Who we are

Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, an Australian community, in a worldwide religious congregation.

Ministry Mission

Jesus loved with a human heart: with him we proclaim his love to the world.

Peace, Justice, Creation

We work to discover through advocacy, healing and reconciliation, God's presence in our world.

Spirituality

We are to be on earth the heart of God. God has no other heart but ours.

LITURGY NOTES 31st SUNDAY OF THE YEAR

31st

Thirty First Sunday of the Year

November 5th 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.

or

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.

or

We acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land where we are now gathered,

(the ……)  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.

54OrdinarioA31

Readings

First Reading: Malachi 1:14-2:2,8-10

Responsorial Psalm: Ps 131:1,2-3 R. In you, Lord, I have found my peace.
Second Reading:
1Thessalonians 2:7-9, 13

Gospel Reading: Matthew 23:1-12

Penitential Rite

·         Jesus, you came to serve, not to be served: Jesus, have mercy.

·         Christ, you yourself took up the cross before you asked people to carry theirs after you: Christ, have mercy.

·         Jesus, your yoke is light because you have shown us the way: Jesus, have mercy.

or

  • Jesus, you are the Word that speaks to us today: Jesus, have mercy
  • Christ, you are the Word that guides us on the right path: Christ, have mercy.
  • Jesus, you are the Word that lives within our hearts: Jesus, have mercy

Opening Prayer

God of truth and love,

we have no teacher but Christ Jesus, your Son.

May we listen to him each day and welcome his word

so that our lives conform to the faith we profess.

Preserve us from arrogance and pride,

and teach us the message of Christ’s humility and service.

General Intercessions

Introduction: Let us pray to the God of truth and love for a greater authenticity in our lives, and we pray in response: In you we find peace, O God.

·         That the whole Church, especially its leaders, may with courage and honesty, in a spirit of listening and dialogue, take to heart the task of renewal and reconciliation, we pray: In you we find peace, O God.

·         That leaders in government, business, media and the church, listen to the cries of the First Peoples of this land for a voice in their own affairs and act with integrity in the decisions they make, we pray: In you we find peace, O God.

·         That the poverty and love of Christ seen in poor around us may be reflected in the lives of those who profess to be poor and loving so that Christ may become visible in them and make their teaching credible, we pray: In you we find peace, O God.

·         That justice, human dignity and equality of persons be the concern of politicians and civic leaders, especially for the most vulnerable, we pray: In you we find peace, O God.

·         That all who search for truth and justice and those who seek God, may find that their hunger is satisfied, we pray: In you we find peace, O God.

·         That truthfulness, trust and solidarity with one another become more and more a reality in all our communities, and that it may extend towards those who we perceive have failed or taken different journeys, we pray: In you we find peace, O God.

·         That nations and peoples engage in the true dialogue and understanding so that peace will come among the nations and violence within communities and families end, we pray: In you we find peace, O God.

·         That the Christians and peoples of other faiths all come to recognise that they are sisters and brothers and need each other to rebuild their country, we pray: In you we find peace, O God.

Concluding Prayer: God of truth and love, help us to love and serve one another passionately according to the way of Christ Jesus, your Son. 

Prayer over the Gifts

God of truth and love,

in these signs which we offer to you we remember

the death and resurrection of your Son.

As Jesus showed us the depth of his love,

may our love strive to be genuine

and grow in greater capacity

to forgive each other from our hearts

and be open to your presence in each of us.

Prayer after Communion

God of truth and love,

by our participation in this Eucharist

may we be strengthened

to be humble before, and serving of other people.

May we serve you joyfully

and proclaim what we believe

with deeds of peace, justice and compassion.

Coming up:

November 6 International Day for Preventing the Exploitati0n of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict

Further Resources

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in the beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Wendell Berry

Building a New World

Here, in the society we have created for ourselves,

we have honoured the great,

the wealthy,

the visible,

the first,

the best;

and we have forgotten the quiet power of humility.

And so now, we face the fruits of our misplaced values:

our leaders falter and we feel betrayed,

our wealth slips away, and we wonder how we will survive,

And across the world people find it harder to buy food,

to stay safe, and to find shelter.

So now we pray for a new heart, for a new way of being,

for the courage and vision to build our world on different values;

humility,

service,

compassion,

generosity,

integrity.

