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 FEAST OF CHRIST THE KING/ HEART OF THE UNIVERSE.

christ the king

Solemnity of Christ, Heart of the Universe
[Feast of Christ the King]
November 26, 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.

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Blessed are you peacemakers

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Blessed are you peacemakers,

who say no to war as a means to peace.

Blessed are you peacemakers,

who are committed to disarm weapons of mass destruction.

Blessed are you peacemakers,

who wage peace at heroic personal cost.

Blessed are you peacemakers,

who challenge and confront judges, courts & prisons.

Blessed are the peacemakers,

who help those who are hurting.

Blessed are the peacemakers,

who befriend perfect strangers.

Blessed are the peacemakers,

who open doors for acting justly,

loving tenderly and walking humbly with God

and all people of good will.

Blessed are the peacemakers,

who welcome, encourage and inspire.

Blessed are the peacemakers,

who offer hope and healing.

Blessed are the peacemakers,

who care and comfort.

Blessed are the peacemakers,

who help find answers.

Blessed are the peacemakers,

who provide stability not insanity.

Blessed are the peacemakers,

who help restore faith and love.

Blessed are the peacemakers,

who delight in creation, art & creativity.

Blessed are the peacemakers,

who see the good in others.

Blessed are the peacemakers,

who never give up.

Blessed are the peacemakers,

who give and give and give.

Fr. Paul Milanowski Grand Rapids, Michigan

Reading

First Reading:                      Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-17

Responsorial Psalm:          Ps 23:1-2, 2-3, 5-6

Second Reading:                1st Corinthians 15:20-26, 28

Gospel Reading:                 Matthew 25:31-46

Penitential Rite

1.       Christ Jesus, you looked for the lost ones, bandaged the wounded and made the weak strong. Jesus, have mercy.

2.       Christ Jesus, you came to gather together those scattered in the mist and the darkness:  Christ, have mercy.

3.       Christ Jesus, you identified with the hungry and the sick, with strangers and with those in prison: Jesus, have mercy.

or

1.        Jesus, you came to be the servant of all people, who are sick, vulnerable and marginalised. Jesus, have mercy.

2.       Jesus, in your total commitment to love, you laid down you life for all. Christ, have mercy. .

3.        Jesus, you did not seek power and privilege, but established your Reign on truth and love. Jesus, have mercy.

Opening Prayer

God of the poor,

Jesus, your Son, was born among us.

Open our eyes, our hearts and our hands

and may our love free, bold and inclusive

as we welcome him in those who are hungry and thirsty,

in those who are abandoned and lonely,

in refugees, the poor and the sick.

or

God and Heart of the Universe

the mystery of Jesus’ reign

over every age and nation illumines our lives.

Open our hearts, and remove from us,

every desire for privilege and power

and direct us in the love of Christ

to care for the least of our brothers and sisters.

Prayers of the Faithful (Intercession)

Introduction: Brothers and sisters, let us pray today for those Jesus calls the least ones, and as we pray, let us also ask God for the grace to recognise opportunities to act on behalf of those for whom we pray.

Response: Heart of the Universe, may you reign in us.

  1. Make your Reign visible in those who cry out for justice and hospitality when people who are driven from their homes because of war and civil strife, let us pray: Heart of the Universe, may you reign in us.

  1. Make your Reign visible in all whose voices cry out on behalf of those who  hunger for food, thirst for justice and those stripped of their human dignity, let us pray: Heart of the Universe, may you reign in us.

  1. Make your Reign visible in all  who are prisoners of conscience, those who are persecuted for their beliefs, all the defenders of the environment and those who struggle for their freedom, let us pray: Heart of the Universe, may you reign in us.

4.       Make you Reign visible in our political and religious leaders so that they will listen in order to speak words of peace and make concrete gestures of peace in our world, let us pray: Heart of the Universe, may you reign in us.

  1. Make your Reign visible in the Church, that it may always follow in the path of Jesus, who did not come to be served but to serve, let us pray: Heart of the Universe, may you reign in us.

