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, SECOND SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TTIME

 second sunday

Image result for 1 Sm 3:3b-10, 19

January 14th, 2018

Suggested formula for recognition of indigenous people and their land.

We acknowledge the traditional owners and custodians of the land
on which we stand.
We pay our respects to them and for their care of the land.

May we walk gently and respectfully upon the land.

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.

‘We have passed beyond the imaginable limits of violence.

Can we pass equally beyond the imaginable limits of non-violence?’

11ordinarioB202_to_bCalling DisciplesEpiphany 1 2015 Simon, Thomas, nathanael, James                  and John

‘They saw where he was staying and they stayed with him’.   John 1:35-42

Readings

First reading 1 Samuel 3:3b-10, 19

Responsorial Psalm Psalm 40:2, 4, 7-8, 8-9, 10 R. Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.

Second Reading 1 Corinthians 6:13c-15a, 17-20

Gospel John 1:35-42

Penitential Rite

1.       Christ Jesus, you listen to the cry of your people. Jesus, have mercy.

2.      Christ Jesus, you guide us in the ways of peace. Christ, have mercy.

3.       Christ Jesus, you draw others into your circle of peace. Jesus, have mercy.

Opening Prayer

God and Source of our hope,

your watchful care

extends to the ends of the Earth.

Attend with kindness

to the cries of your people

and guide us in the ways of peace.

Prayer over the Gifts

God and Source of our hope,

as we present these gifts of bread and wine,

may we be open

to your presence and truth in our hearts

and reflect peace to those we encounter.

Prayer after Communion

God and Source of our hope,

we have encountered Jesus

in the Word and Eucharist.

May we listen to the cry of all people and of the earth.

Guide us each day in the way of your peace

so that we may draw others into Christ’s circle of peace.

Prayers of the Faithful

Introduction: Let us pray to the God and source of our hope that we may listen to the many voices that reveal God’s word to us and respond with courage and persistence. We pray in response: We come to do your will, O God.

  1. As Church, may it remain connected to the realities of human life and experience in the world by listening with openness to hear the ‘whispers’ of God through the stories and experiences of people – especially those most marginalised and oppressed, we pray: We come to do your will, O God.

  1. As a people called to be peace makers in our world, may we strive in our lives to join with all those who work for peace and the betterment of humankind, we pray: We come to do your will, O God.

  1. As brothers and sisters of the Israeli and Palestinian people, we pray that both sides in this ongoing conflict will leave behind their roles in government, politics and the military and recognise their own humanity and the humanity of the other, we pray: We come to do your will, O God.

4.      As citizens and disciples of Jesus may we resist deceit, spuriousness, pride and calculated dishonesty in government and the cultivation of behaviour and attitudes that attack the peace and harmony of the community, we pray: We come to do your will, O God.

5.       As members of God’s people may we protest with endurance against injustice in society and be moved by integrity and truth rather than by the need to succeed or avoid conflict, we pray:  We come to do your will, O God.

6.      As people of the Earth, may we strive to overcome the separation between humanity and nature, and see ourselves as more and more and more a part of nature that calls for reverence, mindfulness and respect, we pray:  We come to do your will, O God.

7.       As people of the Universe, may we know more deeply that are all intertwined in the community of life and called to look broadly and deeply at our relationships and our responsibilities to all, we pray:  We come to do your will, O God.

Concluding Prayer: God, our hope, you are a listening God. Hear our prayers and give us your Spirit that we may enter more and more into the lives of people so that we may see you presence in them.

Further Resources

Silence is the ocean of the unsaid, the unspeakable, the repressed, the erased, the unheard. It surrounds the scattered islands made up of those allowed to speak and of what can be said and who listens. Silence occurs in many ways for many reasons; each of us has his or her own sea of unspoken words.

Rebecca Solnit The Mother of All Questions

Words bring us together, and silence separates us, leaves us bereft of the help or solidarity or just communion that speech can solicit or elicit.

[…]

We are our stories, stories that can be both prison and the crowbar to break open the door of that prison; we make stories to save ourselves or to trap ourselves or others, stories that lift us up or smash us against the stone wall of our own limits and fears. Liberation is always in part a storytelling process: breaking stories, breaking silences, making new stories. A free person tells her own story. A valued person lives in a society in which her story has a place.