Perhaps it’s a dream, O God, but we believe it is Your dream,

and it’s the only true hope we have.

So, may Your will be done here among us,

within us,

through us.

Amen.

John Laar, Sacredise

We are challenged to rise above the narrow confines of our individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity... We have before us the glorious opportunity to inject a new dimension of love into the veins of our civilization.

Martin Luther King, JR.

I am not from the East or the West...

I belong to the beloved, have seen the two worlds as one….

Rumi

It is only by confronting evil, violence and injustice that we can ever hope to overcome them.. And while we may never taste the fruit of our labor, we are not required to be successful, we are only required to be faithful.

Martin Sheen, actor, Pax Christi USA

If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn't help the poor, either we've got to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we've got to acknowledge that he commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition, and then admit that we just don't want to do it.

Stephen Colbert

We can create a world as yet unimagined, a world undreamed, yet dimly felt. We are like the corn. Mysteriously hidden within each of us are the seeds that can germinate into a new society, a new planet. Like the corn, we have hidden deep within our living process a wisdom that reaches back to all knowledge and beyond to all possibilities.

Anne Wilson Schaef

My personal revenge

My personal revenge will be the right

Of our children in the schools and in the gardens

My personal revenge will be to give you

This song which has flourished without panic

My personal revenge will be to show you

The kindness in the eyes of my people

Who have always fought relentlessly in battle

And been generous and firm in victory

My personal revenge will be to tell you good morning

On a street without beggars or homeless

When instead of jailing you I suggest

You shake away the sadness there that blinds you

And when you who have applied your hands in torture

Are unable to look up at what surrounds you

My personal revenge will be to give you

These hands that once you so mistreated

But have failed to take away their tenderness

It was the people who hated you the most
When rage became the language of their song
And underneath the skin of this town today
Its heart has been scarred forevermore

It was the people who hated you the most
When rage became the language of their song
And underneath the skin of this town today
Its heart has been scarred forevermore
And underneath the skin of this town today
Red and black, its heart's been scarred

Forevermore

Tomas Borge and Louis Enrique Mejia Godoy, Nicaraguan writers

You're here because you know something. What you know you can't explain - but you feel it. You've felt it your entire life; that there's something wrong with the world; you don't know what it is, but it's there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad. It is this feeling that has brought you to me. Do you know what I'm talking about?

The Matrix, 1999

The terrible, cold, cruel part is Wall Street. Rivers of gold flow there from all over the earth, and death comes with it. There, as nowhere else, you feel a total absence of the spirit: herds of men who cannot count past three, herds more who cannot get past six, scorn for pure science and demoniacal respect for the present. And the terrible thing is that the crowd that fills the street believes that the world will always be the same and that it is their duty to keep that huge machine running, day and night, forever.

Federico Garcia Lorca, Spanish Poet and Playwright, (1898-1936)

What happens is in all of these movements ... the foot soldiers of the elite - the blue uniformed police, the mechanisms of control - finally don't want to impede the movement and at that point the power elite is left defenseless ... the only thing I can say having been in the middle of similar movements is that this one is real, and this one could take them all down ... I can guarantee you that huge segments of those blue uniformed police sympathize with everything that you're doing.

Chris Hedges, Pulitzer Prize winner

One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we've been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We're no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It is simply too painful to acknowledge ~ even to ourselves ~ that we've been so credulous. So the old bamboozles tend to persist as the new bamboozles rise.

Carl Sagan

No one longs for what he or she already has, and yet the accumulated insight of those wise about the spiritual life suggests that the reason so many of us cannot see the red X that marks the spot is because we are standing on it… All we lack is the willingness to imagine that we already have everything we need. The only thing missing is our consent to be where we are.”

Barbara Brown Taylor, An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith

Prayer for the Environment Common Good

As we breathe the very air which sustains us,

We remember your love, God,

which gives us life.

Fill us with your compassion for Creation.

Empty us of apathy, selfishness and fear,

of all pessimism and hesitation.

Breathe into us solidarity

with all who suffer now

and the future generations who will suffer

because of our environmental irresponsibility.

Move us into action

to save our earth

and to build your sustainable Kingdom.

Amen.

