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 FOR THE 33RD SUNDAY OF THE YEAR

33rd

 

Thirty Third Sunday of the Year

November 19th 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

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.

             

  

 

  

Readings

Reading I Pro 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31

Responsorial Psalm Ps 128:1-2, 3, 4-5

Reading II 1Thess 5:1-6

Gospel Mt 25:14-30 or 25:14-15, 19-21

Penitential Rite

  1. Jesus, you came among us to free from all fear: Jesus, have mercy.
  2. Christ, you have entrusted us with the transformation of our world and church. Christ, have mercy.
  3. Jesus, you have made us free and responsible in the service of God and the world: Jesus, have mercy.

 

Opening Prayer

Gracious God,

you do not call us servants but friends.

You have entrusted to us,

the future of your reign of justice and love.

Give us the courage to work with you

for the growth of kindness and goodness in the world,

by working to bring reconciliation and joy to everyone.

General Intercessions

Introduction: All that we are and all that we have belongs to God. Let us pray that we may place everything at the service of the people of the world. Let us pray in response: R/ May all our actions praise you, Gracious God.

  • That the negotiators at UN Conference on Climate Change just completed (on Friday November 17) will make decisions and seek outcomes that benefit the most vulnerable of peoples threatened by climate change and exercising leadership as world leaders rather than being guided by national and petty political concerns, let us pray: R/ May all our actions praise you, Gracious God.
  • That the people harshly treated by our Government on Manus Island and Nauru will have their rights soon restored, their dignity upheld and their concerns listened to, let us pray: R/ May all our actions praise you, Gracious God.
  • That the Church may not be fearful of change and renewal so that people today will hear the good news of hope and life, let us pray: R/ May all our actions praise you, Gracious God.
  • That all people may share in the earth's resources in justice, friendship and peace, let us pray: R/ May all our actions praise you, Gracious God.
  • That the strong and the powerful of this earth may cooperate toward the human and economic development of all nations and peoples, especially those most marginalised and vulnerable, let us pray: R/ May all our actions praise you, Gracious God.
  • That women, men and juveniles recently released from prison may find welcoming people to assist them to reintegrate into the community; a church community that embraces them with the love and compassion of Jesus, let us pray:  R/ May all our actions praise you, Gracious God.
  • That women may take their rightful place in the Church and in all parts of society, let us pray: R/ May all our actions praise you, Gracious God.
  • That people in the path of war and conflict, who live with violence in family and neighbourhoods will no longer live in fear but come to live peacefully and nonviolently, let us pray: R/ May all our actions praise you, Gracious God.
  • That those who live with illness and chronic pain, and those who live with the effects of aging may find in those who care for them the respect, compassion and love of Christ, let us pray: R/ May all our actions praise you, Gracious God.

Presider Generous and loving God, hear our prayers this day and give us the grace to offer our suffering, our joys, our gifts and our failures to you so that what we are becomes our gift to you and to the world. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Prayer over the Gifts

Gracious God,

all you have given us is seen

in these gifts of bread and wine

which will become for us body and blood of Jesus.

May we share ourselves with one another

and promote your Reign of peace and justice.

 

Deliver Us

Deliver us, Gracious One,

from passivity and paralysing fear

to commit ourselves wholeheartedly to others.

May we never stand still

to preserve what we have

but always continue to grow in love

and to develop your gifts in us,

that we may give a good account

to the one who is to come,

Christ Jesus, our Savior.

R/ For the kingdom..

 

Prayer after Communion

Gracious God,

source of all that is good,

through the gift of your Son Jesus Christ

we sow the seeds of your life and love in the world

Give us the courage to be your transforming presence

through our struggle for peace through justice.

 

Further Resources

‘If we'd been born where they were born and taught what they were taught, we would believe what they believe.’

  • A sign inside a church in Northern Ireland, explaining the origin of intolerance and hate

   

O (Lord),

open my eyes that I may see the needs of others;

open my ears that I may hear their cries;

open my heart so that they need not be without succor;

let me not be afraid to defend the weak because of the anger of the strong,

nor afraid to defend the poor because of the anger of the rich

And so open my eyes and my ears that I may this coming day

be able to do some work of peace for thee.