Rebecca Solnit The Mother of All Questions

If the right to speak, if having credibility, if being heard is a kind of wealth, that wealth is now being redistributed. There has long been an elite with audibility and credibility, an underclass of the voiceless. As the wealth is redistributed, the stunned incomprehension of the elites erupts over and over again, a fury and disbelief that this woman or child dared to speak up, that people deigned to believe her, that her voice counts for something, that her truth may end a powerful man’s reign. These voices, heard, upend power relations.

[…]

Who is heard and who is not defines the status quo. Those who embody it, often at the cost of extraordinary silences with themselves, move to the center; those who embody what is not heard or what violates those who rise on silence are cast out. By redefining whose voice is valued, we redefine our society and its values.

Rebecca Solnit The Mother of All Questions

The struggle to maintain peace is immeasurably more difficult than any military operation.

Anne O'Hare McCormick, first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for foreign correspondence

Peace can only last where human rights are respected, where people are fed, and where individuals and nations are free

Dalai Lama

It isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it.

Eleanor Roosevelt, in a 1951 radio broadcast

Religion without humanity is poor human stuff

Sojourner Truth

Our own small stone of activism, which might not seem to measure up to the rugged boulders of heroism we have so admired, is a paltry offering toward the building of an edifice of hope ... For we can do nothing substantial toward changing our course on the planet, a destructive one, without rousing ourselves, individual by individual, and bringing our small, imperfect stones to the pile.

Alice Walker, The Impossible Will Take a Little While: A Citizen's Guide to Hope in a Time of Fear

Ultimately, we have just one moral duty: to reclaim large areas of peace in ourselves, more and more peace, and to reflect it towards others. And the more peace there is in us, the more peace there will also be in our troubled world.

Etty Hillesum, died in Auschwitz in 1943 at the age of 29. From An Interrupted Life, a compilation of her diaries and letters

It is so much easier sometimes to sit down and be resigned than to rise up and be indignant.

Nellie McClung, In Times Like These

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

Peace, peace, peace

Satish Kumar

Action is the antidote to despair.

Joan Baez, Singer, songwriter, and activist.

I have long since come to believe that people never mean half of what they say, and that it is best to disregard their talk and judge only their actions.

Dorothy Day, The Long Loneliness

Now is the time for a new 'creativity' in charity, not only by ensuring that help is effective but also by 'getting close' to those who suffer, so that the hand that helps is seen not as a humiliating handout but as a sharing between brothers and sisters.

Pope John Paul II, Centesimus Annus

Solidarity is learned through 'contact' rather than through 'concepts,' and should permeate the sphere of being before that of acting.

Pope John Paul II, May 5, 2000

When the heart is touched by direct experience, the mind may be challenged to change.

Personal involvement with innocent suffering, with the injustice others suffer,

is the catalyst for solidarity which then gives rise to intellectual inquiry and moral reflection.’

Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, SJ, former Superior General of the Society of Jesus

In the days ahead we must not consider it unpatriotic to raise certain basic questions about our national character. We must begin to ask, 'Why are there forty million poor people in a nation overflowing with such unbelievable affluence? Why has our nation placed itself in the position of being God's military agent on earth...? Why have we substituted the arrogant undertaking of policing the whole world for the high task of putting our own house in order?'

Martin Luther King, Jr.

There'll be two dates on your tombstone

And all your friends will read 'em

But all that's gonna matter is that little dash between 'em...

Kevin Welch

War is like a big machine that no one really knows how to run and when it gets out of control it ends up destroying the things you thought you were fighting for, and a lot of other things you kinda forgot you had.

Anonymous

To laugh often and much;

to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;

to earn the appreciation of honest critics and to endure the betrayal of false friends;

to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others;

to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;

to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.

This is to have succeeded.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, American Poet

The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing

Albert Einstein

The plea of necessity, that eternal argument of all conspirators.

William Henry Harrison - (1773-1841), 9th U. S. President, Letter to Simon Bolivar, 27 September 1829

We tell lies when we are afraid... afraid of what we don't know, afraid of what others will think, afraid of what will be found out about us. But every time we tell a lie, the thing that we fear grows stronger.