Jane Deren, Education for Justice

God of justice and compassion,

We ask forgiveness for the widening gulf between rich and poor,

For the use of money as a measure of all things,

For the culture of self-gratification,

For the continuing disparities between those that have so much and those who have so little.

And for the suffering of those people who are excluded from the table of abundance.

Forgive us for our focus on material goods,

And our part in the worship of economic growth

In a world where resources are limited

and where we are already using more than our fair share.

Forgive us for going along with what is easy,

For failing to come to grips with the problems of change

And to engage in the complexity of social issues.

Fill us with a living faith that we may become lively seeds of your kingdom,

Continually growing in your way of love,

Instruments of personal and social reconciliation,

Vehicles for a new dawn when those in poverty

Are welcomed to the table where compassion and justice meet.

Lord, in your mercy,

Hear our Prayer.

Based on a prayer by Alan Litherland, Education for Justice

We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine; and remember that we are not descended from fearful men. Not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate, and to defend causes that were for the moment unpopular. This is no time for men . . . to keep silent, or for those who approve. We can deny our heritage and our history, but we cannot escape responsibility for the result. There is no way for a citizen of a republic to abdicate his responsibilities.

Edward R. Murrow

During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act

George Orwell

He who recognizes no humanity in others, loses it in himself.

author unknown

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world: Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.

Margaret Meade

There's a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious-makes you so sick at heart-that you can't take part. You can't even passively take part. And you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop. And you've indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you're free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!

Mario Savio

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed.

Dwight Eisenhower, 34th President of the United States

... it's real hard to be free when you are bought and sold in the marketplace. Of course, don't ever tell anybody that they're not free, 'cause then they're gonna get real busy killin' and maimin' to prove to you that they are. Oh, yeah, they're gonna talk to you, and talk to you, and talk to you about individual freedom. But they see a free individual, it's gonna scare 'em.

Jack Nicholson, from the movie ‘Easy Rider’

The one gift of salvation coming from God through Jesus-Sophia in the Spirit upends power relationships, transforming all teachers, fathers, masters, great ones into servants of the little ones . . . Jesus’ Abba signifies a compassionate, liberating God…

Elizabeth Johnson, CSJ, She Who Is, p. 82

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.

Pope John XXIII, Mater et Magistra, #157

There is a Zen story about a man riding a horse which is galloping very quickly. Another man, standing alongside the road, yells at him, 'Where are you going?' and the man on the horse yells back, 'I don’t know. Ask the horse.' I think that is our situation. We are riding many horses that we cannot control. The proliferation of armaments, for instance, is a horse. We have tried our best, but we cannot control these horses. Our lives are so busy.

Thich Nhat Hanh, Being Peace, p. 65

In the eyes of empire builders men are not men

but instruments.

Napoleon Bonaparte: French Emperor (1769-1821)

The first sign of corruption in a society that is still alive is that the end justifies the means.

Georges Bernanos

The propagandist's purpose is to make one set of people forget that certain other sets of people are human.

Aldous Huxley

How you can win the population for war: At first, the statesman will invent cheap lying, that impute the guilt of the attacked nation, and each person will be happy over this deceit, that calm the conscience. It will study it detailed and refuse to test arguments of the other opinion. So he will convince step for step even therefrom that the war is just and thank God, that he, after this process of grotesque even deceit, can sleep better. Mark Twain

We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light

Plato

COWARDICE, n. A charge often leveled by all-American types against those who stand up for their beliefs by refusing to fight in wars they find unconscionable, and who willingly go to prison or into exile in order to avoid violating their own consciences. These 'cowards' are to be contrasted with red-blooded, 'patriotic' youths who literally bend over, grab their ankles, submit to the government, fight in wars they do not understand (or disapprove of), and blindly obey orders to maim and to kill simply because they are ordered to do so-all to the howling approval of the all-American mob. This type of behavior is commonly termed 'courageous.'

Chaz Bufe

Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is that numbers of people all over the world have obeyed the dictates of the leaders of their government and have gone to war, and millions have been killed because of this obedience. . . Our problem is that people are obedient all over the world in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity, and war, and cruelty

Howard Zinn

All peoples who have reached the point of becoming nations tend to despise foreigners, but there is not much doubt that the English-speaking races are the worst offenders. One can see this from the fact that as soon as they become fully aware of any foreign race, they invent an insulting nickname for it. Wop, Dago, Froggy, Squarehead, Kike, Sheeny, Nigger, Wog, Chink, Greaser, Yellowbelly — these are merely a selection.

