-10
Gospel: Matthew 22:34-40
Whispers of Love and Justice
In the noise of ideologies and agendas,
you gently whisper, O God;
In the cacophony of rhetoric and propaganda,
you gently whisper, O God;
In the madness of war, the chaos of power-games;
the crying of grief, the discordance of disease,
the crowding of poverty, the empty echo of wealthy isolation,
you whisper your words of love
to every broken heart,
you breathe your call of justice
to every heartless tyrant.
And we who have heard the gentle rhythm of your voice,
praise you for your quiet proclamation of grace,
and thank you for your gentle presence among us;
even as we offer ourselves to be quiet voices and muted lives
proclaiming in every moment
your whispers of love and justice.
John Laar, Sacredise
§ Where is the love when we use the gifts our planet gives us with little care for our wastefulness and destruction. Jesus, have mercy
§ Where is the love when we deny and disdain truths and practices that others hold dear. Christ, have mercy
§ Where is the love when we ignore the sickness, the loneliness, the struggle and the vulnerability of others, because it doesn’t affect us. Jesus, have mercy.
- Jesus, you came to call all nations into the realm of God's love. Jesus, have mercy.
- Jesus you came to us in separate ways and through many different people. Christ, have mercy.
- Jesus, you came to love and nurture us as individuals and as nations especially in times of trauma. Jesus, have mercy.
§ The child in going through the garbage was you and we did not notice. Jesus, have mercy.
§ The frightened and threatened migrants living among us was you and we did not make them welcome. Christ, have mercy.
§ The family down the street that failed to repay its debts is you but it was too difficult to care. Jesus, have mercy.
in the human heart of Jesus
you reveal the extent of your love.
Give us a love that shows itself
in forgiveness, generosity, compassion and gentleness
that we may recognize and welcome Jesus
in our brothers and sisters.
May our hearts reach out first
to the poorest and the least considered,
with the gratuitous love you have given us.
Prayer of the Faithful
Introduction: Let us pray to the God of compassion who listens to the cries of the poor and the oppressed. The response is: May we be instruments of your love, O God.
We pray for all those in our world who are suffering from injustice: We pray: May we be instruments of your love, O God.
We pray for our sisters and brothers around the world who are victims of violence: the people of Iraq, Syria, the Kurds, Bahrain, Christian minorities in the Middle East, Tibet, Gaza and the other parts of Palestine: We pray: May we be instruments of your love, O God.
We pray for those who are discriminated against because of their race, colour, sexual orientation or religion: We pray: May we be instruments of your love, O God.
We pray for those imprisoned for working to overcome injustice and oppression: We pray: May we be instruments of your love, O God.
We pray for those who are persecuted for speaking the inconvenient truth: We pray: May we be instruments of your love, O God.
We pray for those tempted to violence as a cry against overwhelming hardship: We pray: May we be instruments of your love, O God.
We pray for those deprived of reasonable health and education: We pray: May we be instruments of your love, O God.
We pray for those suffering from hunger, famine and crippling debts: We pray: May we be instruments of your love, O God.
We pray for asylum seekers who suffer mental and physical damage and whose lives have been put on hold because of draconian government policies: We pray: May we be instruments of your love, O God.
We pray for the unemployed who cry out for work but are unable to find it: We pray: May we be instruments of your love, O God.
We pray that the church will be more and more a community in dialogue with those at its doors and respond compassionately to the poorest amongst us: We pray: May we be instruments of your love, O God.
We pray that as we are called to make an option for the poor that we acknowledge that women are among the poorest of the poor throughout the world: We pray: May we be instruments of your love, O God.
We pray that political leaders, political systems and governing powers not become excuses for losing sight of the common virtues of compassion and love that should be the ultimate yardstick by which we seek to measure all our actions: We pray: May we be instruments of your love, O God.
We pray that we all recall the value of every human in their various ways, and that seek to always act in ways that uphold the full dignity and value of the human person: We pray: May we be instruments of your love, O God.
We pray that that the suspicion and hatred evident in the hearts of Buddhist and Muslim people in Myanmar give way to compassion and understanding so that all parties involved in the current tragedy choose the path of dialogue, deep listening and sharing, over violence and hatred to be the guide to a resolution of the plight of the Rohingya people: We pray: May we be instruments of your love, O God.
We pray for all the parties in the conflict in Myanmar that it may not be fueled by arms sales, and other financially motivated support, and that Australia and other countries in the region recognise the suffering to which they contribute and support by support to the regime and silence in the face of atrocities: We pray: May we be instruments of your love, O God.
We pray that our religious communities in particular listen with empathy to the voices of women, Indigenous people, LGBTIQ people, youth so that great understanding of their questions may be understood and appreciated before making pronouncements and judgements: We pray: May we be instruments of your love, O God.