  1. Make your Reign visible in all who exercise power and authority in this world, that like Jesus, they may accept power as a means to a service that is more universal and effective, let us pray: Heart of the Universe, may you reign in us.

  1. Make your Reign visible in people who cannot to see the God of love and diversity in their lives, and in those who attempt to impose a religion that present an intolerant and demanding God, let us pray: Heart of the Universe, may you reign in us.

  1. Make your reign visible in all churches and faiths through inter-religious dialogue and that people may be strong in their love, service and compassion, let us pray: Heart of the Universe, may you reign in us.

  1. Make your reign visible where people are in need and pain, especially as we approach World AIDS Day, that people in Africa, Asia and the Pacific who still live with HIV/AIDS; and may we all work to overcome fear, shame, ignorance and injustice against them, let us pray: Heart of the Universe, may you reign in us.

10.    Make your reign visible in those women and men who strive to eliminate violence against women and children which devastates lives and families, and fractures communities, let us pray: Heart of the Universe, may you reign in us.

11.     Make your reign visible for the media-forgotten people of West Papua, Western Sahara, the Horn of Africa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq and Afghanistan, the people of Palestine – Jewish and Arab, and all people who suffer persecution of any kind……. [a moment of silence]……… let us pray: Heart of the Universe, may you reign in us.

12.    Make your Reign visible in our country as people seek responsibility, honesty, fairness and all that is necessary to live in peace with each other and with all nations of the world, let us pray: Heart of the Universe, may you reign in us.

13.     Make your Reign visible in those who cannot be with us today: those who are ill, in pain or living with a debilitating condition; let us pray: Heart of the Universe, may you reign in us.

Concluding Prayer: Heart of the Universe, you sent us your Son Jesus as a servant to establish your reign among us. Grant us the strength and all that we need to live as members of that reign by promoting a dialogue of love, justice, truth and life for all and live out your Gospel message here on earth. We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Prayer over the Gifts

God of the poor,

this is the bread you give us

to share with the poor

and the wine you call us to drink

in solidarity with all who suffer.

In these signs, may Jesus come among us,

give us the love and the strength

to meet him in our world.

or

God and Heart of the Universe,

show us your living presence

in Christ Jesus, your Son.

As we offer these gifts,

may the Spirit sustain our hope

and inspire us to generously build up

a world that is human, peaceful and just.

Prayer after Communion

God of the poor,

in this Eucharist

we have given thanks and praise to you

and acclaimed Jesus, as heart of our lives.

May the bread we have shared

gather us as your people

and strengthen us to serve you in the other

so that we may be to the world,

a sign of your presence.

or

God and Heart of the Universe,

in this Eucharist,

we recognise Jesus, the Centre of our lives,

May we respond by becoming, like him,

people who live for others,

by being instruments of your healing

and turn us into makers of peace

where your peace reigns in the hearts of all people.

Parish Notices

November 29 UN International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People

November 29 Death of Dorothy Day, Found of the Catholic Worker Movement, 1980

November 29 Meeting of Pope John Paul ll with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People, Alice Springs, 1986

December 1 World AIDS Day The national World AIDS Day theme for Australia in 2017 is: HIV is still here - and it's on the move.

Further Resources

If you are thinking a year ahead, sow seed.

If you are thinking ten years ahead, plant a tree.

If you are thinking 100 years ahead, make people aware.

By sowing seed once, you will harvest once.

By planting a tree, you will harvest ten-fold.

By opening the minds of people, you will harvest 100-fold.

Chinese proverb

I believe in aristocracy…… not an aristocracy of power, based on rank and influence, but an aristocracy of the sensitive, the considerate, and the plucky.  Its members are found in all nations and classes, and through all the ages, and there is a secret understanding between them when they meet. They represent the true human tradition, the one queer victory over cruelty and chaos.

E.M. Forster

The guaranteeing of basic justice for all is not an optional expression of largesse but an inescapable duty for the whole of society.