George Orwell (1938)

O God,

so many voices would command our allegiance.

Self-help voices, nationalistic voices,

voices of domination and voices of resentment —

they all claim, ‘Thus says God.’

Yet, you are the God of the prophets:

Amos and Isaiah, Elizabeth and Anna,

Nathan and Elijah, the daughters of Philip and the women of Corinth.

Grant us the grace to hear all those voices with responsive ears.

Grant us the wisdom to discern true voices from shallow ones,

from self-serving ones, from deceptive ones.

Grant us the grace and wisdom to heed the voices that point us

toward your way and your community.

In Christ's name — but for our sakes and the sake the world — we pray. Amen.

Reflections for Sunday……..

Matthew's gospel begins by revealing Jesus as ‘God with us’ (1:23-24), and ends with Jesus asserting, ‘I am with you always; yes, to the end of time’ (28:20). These bracket everything that we are called to in the gospel. As these words touch us, we are also called to ask how we are present in our little corner of the world. Does this presence reflect the God who is present among us all and in us all – the God whose image is fixed on every other person.

This month, the gospel has spoken about taxes; caring for immigrants, widows and orphans; banquets; vineyards; and most important of all, about the love of God and neighbor. No where does God’s word coerce us except to challenge us by its truth. ‘The greatest among you will be your servant’. Today’s readings touch on the tendency to patriarchalism and exclusivity, which lead to divisions and a failure to remember that we, as sisters and brothers, have one parent. Ostentation and use of titles can also lead to division. It can lull people into a sense of false deference to authority, and the temptation to clericalism that Pope Francis continues to denounce, and a failure to speak truth to power and speak out in the face of injustice.

The Jewish leaders had worked out laws and observances very burdensome to most ordinary people, but devised clever loop-holes to exempt themselves. Jesus rejected titles mainly because they were used for the sake of ostentation, arrogance or pomposity. In each case, there is the tendency to set oneself apart from others. That was also behind Jesus’ criticism of the Pharisees for some of the clothes they wore in public. The modern equivalent is the cardinal who uses the long capa magna at certain religious events.

Malachi questions ‘priests’ who seek favour with the rich, famous and powerful. He also questions us in a special way today: ‘Why ... do we break faith with each other?’ [Mal 2:9}. Why do marriages and relationships fail and friendships grow cold? Why do we belittle and exploit each other?  Why do we betray one another? Why do we kill each other? Why do we, who were born for loving God and each other, kill love? Our lives become a reaching out for ways to fill or to hide our needs, ways that often lead away from God and people? Why do we fear one another and erect barriers through laws and policies? Why do we not see that the Indonesian; the Iraqi, the Sri Lankan or the Afghan is valued in God’s eyes as one like ourselves?  No one is let off the hook in the scriptures. There is a call to be consistent [authentic] in what we say and do.

Our daily actions or behaviour patterns communicate what we really believe.  Is there a consistency between what we say and do? Respect applies to people and the lives they lead, not their titles. Malachi condemns leadership that leads to inequality in the community. Quite a few years ago, Hugh Mackay, said in an interview that for the first time in our Australian history there are definite social demarcations. At the same time, Clive Hamilton also reported on people that some call the ‘battlers’. He suggested that this had more to do with the fact they were trying to have more of what they do not need or battled to pay for that ‘extra’ car or ‘extra’ room to the house that will not be used.  Both researchers suggested that these ‘drives’ held people back from being there and of service to others, and hold back from compassion for those who have not made it.

Jesus’ expressed leadership by loving service. This is how he is God with us. Jesus' life was invested in his praxis, his lifestyle, in contrast to some Jewish leaders who manipulated religion to garner social privilege. It is important that the gospel today not be misused as support for anti-Semitism. Jesus’ critique of the religious leaders of his day is not meant to be a critique of Jewish people.  We see in this passage an enduring challenge to demand for all leaders to be authentic and accountable for their just or unjust actions. We are all leaders in some way. The call to authenticity includes practicing what we preach, purifying our hearts’ motives for public ministry, and living in relationships of mutuality. It avoids imposing our own burdens and needs upon others for whom we are responsible.