Alan Paton

 

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 of injustice

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

The contemplative life is about becoming more contemplative all the time. It is about being in the world differently. What needs to be changed in us? Anything that deludes us into thinking that we are not simply a work in progress, all of whose degrees, status, achievements, and power are no substitute for the wisdom that a world full of God everywhere, in everyone, has to teach us.

Joan Chittister, from Illuminated Life

What sort of power is it that really and truly renders the deity present? Human beings automatically think of God as someone who possesses and wields power. Jesus forces people to consider whether that deeply rooted conviction is true or not. In historical terms it is readily apparent that power, left to its own inertial tendencies, tends to be oppressive in fact. So it cannot be the ultimate meditation of God, though human beings might tend to think so.

Jon Sobrino, from Christology at the Crossroads: A Latin American Approach

Living without speaking is better than speaking without living. For a person who lives rightly helps us by silence, while one who talks too much annoys us. If, however, words and life go hand in hand, it is the perfection of all philosophy.

Isidore of Pelusium

Holiness consists in doing God’s will joyfully. Faithfulness makes saints. The spiritual life is a union with Jesus: the divine and the human giving themselves to each other. The only thing Jesus asks of us is to give ourselves to [God], in total poverty and total self-forgetfulness.’

Mother Teresa, from The Love of Christ

Holiness is not limited to the sanctuary or to moments of private prayer; it is a call to direct our whole heart and life toward God and according to God's plan for this world. For the laity holiness is achieved in the midst of the world, in family, in community, in friendships, in work, in leisure, in citizenship. Through their competency and by their activity, lay men and women have the vocation to bring the fight of the Gospel to economic affairs, ‘so that the world may be filled with the Spirit of Christ and may more effectively attain its destiny in justice, in love, and in peace.

US Bishops, Economic Justice for All, #332

Hence, as Leo XIII so wisely taught in Rerum Novarum: ‘whoever has received from the divine bounty a large share of temporal blessings, whether they be external and corporeal, or gifts of the mind, has received them for the purpose of using them for the perfecting of his own nature, and, at the same time, that he may employ them, as the steward of God's Providence, for the benefit of others. 'He that hath a talent,' says St. Gregory the Great, 'let him see that he hide it not; he that hath abundance, let him quicken himself to mercy and generosity; he that hath art and skill, let him do his best to share the use and the utility thereof with his neighbor.

John XXIII, Mater et Magistra, 119

A Peace Psalm (based on chapter thirty-one of the Tao Te Ching)

Edward Hays Prayers for a Planetary Pilgrim

O Prince of Peace,

whose active presence we seek in our lives,

come this day and show us

how to beat our swords into plowshares,

tools of life instead of instruments of fear.

May your love strip us naked

of all weapons and strategies of conquest,

which are not the tools of lovers,

wise ones and God's children.

Let us not lust for power

but rather strive for the insight

to be guided on the Way of Peace.

Let us not yearn for a victory

that requires a sister's sorrow

or a brother's shamefaced defeat.

With tears, black suits and dresses

and tolling funeral bells,

let us attend life's victory parties

that are won at such a cost.

Let us be peacemakers,

hammering swords into shovels,

filling holes and leveling peaks.

for only through such open hands and hearts can

The Peacemaker come.

AMEN.

The problem is not corruption or greed, the problem is the system that pushes you to be corrupt. The solution is not found in the slogan 'Main Street, not Wall Street,' but to change the system in which Main Street cannot function without Wall Street.

Slavoj Zizek, The Violent Silence of a New Beginning’, In These Times, October 27, 2011

The most shocking fact about war is that its victims and its instruments are individual human beings, and that these individual beings are condemned by the monstrous conventions of politics to murder or be murdered in quarrels not their own.

Aldous Huxley,English novelist and critic, 1894-1963

The worst sin toward our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them: that's the essence of inhumanity.