US Bishops, Economic Justice for All, #120

Poor and vulnerable people have a special place in Catholic social teaching. A basic moral test of a society is how its most vulnerable members are faring. This is not a new insight; it is the lesson of the parable of the Last Judgment (see Matthew 25). Our tradition calls us to put the needs of the poor and the vulnerable first. As Christians, we are called to respond to the needs of all our sisters and brothers, but those with the greatest needs require the greatest response.

U.S. Catholic Bishops, A Century of Social Teaching, 6-7

Today in our situation the authenticity of the people of God goes by way of poverty and justice: they are the touchstone of the truth of the faith that is professed and of the genuineness of life as it is lived out: poverty, which involves incarnating all our efforts and incarnating ourselves in the reality of the oppressed majorities, and that will necessarily entail a voluntary impoverishment and abnegation on the part of those who wield power; justice, which involves giving to the people what belongs to the people and struggling to uproot injustice and exploitation, and to establish a new earth, wherein the life of the new human may be possible.

Ignacio Ellacuría SJ, martyred in ElSalvador in 1989

For if every [man] were to regard the persons of others as his own person, who would inflict pain and injury on others? If they regarded the homes of others as their own homes, who would rob the homes of others? Thus in that case there would be no brigands and robbers. If the princes regarded other countries as their own, who would wage war on other countries? This in that case there would be no more war.

Hillel, first century A.D. rabbi

There are no boundaries in this struggle to the death. We cannot be indifferent to what happens anywhere in the world, for a victory by any country over imperialism is our victory.

Ernesto Che Guevara

The World Peace Prayer

Lead me from death to life

From falsehood to truth

Lead me from despair to hope

From fear to trust

Lead me from hate to love

From war to peace

Let peace fill our hearts,

our world, our universe

Unknown

Tell me the truth about war

A coalition of the willing declared war

but did not explain why,

or the reasons they gave

were not the real reasons

and something called a dodgy dossier

became as smelly as the exam papers

of a schoolboy who cheated.

One leader is an evangelist,

another a true believer,

each hooked on the catechisms of their convictions

and would be lost without reference to their God

though non-believers

have questioned the sacred texts

and have asked for evidence.

An evil man was supposed

to be able to destroy his opponents

with mighty weapons in forty-five minutes

but the leaders who wanted to eliminate a dictator

also needed to throw their weight around,

use their weapons

to convince the world of their truth:

by killing people to protect them

they would be welcomed in the streets,

by installing puppet governments

their armies could demonstrate democracy at work,

which was another good reason for having a war.

Stuart Rees, Director, Sydney Peace Foundation

How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in life you will have been all of these.

George Washington Carver, 1864-1943

Wars throughout history have been waged for conquest and plunder.... the working class who fight all the battles, the working class who make the supreme sacrifices, the working class who freely shed their blood and furnish their corpses, have never yet had a voice in either declaring war or making peace. It is the ruling class that invariably does both. They alone declare war and they alone make peace....They are continually talking about their patriotic duty. It is not their but your patriotic duty that they are concerned about. There is a decided difference. Their patriotic duty never takes them to the firing line or chucks them into the trenches.

Eugene Debs, 1855-1926

To care for anyone else enough to make their problems one's own, is ever the beginning of one's real ethical development.

Felix Adler

....when we finally know we are dying, and all other sentient beings are dying with us, we start to have a burning, almost heartbreaking sense of the fragility and preciousness of each moment and each being, and from this can grow a deep, clear, limitless compassion for all beings

Sogyal Rinpoche

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

Thomas Jefferson

In the struggle of Good against Evil, it's always the people who get killed.

Eduardo Galeano

Another nation is made out to be utterly depraved and fiendish, while one's own nation stands for everything that is good and noble. Every action of the enemy is judged by one standard - every action of oneself by another. Even good deeds by the enemy are considered a sign of particular devilishness, meant to deceive us and the world, while our bad deeds are necessary and justified by our noble goals, which they serve.