Our name and identity is that that of ‘friend’ -  of Jesus and of God. This identity is not based on human achievement or merit but given to us gratuitously so that we might be able to see others who also bear this name and identity. Healing and freedom comes when we allow old names/titles be put aside – which carry no weight before God. Paul [in Galatians] says, ‘In Christ …no man or woman, Jew or gentile. We are one in Christ.  We bear his identity.’ It is sad tht this identity is often blurred when it comes to certain groups of people: Muslims, Rohingyas, gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender people, asylum seekers and people of colour. We can notionally say they are our sisters and brothers and bear the identity of God’s image but when they come to our door, or our community, or our church that is another matter.

We have been made new in Christ [through baptism] and any other identity, any pretending, any other way of ‘dressing’ is hollow.  The winner in Jesus' eyes is the one who serves, who becomes what she or he eats at Christ's table. These present the reality of the living Word of God in their everyday lives - teaching, nursing, doctoring, lawyering, mothering and fathering.

Jesus declares an end to patriarchy and oligarchy as domination systems. ‘Call no (man) on earth your father …or your teacher’.  It is patriarchy that leads to oppression, domination, war and violence.

In all the struggles through the centuries over who can be baptised and how, who can be ordained or be married in church, or who can be blessed or buried from the church - in the eye of all the storms, one question lurks: how does our answer expand or constrict our definition of human being, of human identity? How does our language or our praxis serve as an acceptable model for human community - a proper metaphor for the God whose name is Love?

Prophets often railed against religion as commodity, and clergy as entrepreneurs. They railed against church leaders who blessed the status quo, or who made alliances with partisan groups. We see this today where church leaders can be tempted to align themselves closely to a particular political view or party and then fail to speak out on some social issues.

We are called as God's people to declare what is good, just, and break down the barriers and limits that System puts on our charity and justice making so as to exclude from the grace of God and the generosity of God's people the poor - of Cuba, Iraq, Iran, Syria, etc.  Today’s gospel shows Jesus as coming to do a regime change in our midst.

Jesus began a journey away from patriarchy and hierarchy and systems of domination towards a community with inclusive models and metaphors for God (and, itself).  Such a community reflects solidarity with the suffering and the ‘wretched of the earth’ by making it clear that we are sisters and brothers in one human family. It is a new kind of globalisation of hope for the poor, and a communion of saints which is our earthly family in people of God.

The leaders made God look very exacting and demanding. The problems they threw Jesus' way revealed either an inability or a refusal to consider that their beliefs and leadership were in need of a radical renewal. They turned them into barricades that secure their prestige and privilege.

So, the scriptures remind us that we are created by the same God.  It follows that we are called to be of service to one another and live in loving solidarity with each other – not to dominate, oppress or rule over one another.  In today’s terms this perspective can be applied to war and peace; economic injustice; and racism and xenophobia. With war and peace, human beings and their governments work to control others and dominate and so resort to war and violence to gain or preserve positions of power, wealth or control. This is not the way of Jesus.  With economic injustice; human beings and their corporations and institutions work to gain wealth and economic domination. This means that people are sometimes ‘left out.’ Employment conditions are appalling, wages inadequate and unjust. Some have too much and many others have too little. This is not the way of Jesus. Finally, with racism and xenophobia, very rife during this time of the so-called ‘war on terrorism’, human beings can dominate and stereotype others. Sometimes whole groups of people are ‘left out’ and fall through the gaps. Such discrimination can be reflected in laws and policies. We forget that we are sisters and brothers with one common parent. This, too, is not the way of Jesus. Divisions arise when people seek power or control rather than serve the One who is at the heart of the universe who calls us to solidarity and interdependence with one another and all creation.

All of us need to recognise the fortresses or walls of arrogance or fear that prevent us from giving ourselves away. Sometimes this is manifested in being precious about ourselves, our needs, and what we experience as of being more important and worthy of consideration than those of others. It is removed from Jesus’ focal point being community [the Reign of God] and particularly the ‘little ones’ and their needs. 'The greatest among you will be your servant'