Concluding Prayer: God of love and compassion, hear our prayers and give us the strength and courage to live compassionately and justly.
Prayer over the Gifts
in this Eucharist we remember
the self-giving of Jesus unto death.
May our love be creative,
so that we too may not break the crushed reed
nor put out the smoldering wick
but enable the weak to rise up
as we sustain one another in hope.
Prayer after Communion
you have satisfied our hunger for love
by giving us your Son Jesus Christ.
May we never exclude, stereotype
or send anyone away empty.
Help us to build bridges rather than walls
as we risk loving and making you
more and more visible in our world.
‘Love, like truth and beauty, is concrete. Love is not fundamentally a sweet feeling; not at heart, a matter of sentiment, ….. [but]… active, effective, a matter of making reciprocal and mutually beneficial relation with one’s friends and enemies…. To make love is to make justice. As advocates and activists for justice know, loving involves struggle, resistance, and risk. People working today on behalf of women, blacks, lesbians and gay men, the aging, the poor in this country and elsewhere know that making justice is not a warm, fuzzy experience………Love is a conversion to humanity - a willingness to participate with others in the healing of a broken world and broken lives. Love is the choice to experience life as a member of the human family, a partner in the dance of life, rather than as an alien in the world or as a deity above the world, aloof and apart from human flesh.’
On any social measure of health and well-being, Indigenous people, my people, are hugely over-represented at the wrong end of the scale. No matter whether you look at life expectancy, health profiles, custody figures, educational outcomes, unemployment, substance abuse, domestic violence, suicide – you name it – the trend is the same.
Professor Lowitja O’Donoghue, At the Cross Roads: Living in a world of change, Address to the National Council of Churches in Australia Triennial Forum, 11 July 2004.
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.
Pope John Paul II, Centesimus Annus
Love of neighbor is an absolute demand for justice,
because charity must manifest itself in actions and structures
which respect human dignity,
protect human rights,
and facilitate human development.
To promote justice is to transform structures which block love.
1971 Synod of Bishops, Justice in the World
In teaching us charity, the Gospel instructs us in the preferential respect due to the poor and the special situation they have in society: the more fortunate should renounce some of their rights so as to place their goods more generously at the service of others.
Pope Paul VI, Call to Action, #23
The church ... cannot be content to play the part of a nurse looking after the casualties of the system. It must play an active part both in challenging the present unjust structures and in pioneering alternatives.
No one could tell me what my soul might be; I searched for God and God eluded me; I sought out my brothers and my sisters and I found all three — my soul, my God and all humanity’
Unnamed Persian poet
Selfishness ... feeds an insatiable hunger that first eats up everything belonging to others and then causes a creature to devour itself.
Dom Helder Camara
He is a wise (man)
who does not grieve
for the things which (he) has not,
but rejoices for those which (he) has.
Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted;
the indifference of those who should have known better;
the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most;
that has made it possible for evil to triumph.
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.
The dissenter is every human being at those moments of [his] life when he resigns momentarily from the herd and thinks for himself [or herself].
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.
And a vast paranoia sweeps across the land
And America turns the attack on its Twin Towers
Into the beginning of the Third World War
The war with the Third World
And the terrorists in Washington
Are drafting all the young men
And no one speaks
And they are rousting out
All the ones with turbans
And they are flushing out
All the strange immigrants
And they are shipping all the young men
To the killing fields again
And no one speaks
And when they come to round up
All the great writers and poets and painters
The National Endowment of the Arts of Complacency
Will not speak
While all the young men
Will be killing all the young men
In the killing fields again
So now is the time for you to speak
All you lovers of liberty
All you lovers of the pursuit of happiness
All you lovers and sleepers
Deep in your private dreams
Now is the time for you to speak
O silent majority
Before they come for you
Prayer for Leadership
Joan D. Chittister, OSB
Give us, O God,
leaders whose hearts are large enough
to match the breadth of our own souls
and give us souls strong enough
to follow leaders of vision and wisdom.
In seeking a leader,
let us seek more than development
for ourselves —
though development we hope for —
more than security for our own land —
though security we need —
more than satisfaction for our wants —
though many things we desire.
Give us the hearts to choose
the leader who will work with other
leaders to bring safety
to the whole world.
Give us leaders
who lead this nation to virtue
without seeking to impose our kind of virtue
on the virtue of others.
Give us a government
that provides for the advancement
of this country
without taking resources from others
to achieve it.
Give us insight enough ourselves
to choose as leaders those who can tell
strength from power,
growth from greed,
leadership from dominance,
and real greatness from the trappings
We trust you, Great God,
to open our hearts to learn from those
to whom you speak in different tongues
and to respect the life and words
of those to whom you entrusted
the good of other parts of this globe.
We beg you, Great God,
give us the vision as a people
to know where global leadership truly lies,
to pursue it diligently,
to require it to protect human rights
for everyone everywhere.