Williams Tad

A human being is part of a whole, called by us the 'Universe,' a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest--a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.

Albert Einstein

A new fascism promises security from the terror of crime. All that is required is that we take away the criminals' rights -- which, of course, are our own. Out of our desperation and fear we begin to feel a sense of security from the new totalitarian state.
Gerry Spence, Lawyer and author, Give Me Liberty, 1998
The whole drift of our law is toward the absolute prohibition of all ideas that diverge in the slightest form from the accepted platitudes, and behind that drift of law there is a far more potent force of growing custom, and under that custom there is a natural philosophy which erects conformity into the noblest of virtues and the free functioning of personality into a capital crime against society
H. L. Mencken(1880-1956)American Journalist, Editor, Essayist, Linguist, Lexicographer, and Critic, quoted in New York Times Magazine, 9 August 1964
Where once a tyrant had to wish that his subjects had but one common neck that he might strangle them all at once, all he has to do now is to 'educate the people' so that they will have but one common mind to delude.
Richard Mitchell(1929-2002) Professor at Glassboro State College, NJ, author, founder and publisher of The Underground Grammarian 
The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum.
Noam Chomsky (1928- ) 
As long as I don't write about the government, religion, politics, and other institutions, I am free to print anything.
Pierre-Augustin Beaumarchais (1732-1799)
The true civilization is where every man gives to every other every right that he claims for himself
Robert Ingersoll
From such beginnings of governments, what could be expected, but a continual system of war and extortion?
Thomas Paine
Past the seeker as he prayed came the crippled and the beggar and the beaten. And seeing them...he cried, ‘Great God, how is it that a loving creator can see such things and yet do nothing about them?’...God said, ‘I did do something. I made you.
Sufi Teaching

The study of history is a powerful antidote to contemporary arrogance. It is humbling to discover how many of our glib assumptions, which seem to us novel and plausible, have been tested before, not once but many times and in innumerable guises; and discovered to be, at great human cost, wholly false.
Paul Johnson

If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.

Vincent Van Gogh, Dutch Post-Impressionist Painter

Protest that endures...is moved by a hope far more modest than that of public success: namely, the hope of preserving qualities in one's own heart and spirit that would be destroyed by acquiescence.

Wendell Berry

Do not look for rest in any pleasure,

because you were not created for pleasure:

you were created for joy.

And if you do not know the difference between pleasure and joy

you have not yet begun to live.

Thomas Merton, 1915-1968, Monk, Author and Poet

Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The trouble-makers. The round heads in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status-quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify, or vilify them. But the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.

Jack Kerouac, On the Road

The first word of the Rule of Benedict is Listen.  My own church has been arrogant in telling God when God can speak and God will not abide that – and so I have come to understand the importance of listening.

The abbot of St John’s Monastery, Minnesota.

Prayer for Martin Luther King, Jr's Birthday

O Guardian of Israel, our shelter and shade,

Stir up in us that flame of justice

That Jesus incited on this earth,

That rages in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.

O arouse in us that very flame of righteousness

That enticed Martin to be a living sacrifice of praise,

To seek freedom for all God’s children.

O to you, God ever faithful and true,

Be glory for ever and ever.

Amen.

Attributed to J. Glenn Murray, SJ

Never ‘for the sake of peace and quiet’ deny your own experience or convictions.

Dag Hammarskjold

The following prayer authored by Christian, Jewish and Muslim clergy was used in many places in inter-religious worships around the time of the Gulf War in 1991:

Eternal God, Creator of the universe, there is no God but You.

Great and wonderful are Your works, wondrous are your ways.

Thank You for the many splendoured variety of Your creation.

Thank You for the many ways we affirm Your presence and purpose,

and the freedom to do so.

Forgive our violation of Your creation.

Forgive our violence toward each other.

We stand in awe and gratitude for Your persistent love

for each and all of Your children:

Christian, Jew, Muslim,

as well as those with other faiths.

Grant to all and our leaders attributes of the strong;

mutual respect in words and deed,

restraint in the exercise of power, and

the will for peace with justice, for all.

Eternal God, Creator of the universe, there is no God but You. Amen.

(Excerpted from Current Dialogue 24/93, p.36)

We come to you, God Creator.

You are the source of life and beauty and power.