Eric Fromm

Christmas is a time when kids tell Santa what they want and adults pay for it. Deficits are when adults tell the government what they want and their kids pay for it.

Richard Lamm [Richard Douglas ‘Dick’ Lamm] (1935- ) American politician, lawyer, governor of Colorado (D) (1975-1987), 1996 US presidential candidate for the Reform Party

The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it... Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate... Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

Martin Luther King, Jr., (1929-1968), US civil rights leader

We have no more right to consume happiness without producing it than to consume wealth without producing it.

George Bernard Shaw, 1856-1950,

We have no reason to harbor any mistrust against our world, for it is not against us.

If it has terrors, they are our terrors;

if it has abysses, these abysses belong to us;

if there are dangers, we must try to love them. . . .

How could we forget those ancient myths

that stand at the beginning of all races,

the myths about dragons that

at the last moment are transformed into princesses?

Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses

who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage.

Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence,

something helpless that wants our love.

Rainer Maria Rilke

May people learn to fight for justice without violence,

renouncing class struggle in their internal disputes,

and war in international ones.

John Paul II, Centesimus Annus, 23

The individual today is often suffocated between two poles represented by the State and the marketplace. At times it seems as though the individual exists only as a producer and consumer of goods, or as an object of State administration. People lose sight of the fact that life in society has neither the market nor the State as its final purpose.

John Paul II, Centesimus Annus,

We must repeat that the superfluous goods of wealthier nations ought to be placed at the disposal of poorer nations. The rule, by virtue of which in times past those nearest us were to be helped in time of need, applies today to all the needy throughout the world. And the prospering peoples will be the first to benefit from this. Continuing avarice on their part will arouse the judgment of God and the wrath of the poor, with consequences no one can foresee. If prosperous nations continue to be jealous of their own advantage alone, they will jeopardize their highest values, sacrificing the pursuit of excellence to the acquisition of possessions. We might well apply to them the parable of the rich man. His fields yielded an abundant harvest and he did not know where to store it: 'But God said to him, ‘Fool, this very night your soul will be demanded from you.

Paul VI, Populorum Progressio, 49

Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all other countries because you were born in it.

George Bernard Shaw

When a whole nation is roaring patriotism at the top of its voice, I am fain to explore the cleanness of its hands and purity of its heart

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Find out just what people will quietly submit to, and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed on them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.

Frederick Douglass, African-American slave, and later abolitionist.

To plunder, to slaughter, to steal, these things they misname empire; and where they make a wilderness, they call it peace.

Tacitus

Throughout the history of the United States, war has been the primary impetus behind the growth and development of the central state. It has been the lever by which presidents and other national officials have bolstered the power of the state in the face of tenacious popular resistance.

Bruce D. Porter

An elder Cherokee Native American was teaching his grandchildren about life. He said to them: ‘A fight is going on inside me...It is a terrible fight, and it is between two wolves. One wolf represents fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, pride and superiority. The other wolf stands for joy, peace, love, hope, sharing, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, friendship, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. This same fight is going on inside of you and every other person too.’

They thought about it for a minute and then one child asked his grandfather, ‘Which wolf will win?’ The old Cherokee simply replied...’The one I feed.’

The crucified Jesus embodies the exact opposite of the patriarchal ideal of the powerful man, and shows the steep price to be paid in the struggle for liberation.

Elizabeth Johnson CSJ, She Who Is, 159-160

Today in our situation the authenticity of the people of God goes by way of poverty and justice: they are the touchstone of the truth of the faith that is professed and of the genuineness of life as it is lived out: poverty, which involves incarnating all our efforts and incarnating ourselves in the reality of the oppressed majorities, and that will necessarily entail a voluntary impoverishment and abnegation on the part of those who wield power; justice, which involves giving to the people what belongs to the people and struggling to uproot injustice and exploitation, and to establish a new earth, wherein the life of the new human may be possible.

Ignacio Ellacuría SJ, martyred in El Salvador 1989

Peace is not merely the absence of war.