George Bernard Shaw

The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any.

Alice Walker

Action is the antidote to despair

Joan Baez

People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome.

George Orwell


 ... the media in the United States effectively represents the interests of corporate America, and ... the media elite are the watchdogs of what constitutes acceptable ideological messages, the parameters of news and information content, and the general use of media resources.

Peter Phillips, Project Censored, 1998

History is written by the victors.

Winston Churchill

It is curious - curious that physical courage should be so common in the world, and moral courage so rare.

Mark Twain

We can tell our values by looking at our checkbook stubs.

Gloria Steinem

What is a cynic? A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.

Oscar Wilde (1854 - 1900), Lady Windermere's Fan

He had heard people speak contemptuously of money: he wondered if they had ever tried to do without it.

W. Somerset Maugham (1874 - 1965), Of Human Bondage

If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)

You don't stick a knife in a man's back nine inches, and then pull it out six inches, and say you're making progress.

Malcolm X

The test of our progress is not whether we add to the abundance of those who have much. It is whether we provide enough to those who have little.

Franklin D. Roosevelt

 

Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable... Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.

Martin Luther King

Wherefore, O youth, choose with confidence, me, the better cause, and you will learn to hate the Agora, and to refrain from baths, and to be ashamed of what is disgraceful, and to be enraged if any one jeer you, and to rise up from seats before your seniors when they approach, and not to behave ill toward your parents, and to do nothing else that is base, because you are to form in your mind an image of Modesty:

Aristophanes, The Clouds, Translated by William James Hickie

The fundamental test of an economy is its ability to meet the essential human needs of this generation and future generations in an equitable fashion. Food, water and energy are essential to life; their abundance  …………has tended to make us complacent. But these goods--the foundation of God's gift of life--are too crucial to be taken for granted. God reminded the people of Israel that 'the land is mine; for you are strangers and guests with me' (Lv 25:23, RSV). Our Christian faith calls us to contemplate God's creative and sustaining action and to measure our own collaboration with the Creator in using the earth's resources to meet human needs.

U.S. Catholic Bishops, Economic Justice for All, #216

Because God is the creator, redeemer, lover of the world, God’s own honor is at stake in human happiness. Wherever human beings are violated, diminished, or have their life drained away, God’s glory is dimmed and dishonored. Wherever human beings are quickened to fuller and richer life, God’s glory is enhanced. A community of justice and peace (thriving among human beings) and God’s glory increase in direct and not inverse proportion.

Elizabeth Johnson, CSJ, She Who Is, 14

There is a growing awareness of the sublime dignity of human persons, who stand above all things and whose rights and duties are universal and inviolable. They ought, therefore, to have ready access to all that is necessary for living a genuinely human life: for example, food, clothing, housing . . . the right to education, and work.

Vatican II, The Church and the Modern World, #26

The Synod Fathers stated: 'As an expression of her mission the Church must stand firmly against all forms of discrimination and abuse of women' (178). And again: 'The dignity of women, gravely wounded in public esteem, must be restored through effective respect for the rights of the human person and by putting the teaching of the Church into practice.

Pope John Paul II, Christifideles Laici, #49

 

Christ's way of acting, the Gospel of his words and deeds, is a consistent protest against whatever offends the dignity of women.

Pope John Paul II

It is never right to do wrong or to requite wrong with wrong, or when we suffer evil to defend ourselves by doing evil in return.

Socrates 469 - 399 BC

The people will eat what the corporations decide for them to eat. They will be detached and remote from the sources of their life, joined to them only by corporate tolerance. They will have become consumers purely-consumptive machines-which is to say, the slaves of producers. What ... model farms very powerfully suggest, then, is that the concept of total control may be impossible to confine within the boundaries of the specialist enterprise-that it is impossible to mechanize production without mechanizing consumption, impossible to make machines of soil, plants, and animals without making machines also of people.