We ask these things, Great God,
with minds open to your word
and hearts that trust in your eternal care.
Fellowship of Reconciliation.
Prayer for Charity and a Preferential Option for the Poor
Poor ones, please take the bread. It is yours.
The house with running water belongs to you.
A plot of land, a dignified job - all yours.
Forgive me for offering it.
Charity is no substitute for justice but your children are hungry now.
Spirit of Justice, break open our hearts.
Break them wide open
Let anger pour through
like strong winds
cleaning us of complacency,
Let courage pour through
like spring storms
flooding out fear.
Let zeal pour through
like blazing summer sun,
filling us with passion.
Force of Justice, grant me
anger at what is,
courage to do what must be done,
passion to break down the walls
and build a land flowing
with milk and honey
for God's beloved,
God's special love,
God's Poor Ones.
Spirit of Justice
break open our hearts.
Mary Lou Kownacki, OSB
Reflections on the readings…..
Jesus today clearly affirms the centrality of both love of God and our neighbor in our lives. The lessons today are probably the most important that we hear at any time. Yet, we need to ask what is the source of so much fear of diversity that causes us to establish symbolic and real walls. We need to ask how people who consider themselves Christians could, after listening to today’s reading, still justify actions that are bigoted, racist or homophobic.
Alfred North Whitehead, a key person in Process Philosophy, wrote ‘We are attuned to coordinates wider than personality’. This is behind Jesus’ commandment to love our neighbours as ourselves. We need to appreciate our own worth, that we are truly loved by God and that our existence is woven into the life force of the rest of creation. It is God’s enduring love – knitted into all living things – that created, and continues to create, sustains, heals and binds us to one another. It is in losing touch with this connection that fear and distrust emerge. But we are constantly reminded of the interconnectedness of all beings within creation. To be fully human, we must extend our coordinates beyond our selves as Whitehead said; to enlarge the boundaries of our lives. This makes it possible to a gut-wrenching response to famine in Africa, a disaster in Indonesia or Japan, the tragic movement of people around the world and in our regions with the Rohingya people, the ongoing detention of asylum seekers in Australia, and even to see the image of God in a perceived enemy. To be untouched by any of these leaves us diminished as human beings.
Beyond our personalities, our first external coordinate is our neighbour. Our lives are enlarged and enriched by everyone we care for, take an interest in - indeed love intentionally. To love God and neighbour is to enlarge our boundaries of self-understanding which cannot take place in a vacuum. For Jesus the question ‘Who is my neighbor?’ is linked with the question ‘Who is my enemy?’ It is connected to another question, ‘Who must I love, and what does it mean to love?’ We might need to reflect on asking ourselves, ‘Who is it that I can't imagine loving? Whom do I feel threatened by? Who considers me their enemy? Whose troubles are good news to me? Whom do I wish didn't exist? These are crucial questions. One cannot properly respond to the commandment to love one's enemies until one admits that they exist.
Though for some people loving God is expressed by obedience to rules and regulations or self-deprivation or carrying out various spiritual exercises, the prophets, the truth tellers, show us this is not true. In Isaiah 58, when the people complain to God, ‘We fast and you do not even see it…. We do penance and you don't notice it’, God responds with, ‘Look, on your fast days you push your trade, you oppress your workers. Yes, you fast but you end up quarreling, you strike out at each other. Fasting as you do will not make your voice heard… This is the fast that pleases me - breaking the fetters of injustice, unfastening the thongs of the yoke, setting the oppressed free, ….sharing your bread with the hungry, welcoming the homeless, clothing the one who is naked..’ This love sees situations and says ‘this is not right’; it asks why people are hungry, homeless, naked, migrating in the search of asylum, starving, and seeks to find ways to change the structures and systems that bring these about. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, said, ‘We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.’ It is not just a matter of feelings! For Micah, real religion, a real relationship to God, is ‘To act justly, to love tenderly and walk humbly with God. As we reflect on God’s love for us in each instance we draw closer to God’s heart: God’s love does not come to us in a vacuum but through the people who are part of our lives, those who challenge us and are a challenge to us – who challenge our decision to be peaceful, justice and loving. We could sometimes wonder what politicians, and other leaders, and their supporters, hear when such scriptures are proclaimed. What do they hear when the scriptures protest the oppression of the poor, the violation of people’s dignity, the lack of hospitality to strangers, the making of war and funding of war in the name of the people?
Today’s first reading makes love very concrete: its recipients are aliens, widows and orphans, the poor. In other words, those who are ‘destitute’. These are also the people that for many of us we can no longer weep for (as Pope Francis has lamented), respond to, and turn away from. Jesus stood at the tomb of Lazarus and we are told very starkly, ‘And Jesus wept’. He calls us to not make the tomb – our fears, hatreds – our natural habitat. Today more and more women, men and children are subjected to human trafficking, bondage and slavery of various kinds and need to have the stones before their tombs removed. Catholic Social Justice Teaching following these readings calls to a ‘preferential love/option for the poor’. This is clearly God’s option and needs to be our option.