Nor can it be reduced solely

to the maintenance of a balance of power between enemies.

Nor is it brought about by dictatorship.

Instead, it is rightly and appropriately called 'an enterprise of justice' (Is. 32:7).

Peace results from that harmony built into human society by its divine founder,

and actualized by men and women as they thirst after ever greater justice.

Second Vatican Council, The Church in the Modern World, #78

Peace and international law are closely linked to each other: Law favors peace. Democratic governments know well that the use of force against terrorists cannot justify a renunciation of the principles of the rule of law.

Pope John Paul II from a statement on the 2004 International Day of Peace

We have adopted the incredible decision of preemption. With this system of preemption and the unilateral nature of it as practiced by the administration, we have established a foreign policy which is unsustainable in a world that we hope will be governed by peace rather than by war. As a consequence, we are on a very dangerous course not only for the US, but for civilization.

Walter Cronkite,  2004

It has been said that there is no true person unless there are two entering into communication with one another. The isolated individual is not a real person. A real person is one who lives in and for others. And the more personal relationships we form with others, the more we truly realize ourselves as persons.

Metropolitan Kallistos Ware, English bishop within the Greek Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarchate

The most lovable quality any human being can possess is tolerance.... It is the vision that enables one to see things from another’s viewpoint.... It is the generosity that concedes to others the right to their own opinions and their own peculiarities... It is the bigness that enables us to let people be happy in their own way instead of our way.

Unknown

It is the basic principle of spiritual life that we learn the deepest things in unknown territory. Often it is when we feel most confused inwardly and are in the midst of our greatest difficulties that something new will open. We awaken most easily to the mystery of life through our weakest side. The areas of our greatest strength, where we are the most competent and clearest, tend to keep us away from the mystery.

Jack Kornfield

From the Incarnation springs the whole doctrine of sacraments — the indwelling of the mortal by the immortal, of the material by the spiritual, the phenomenal by the real… A sure mark of Catholic Christianity is the honoring of the ‘holy and glorious flesh,’ and indeed of all material things, because they are sacraments and symbols of the Divine glory.

Dorothy L. Sayers

Be true to yourself and you cannot be a traitor to any good cause on earth.

Eugene Debs, 1855-1926

‘It is the minorities who have made the history of this world. It is the few who have had the courage to take their places at the front; who have been true enough to themselves to speak the truth that was in them; who have dared oppose the established order of things; who have espoused the cause of the suffering, struggling poor; who have upheld without regard to personal consequences the cause of freedom and righteousness. It is they, the heroic, self-sacrificing few who have made the history of the race and who have paved the way from barbarism to civilization. The many prefer to remain upon the popular side.

Eugene Debs, 1855-1926

It's easy to blame the poor for being poor. It's easy to believe that the world is being caught up in an escalating spiral of terrorism and war. That's what allows George Bush to say, ‘You're either with us or with the terrorists.' But that's a spurious choice. Terrorism is only the privatization of war. Terrorists are the free marketers of war. They believe that the legitimate use of violence is not the sole prerogative of the state.

Arundhati Roy From lecture upon receiving the 2004 Sydney Peace Prize 2 Nov 2004

The salvation brought by Christ is continually being offered to us, that it may bear abundant fruits of goodness in keeping with the plan of God who wishes to save all God's children, especially those who have gone away from God and are looking for the way back. The Good Shepherd is always going in search of the lost sheep, and when he finds them he puts them on his shoulders and brings them back to the flock. Christ is in search of every human being, whatever the situation!

Pope John Paul II, Jubilee Message for those in Prisons, July 9, 2000

The guaranteeing of basic justice for all is not an optional expression of largesse but an inescapable duty for the whole of society.

U.S. Catholic Bishops, Economic Justice for All, #120

The arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

There is also a danger of using this story in too simplistic a way. Most people will recognize themselves as being both ‘sheep’ and ‘goats.’ Most people have at some time answered the call to respond to those in need. Most people at some time have also failed to respond to those in need.