The nascent effort by communities to reclaim local food production is the first step toward reclaiming lives severed and fragmented by corporate culture. It is more than a return to local food production. It is a return to community. It brings us back to the values that sustain community. It is a return to the recognition of the fragility, interconnectedness and sacredness of all living systems and our dependence on each other. It turns back to an ethic that can save us.

[The commercial] revolution ... did not stop with the subjugation of the Indians, but went on to impose substantially the same catastrophe upon the small farms and the farm communities, upon the shops of small local tradesmen of all sorts, upon the workshops of independent craftsmen, and upon the households of citizens. It is a revolution that is still going on.

Wendell Berry, poet, farmer.

I'm often amazed at the way politicians, who spend hours poring over opinion poll results in a desperate attempt to discover what the public thinks, are certain they know precisely what God's views are on everything.

Simon Hoggart

How many does it take to metamorphose wickedness into righteousness? One man must not kill. If he does, it is murder.... But a state or nation may kill as many as they please, and it is not murder. It is just, necessary, commendable, and right. Only get enough people to agree to it, and the butchery of myriads of human beings is perfectly innocent. But how many does it take?

Adin Ballou, The Non-Resistant, 5 February 1845

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, activist and writer.

There have been periods of history in which episodes of terrible violence occurred but for which the word violence was never used.... Violence is shrouded in justifying myths that lend it moral legitimacy, and these myths for the most part kept people from recognizing the violence for what it was. The people who burned witches at the stake never for one moment thought of their act as violence; rather they thought of it as an act of divinely mandated righteousness. The same can be said of most of the violence we humans have ever committed.

Gil Bailie

The care of human life and happiness and not their destruction is the first and only legitimate object of good government.

Thomas Jefferson

Individual rights are not subject to a public vote; a majority has no right to vote away the rights of a minority; the political function of rights is precisely to protect minorities from oppression by majorities (and the smallest minority on earth is the individual).

Ayn Rand

They wrote in the old days that it is sweet and fitting to die for one's country. But in modern war, there is nothing sweet nor fitting in your dying. You will die like a dog for no good reason.

Ernest Hemmingway

Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism

Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

A Prayer of Peace

Time has come, the time is now

When love of God may unite us all

Love of life is the universal call

We must recognize we are from the same clay,

Live through the same breath, same God we obey

Where there is religious ego, let compassion prevail

Where there is diversity, let unity excel

Where there is bigotry,

Let there be dignity

Where there is oppression

Set people free

May all people of religion unite, strands intertwined

Like a rope with which we can hang

The big chandelier of Light –

And remove blinders of prejudice from everyone's sight.

Where there is fanaticism,

Let there be hope

Where there is injustice,

Let there be faith

Where there is politics

Let there be peace

Source Unknown

I wouldn't call it fascism exactly, but a political system nominally controlled by an irresponsible, dumbed down electorate who are manipulated by dishonest, cynical, controlled mass media that dispense the propaganda of a corrupt political establishment can hardly be described as democracy either.

Edward Zehr

Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

In order that all men might be taught to speak truth, it is necessary that all likewise should learn to hear it.

Dr. Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) - Source: The Rambler, 1750-52

Political correctness is really a subjective list put together by the few to rule the many -- a list of things one must think, say, or do. It affronts the right of the individual to establish his or her own beliefs.

Mark Berley

 

There never was an idea stated that woke men out of their stupid indifference but its originator was spoken of as a crank.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. (1809-1894) American Poet

An election is coming. Universal peace is declared and the foxes have a sincere interest in prolonging the lives of the poultry.

T.S. Eliot

Politics, it seems to me, for years, or all too long, has been concerned with right or left instead of right or wrong.

Richard Armour

Politics is the gentle art of getting votes from the poor and campaign funds from the rich, by promising to protect each from the other.

Oscar Ameringer

How come we choose from just two people to run for president and 50 for Miss America?

Author Unknown

There are men - now in power in this country - who do not respect dissent, who cannot cope with turmoil, and who believe that the people of America are ready to support repression as long as it is done with a quiet voice and a business suit.