We cannot avoid the truth that love of God is tested by our love for our neighbor. Last week, Jesus reminded us that God’s image is imprinted upon each person and so God/Jesus cannot be privatised or isolated in our lives. We are challenged with the question: ‘Who is my/our neighbour’? “Where is your brother/sister’? Would we need to ask if we are listening and looking? Would it be necessary if our hearts are touched by the other? Do we want to know? Truth tellers in society direct us towards these things but because they make us uncomfortable are quickly dismissed or we rationalise exceptions. These truth-tellers challenge us about neglecting God’s image in and revelation in creation, the abuse of the environment, the failure that is war and violent responses to conflict, the great inequality in society, etc. They may be deemed disloyal, treacherous, soft in the head, when they draw our attention to our exceptionalism as a people – how different, how important, how much better we are to people of other cultures or nations. We do not always want to hear about sharing, nonviolence, justice making.
Jesus didn't teach us to love God and our neighbor just to give us a set of rules to follow. If we really love God and love our neighbour we benefit too because we are interconnected. We begin to become a full human person, everything that God wants us to be. If we don't do that then we destroy the image of God that is within us because God is love and if we're not loving we're destroying God's image.
Israel was never allowed to forget her roots: she was once in exile and oppressed; she was once an alien in a foreign land, and that God ‘saw’ her condition. She must enter a future that is compassionate and just. God is passionate about humanity and looks out for the disenfranchised; listens to the cry of the needy. The late Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel wrote, ‘The exploitation of the poor is to us a misdemeanor; to God it is a disaster.’ True religious observance, prayer, contemplation has social consequences and reveal the heart of God, the God of compassion and justice. Love of God is made concrete in love of neighbour. More and more we see people dehumanised. We are increasingly confronted by the politics of selfishness. Even our religion has failed to form us into truly compassionate people. We can choose between compassion and solidarity, competition and rampant capitalism. Feeling sorry for the poor or suffering or injustice is not compassion. Compassion requires doing justice, nonviolently hissing at and refusing to cooperate with those systems that dehumanise people.
To love God is to struggle for liberation and justice. The joining of these two actions together was revolutionary. God's existence is not separate from love practised between people. We express it when we treat those who do not belong as if they did belong. It might be the fellow Christian who does not think as I do. It might be refraining from making judgements about those in our care or our circle.
There is a new reign among us: it is a very earthy kind of God-community. There is neither ‘Jew nor Greek, male nor female, slave nor free person’. Nor is there is a gay or straight. The church exists, without always succeeding, to show that there are no outcasts, no second-class people; even those who are caught up in evil.
This very ‘earthy’ message calls us to be about transforming the world by concrete witness. In this loving God we discover the truth that all creation is love-made, love-sustained, and love-fulfilled. When we divide, use power and authority to subject and push down, think and act as if we are superior, we inevitably dehumanise people, and de-sanctify everything that God made. The God of Peter Dutton, Malcolm Turnball, Bill Shorten, Theresa May and Donald Trump and their supporters says, ‘You shall not wrong strangers and foreigners [i.e., tell lies, demonise, vilify], nor oppress them [imprison them for doing no wrong, traumatise them in detention centres]. You shall not afflict any widow or orphan [not make war on them]. If you afflict them and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry. I will hear them, for I am compassionate.’ This also applies to systems and nations – those that continue to use capital punishment; those that have turned people away on the high seas leaving some to drown; those who fire missiles from the safety of their helicopters into towns and villages to assassinate political enemies; those who rob indigenous peoples of their land and culture. ‘If you afflict them and they cry to me, I will surely hear their cry.’ Just because a teaching or practice is new to some does not mean it is new. Pope Francis teachings, words, on mercy seem to be new to many people. But they are not new…. just not emphasised enough. He has been reemphasising an old teaching but with a new and important priority. Yet, he is being inhibited from fully uttering the tender words of mercy he wants to extend to those who have been made scapegoats in the righteousness games that too many clergy – and laity – piously play.
Jesus reminds us that no law, no rule, no piety, no custom, no culture, no tradition, is more important than loving God completely. None of these can contain God. To love God with all our heart, soul, and mind, is to love far beyond our immediate world of friends, family, neighbours – to go beyond the coordinates of our personality as Alfred North Whitehead said. Our neighbour is that falls into this love are the trees and the oceans. It is the air itself, the rivers, the wildlife and species that struggle to find habitat, the birds in distress for want of trees, coastlines littered with garbage, as well as people who have become the refuse of brutal economies and vicious politics. These are ‘the neighbour’ that Jesus holds up for us to see over and over again.