All of us are called to be aware humbly of both realities in our personal life and in the life of our culture and our nation. Otherwise, we will fall into the trap of condemnation and ideology. We might then judge the world in unfair categories of us and them--good people and bad people. If we do this, we run the risk of simplifying the gospel message and preventing it from having its full power. We would also forget that judgment ultimately belongs to God. Our awareness of the injustices of our world will empower us to grow and change and be filled with life in solidarity with God and others, ‘so that God may be all in all.’

I'd rather be a naive fool than be cynical. I don't mind being called a fool if I'm foolishly believing in a better world.  It sounds cheesy, but why else be alive?  Honestly.  What else is there?  It's worth living to be happy, to have a nice house, to have a good marriage, and to raise kids, and I want to do those things.  But the bigger question...what's the point of being alive if you're not hopeful that you can do a little something to make the world a little better?

Greg Halpern, as told to Studs Terkel (‘Making Their Voices Heard,’ HOPE magazine, November/December 2003, Number 40, page 16)

From the Republic of Conscience

When I landed in the republic of conscience

it was so noiseless when the engines stopped

I could hear a curlew high above the runway.

At immigration, the clerk was an old man

who produced a wallet from his homespun coat

and showed me a photograph of my grandfather.

The woman in customs asked me to declare

the words of our traditional cures and charms

to heal dumbness and avert the evil eye.

No porters. No interpreter. No taxi.

You carried your own burden and very soon

your symptoms of creeping privilege disappeared.

Fog is a dreaded omen there but lightning

spells universal good and parents hang

swaddled infants in trees during thunderstorms.

Salt is their precious mineral. And seashells

are held to the ear during births and funerals.

The base of all inks and pigments is seawater.

Their sacred symbol is a stylized boat.

The sail is an ear, the mast a sloping pen,

the hull a mouth-shape, the keel an open eye.

At their inauguration, public leaders

must swear to uphold unwritten law and weep

to atone for their presumption to hold office –

and to affirm their faith that all life sprang

from salt in tears which the sky-god wept

after he dreamt his solitude was endless.

I came back from that frugal republic

with my two arms the one length, the customs

woman having insisted my allowance was myself.

The old man rose and gazed into my face

and said that was official recognition

that I was now a dual citizen.

He therefore desired me when I got home

to consider myself a representative

and to speak on their behalf in my own tongue.

Their embassies, he said, were everywhere

but operated independently

and no ambassador would ever be relieved.

Seamus Heaney. From the Republic of Conscience, from Opened Ground: Selected Poems 1966-1996

This Holy Earth

In the name of every muscle in our bodies, we beseech you

In the name of the feather, the sun, the mountain, the river, the otter, the salmon, the pine and the stone

In the name of babies, now and forever more, and of lovers, and of sex.

In the name of the breathing, pushing, spreading, decaying, pulsing earth beneath our gills, our roots, our talons, our hooves and our bare skinned feet:

Help us.

Help us easily distracted, heartbreakingly self-centered, brilliant and beautiful big-brained creatures,

Us business-as-usual, new-on-the-planet, slow-moving, deep loving creatures

Help us to remember that this wondrously intelligent orb has generated living art beyond anything we will ever hope to approximate

24 hours a day

For six billion years –

Help us to remember that we can seize the power

That we can raise our voices

That we can flood the courtrooms, the schoolrooms, the boardrooms,

the email, voice mail, letters to the editor, the streets, the banks, the churches and the temples

That we can rise up in power on behalf of all those who live in tree, cave, hive, village, dam, river, ocean, and suburb.

That we can rise up on behalf of all we love and all that keeps us alive.

We beseech you: visible and invisible,

wild and tame, past, present and future.

Have mercy on us human beings.

Help us give birth to the human race.