John Lindsay

We live in oppressive times. We have, as a nation, become our own thought police; but instead of calling the process by which we limit our expression of dissent and wonder ‘censorship,’ we call it ‘concern for commercial viability.

David Mamet

Resistance is feasible even for those who are not heroes by nature, and it is an obligation, I believe, for those who fear the consequences and detest the reality of the attempt to impose American hegemony.

Noam Chomsky

We are discreet sheep; we wait to see how the drove is going, and then go with the drove.

Mark Twain [Samuel Langhorne Clemens] (1835-1910)

There are times in politics when you must be on the right side and lose.

John Kenneth Galbraith

 

God of justice,

Thank you for reaching through unjust leaders and systems

to remind us that justice is still a possibility in our lives.

Guide us as we follow your lead to build communities

of peace, equality and justice for all.

Amen

Reflections on the readings

We need to be careful when reading the parables and applying the images to God or Jesus. This story is not a story about Jesus himself or God. We must always keep in mind that we are in the hands of a loving God. One needs to be wary of the image of God where one is not allowed to make mistakes, is not allowed to be foolish or an image of the locked door that will not open for foolish bridesmaids in the middle of the night or of a God who roars: to those who have, more will be given, but for those who have not, even what they have will be taken away. The God of Jesus does not have unbending performance standards; who requires us to work out your own salvation, who says that we have choices to make and they had been be the right ones. This is how much of the world operates and maybe Christianity has at time encourages this.

We have no doubt heard this parable and heard it as an exhortation to see and use our God given talents basically to achieve, achieve, achieve, to get ahead – or else. This is the underlying weapon often used against people who are poor, unemployed, people with disabilities, people out of prison who cannot for any reason ‘contribute’ to the ‘economy’. It can also be used against anyone who does not want to buy into the ‘capitalist’ system.

This parable must not be used to justify ruthless and hardhearted business practices. Most people take the obvious message: reward for the smart and diligent, and punishment for the feckless and hopeless. It is another way of saying ‘God helps those who help themselves’ (an expression never used by Jesus)         – and so if you are successful it’s because God has blessed you; if not successful it is because you are faithless. Pretty simple but pretty wrong! Again, a human standard assuming and usurping God’s standards. What shall we say about our image of the merciful God Jesus proclaims if we see God as the master who throws the steward into the darkness outside? These actions hardly fit Jesus’ image of God. The master seems more like a modern, greedy business person who gains wealth at the expense of others, ‘… harvesting where you did not plant and gathering we you did not scatter.’

Jesus’ world was not like our capitalist system that increases wealth by investment. That world had only limited goods and resources and if anyone increased their wealth, it meant that they were effectively stealing from someone else. Peasants strived to subsist on what he had for his family. So, the rich and famous who are admired in our world for their success and wealth would have been seen as thieves among Jesus’ listeners – stealing from the limited supply of the world’s resources. This might cause us to reconsider who might be the ‘righteous’ person in the story.

Peace, justice and equality are God’s intention for us and we are encouraged to work towards those ends. Reading the passages from the underside help us to resist the dynamics of oppression.

So often in the financial world the rich seek protection whilst the poor lose. Those with privilege try to hang on to it by presenting themselves as victims against those who seek justie and equity.  The poor in Asia, Latin America, Africa, and Australia have lived with a financial meltdown for decades. In Matthew those who fail to do justice are judged as are those who rely on position and power to save them, or those who neglect or exploit the marginalised and vulnerable. Is it that the one who is thrown out does not have a place in God’s reign or is it that he or she does not have a place in the ways of the world: a system that dominates, controls and rides on the back of the poor; that treats people as disposable; where old people sleep in cardboard boxes and children scavenge on landfills?

Jesus hearers would have resonated with the experience of destitution, disenfranchisement and oppression - rather than the challenge to use their gifts and talents. Remember: Matthew’s audience was poor and a talent was the equivalent of our about fifteen years’ wages. The Master does not represent or act like God. The ‘master’ is in contrast to what God is like – unless God is severe, hardhearted and ruthless, but this is not the God revealed by Jesus. He is the only norm.