Libby Roderick Singer and Composer, Turtle Island Records Anchorage, Alaska © 2000

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

(Out in Scripture)

Reflection

Whenever any of us attempt to go into the world of ‘the other’ a confronting question emerges that demands self-awareness and honesty: how does on get past the front gate of one’s own world. To get into that world one needs to really listen to the story of the other whether it is a woman who is being abused; young person with sexual identity issues; the person who is homeless or the person who is seeking refugee and security means leaving our world and going into the world of another. I know from experience it becomes very to hate the ‘other’ because the ‘other’ ceases to be ‘other’ to me. One realises how much we are alike and that there is must to share. But a change in ourselves is required. It means getting past the front gate of my own world with its stereotypes, biases, belief systems and prejudices which imprison us and realise that there is a person at the other end of these stereotypes, biases and prejudice. It seems to be message that Pope Francis is constantly holding up before us. That our contact with ‘the other’ means taking on the ‘smell’ of the other.

Today’s gospel can get us caught up in endless discussions as to who are the poor and who might be most deserving and undeserving where we fall into the trap of blaming people for the situation they find themselves in: they are lazy, they are dishonest, they cannot be trusted, the squander their money, or God forbid, they drink.

The gospel is asking us today – who do we see? Is Jesus saying something about how we are called to approach ‘the other’ as God has done constantly with us and humanity throughout history? It seems that we are called first of all to stand with ‘the other’ and communicate a willingness to be among her or him so that she or he is no long ‘the other’ but one of us. Unfortunately, even church organisations and other non-governmental organisations easily lose sight of the fact that at the end of all our theories and abstractions there are persond at the other end.

Todays reading describe where God’s heart and passion reside and has always been. Jesus shows us the face and heart of God which is moved by the needs of people most often looked upon as ‘other’, as marginalised. In Ezekiel God is depicted as ‘up close and personal’ and attentive to the most vulnerable: ‘I, myself will tend my sheep. The lost I will seek out, the injured I will bind up, the sick I will heal.’ These are the words of One who is intimately affected by those whose well-being is forgotten or abused. In Australia, we could count Indigenous people and asylum seekers amongst these. But are we able to make the connections. Today, that heart also calls us to be attentive to another that is often marginalised – our common home, our Earth – which is also abused and trashed as is the image of God in our sisters and brothers. This God is dynamically active on behalf of suffering people to relieve their misery and bring them to wholeness.

This the context of today’s gospel where Jesus’ identity is revealed in the ‘others’ among us. ‘Whatever you did for the least of my brothers and sisters you did for ME!! God becomes the least among us – even the most vulnerable part of ourselves that needs healing. We are reminded that God in Jesus chooses most to be encountered in those considered as most lowly and undeserving: the hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, the stranger and those in need of healing of any kind. But part of this is that we need to be freed from our own blindnesses where we do not see the divine in those who are most marginalised.

We might ask the same question that the sheep and goats asked in the gospel reading: When did we see you hungry and feed you or thirsty and give you drink? Jesus might respond: When you gazed into the eyes of a starving child and decided to contribute to a food bank; when you held the hand of a person dying alone; when you listened to the story of a refugee and worked to create just immigration laws; when you defended the rights of all people regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, or creed; when you realized the violence of poverty, senseless shootings and war and chose instead to become a non-violent, peaceful presence to victims of crime; when you recognized the degradation of Earth and decided to work to renew our planet’s resources so that all peoples could share clean water, healthy food and the enjoyment of creation’s beauty. In God’s world, our choices have cosmic implications.

Catholic social teaching suggests we need not just change individual behaviours but the social structures that create misery for human beings as well as for all life forms on our planet and in our cosmos. We are challenged to take action on behalf of justice that resists powerful vested interests. We are summoned to face political and economic issues and make decisions about the well-being of all who share life with us now and those who will come after us. At the Bonn Climate Conference held a few weeks ago, it was clear that many people from vulnerable nations affected by climate change – whether from Asia, the Pacific Island nations, Africa or Latin America in particular, were calling for a solidarity in commitment to overturn structures that affect the lives of people not only today but very much into the future. We were constantly reminded by these vulnerable and threatened peoples that we (all people) are in the same ‘canoe’. We cannot be indifferent to their pleas as if they do not affect us.