The gospel story illustrates oppressive ownership issues faced by Jesus’ contemporaries – and people today. What we hear Jesus say depends on what we see and who we are with - whether our perspective/view/bias is from the top or from the underside. The parables are hard-hitting but when we spiritualise them in ways that they lose their edge or bite, even confirm us in the status quo and prop up unjust systems (capitalism) and justify unjust business practices. We are to see the world differently, to see how the world could be. Jesus' images emphasise that God's reign is not other-worldly or removed from our world. Our stance in the world is to be vigilant in confronting injustice. The talents have less to say about our gifts and more how God’s image is so often deformed in our sisters and brothers. Jesus’ audience would have been disgusted at the doubling of the ‘investment’ because greed characterised the rich and powerful who extorted and defrauded others through tax collecting, lucrative trading and money lending at high rates of interest. In other words, the kind of behaviour that still causes the destructive cycle of indebtedness and poverty in or world – in families and in the developing countries.

The third steward who did not cooperate with the Master and the other stewards might be showing his opposition to the unjust and powerful who profit at the expense of the poor. He is a kind of whistle-blower who speaks the truth and confronts injustice: ‘I knew you were a harsh man’ (skleros, 'hardhearted'). ‘You reap where you did not sow, and gather where you did not scatter seed’. That is, ‘your wealth comes from the backbreaking labour of others’. His action is a form of dissent. He will not participate in this exploitation and takes the money out of circulation. At least one more farmer was not dispossessed. The third steward was non-compliant - as was Jesus. Jesus cannot be seen as endorsing this mercenary economics which leads to the inevitable polarisation of wealth. This is not just between the rich and poor of the world, but also between the sexes.

With this in view, the wise and profitable investors who worked for the rich master are like those modern corporations and speculators who push aside the powerless, invest their wealth and earn large profits off the backs of the poor and the environment. And, they are well rewarded as were those in the parable. Sr. Dorothy tried to preserve what the poor possessed and would not, like the steward who buried his talent, collaborate with the system. He and the other stewards all know that the master is a rapacious aristocrat, except that the others know they need to make a 100% profit; that they have to do his dirty work of exploiting others for profit. But the third steward tells the master what all the poor wished they could: the master is a parasite, living off the labour of others without return to the peasants. By burying the money, he takes it out of circulation, where it can no longer be used to dispossess more peasants from their lands by usurious loans.

He was awake to the rules of the ‘invisible hand of the market’ and of his contemporary world and would not comply with them. It led to dispossession and banishment as with Jesus, who also stands before the rulers and powers, speaks the truth [or blows the whistle on them] and is banished [put to death]. The ‘hell’ experienced is the experience of being ostracised from the dominant culture.  As the so-called ‘lazy’ steward with one talent is thrown out while the others are rewarded, we see a resistance to oppression in the system and refusal to cooperate with the ‘harsh task master’. So, by being thrown out, he is the one who is free. It is in this place of ‘outer darkness’ that we might find Christ.

This connects with next week’s gospel – in the story of the sheep and the goats. We find Christ outside the centres of power, in the marginal areas; on the peripheries; in places of pain and marginality; the places of ‘outer darkness’. This is where the hungry, the sick, prisoners, the strangers and the naked are; this is where the indigenous people, the asylum seekers, the mentally ill, the street people, the drug affected, the vilified gay and lesbian people, the whistle-blowers are. This is where we mysteriously meet Christ. The slave who was cast into the ‘outer darkness’ stands in opposition to the dominant system and culture and is brought close to the one who is at the Heart of the Universe and who lives with the poor and the oppressed.

Gospel living and loving require courage and risk taking. We are reminded today that peace, justice and equality are God’s intention for our lives. They come about by taking the risk of being thrown into the ‘outer darkness’. Some things that appear to be fearless or courageous are not. The kind that is ‘real’ risk being ostracised, come out of an attempt to engage in the world where there is positive action for good, transformation, peace and justice. Real hope fuelled by positive action.