Today’s feast is about the good news of Christ’s presence in all creation. There is a constant call for us to bring into alignment everything that is bent, to protect the vulnerable, and to contribute to its flourishing. We are invited to be a blessing for others by doing justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly with God.

For Jesus, compassion is the ultimate and decisive criterion to judge our lives and our identification with him. The only question to be put before us is what have we done for those who suffered in life? And we have seen much rationalising to avoid this question when it comes to the so-called underserving asylum seekers who have entered our country; the gay and lesbian people who seek equity before the law as we saw recently. The dialogue in the gospel suggests there are two ways to respond to suffering people: to be compassionate and be in solidarity with them, or walk away and abandon them. Having just returned last night from the Bonn Climate Conference it is still uppermost in my mind but cannot be ignore. As I indicated as many vulnerable nations sought to be heard for a positive response to protecting our ‘common home’ no such calls came from the ‘big polluters’ – many of which did not attend. But in all this, we the President of the Conference remind people that we are really all in one canoe. Climate change is not just about storms, hurricanes, floods, fires, droughts but about people and other living things. Three years ago, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told our then Prime Minister that climate change ‘won't stop at the Pacific islands’. The real issue is that as soon as people hear about ‘climate change’ they switch off and stop reading or listening. It is going to cost in terms of conversion and money. Pope Francis’ words about ‘market priorities’ apply: ‘Perhaps we have paid too little heed to those who are hungry. It is painful to see that the struggle against hunger and malnutrition is hindered by ‘market priorities’, the ‘primacy of profit’, which have reduced foodstuffs to a commodity like any other, subject to speculation, also of a financial nature….And while we speak of new rights, the hungry remain, at the street corner, and ask to be recognised as citizens, to receive a healthy diet. We ask for dignity, not for charity.’

The challenge for us is where do we find ourselves today? How will we as a nation, as a community and as individuals be known for our compassion, our care for the poor and the earth, providing the basic necessities of life, the demands of justice: food, water, clothing, shelter, medicine, and freedom from oppression? Are we living a gospel of convenience? Do we define religious observance by what we do on Sunday in church? No matter how correct our practice of ‘in-house religion,’ the parable makes clear that worshiping Jesus in church and saying prayers at home must be accompanied by devotion to him in the world. We know from the gospel where Jesus’ priorities are.

In this famous woodcut by Fritz Eichenberg, ‘The Christ of the Breadlines,’ Jesus is depicted as the central figure in a dark line of homeless, hungry and vulnerable people. The list of the vulnerable has only grown since the writing of Matthew’s gospel. It is the billion people who go to bed every night with little or no food; the millions of people worldwide dealing with severe drought; the millions of people infected with the most difficult and pernicious illnesses; it is those people imprisoned in their own countries and Guantanamo Bay, Gaza and people trapped in brutality and corruption. The question is, where is Jesus among the lines of suffering humanity today? We encounter Jesus daily and often we are unaware of it. It occurs in the little acts of solidarity and compassion, the acts of raising our voices, of questioning decisions and dissenting injustices on behalf of others. We are called to stay awake, be alert and have courage; to be part of the movement for peace and justice where they become mainstream rather than being left to a few individuals.

There is a subversive quality to the reality of the reign. Those who see it and understand it better are those from the margins of society rather than the powerful and those at the centre. As Phil Glendenning from the Edmund Rice Centre said recently, ‘The truth of the Gospel will not be revealed at the centre; you have to go to the edges.’

To Mercy, Pity, Peace and Love

All pray in their distress

And return these virtues of delight

Return their thankfulness.

For Mercy has a human heart,

Pity a human face,

And Love--the human form divine,

And Peace, the human dress.

And all must love the human form,

In Heathen, Turk or Jew;

Where Mercy, Love and Pity dwell

There is God dwelling too.

William Blake