Your son Jesus is the way of faith and hope and love.

Your Spirit is the fire of love, the fount of wisdom, the bond of unity.

You call us at all times to be people of the beatitudes,

Witnesses to the Gospel of peace and love and forgiveness.

You call us at this time, when war and rumours of war,

weigh heavily on the peoples of Iraq and the Middle East.

Their lives are already broken by suffering and violence.

We renew our acceptance of your call.

We promise to work:

To bring the light of the Gospel to those living in darkness,

To bring the hope of the Gospel to those living in despair,

To bring the healing of the Gospel to the lonely,

the disadvantaged, the marginalized,

And to bring the peace of the Gospel to a divided world.

Amen.

Pax Christi UK - http://www.paxchristi.org.uk/Iraq.html

The soul of our country needs to be awakened . . .When leaders act contrary to conscience, we must act contrary to leaders.

Veterans Fast for Life

God Our Creator, who made the earth a peaceful garden,

help us restore that peace wherever it has been broken

by terrorism and injustice, especially in the Middle East.

We repent for the times when religious language

has fostered hatred and division.

Bring healing to those whose lives

have been shattered by violence.

Instill a renewed spirit of reconciliation in those

who lead our people politically and religiously.

Amen

Rev. John T. Pawlikowski, OSM Catholic Theological Union, Chicago, IL

If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children, I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life.

If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in.

It is a wholesome and necessary thing for us to turn again to the earth and in the contemplation of her beauties to know of wonder and humility

Rachel Carson

Once, we were fine. We were all one.

Then, we de-fined ourselves:

this person is white, this one is black,

this one is English, this one is Russian and this one is Chinese.

Now, it's time to re-fine ourselves,

and once again see that we are all one.

So we were fine, we de-fined, now we must re-fine.

Swami Satchidananda

Violence as a way of achieving racial justice is both impractical and immoral. It is impractical because it is a descending spiral ending in destruction for all. The old law of an eye for an eye leaves everybody blind. It is immoral because it seeks to humiliate the opponent rather than win his understanding; it seeks to annihilate rather than to convert. Violence is immoral because it thrives on hatred rather than love. It destroys community and makes brotherhood impossible. It leaves society in monologue rather than dialogue. Violence ends by descending itself. It creates bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

For those of us who are on the wrong side of Empire, the humiliation is becoming unbearable. Each of the Iraqi children killed by the United States was our child. Each of the prisoners tortured in Abu Ghraib was our comrade. Each of their screams was ours. When they were humiliated, we were humiliated. The U.S. soldiers fighting in Iraq - mostly volunteers in a poverty draft from small towns and poor urban neighborhoods - are victims just as much as the Iraqis of the same horrendous process, which asks them to die for a victory that will never be theirs.

Arundhati Roy, San Francisco, September 2004

The most important human endeavor is

the striving for morality in our actions.

Our inner balance and even our very existence

depend on it. Only morality in our actions

can give beauty and dignity to life.

Albert Einstein

Pride is concerned with who is right,

Humility is concerned with what is right.

Ezra Taft Benson

We are made wise not by recollections of the past, but by our responsibility to the future.

George Bernard Shaw

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right doing there is a field. I'll meet you there.

Mualana Romi

It has always been a mystery to me how men can feel themselves honored by the humiliation of their fellow beings.

Mahatma Gandhi

Human beings are not our enemy. Our enemy is not the other person. Our enemy is the violence, ignorance, and injustice in us and in the other person. When we are armed with compassion and understanding, we fight not against other people, but against the tendency to invade, to dominate, and to exploit.

Thich Nhat Hanh in Anger: Wisdom for Cooling the Flames

A Blessing for Beauty

May the beauty of your life become more visible to you, that you may glimpse your wild divinity.

May the wonders of the earth call you forth from all your small, secret prisons and set your feet free in the pastures of possibilities.

May the light of dawn anoint your eyes that you may behold what a miracle a day is.

May the liturgy of twilight shelter all your fears and darkness within the circle of ease.

May the angel of memory surprise you in bleak times with new gifts from the harvest of your vanished days.

May you allow no dark hand to quench the candle of hope in your heart.

May you discover a new generosity towards yourself, and encourage yourself to engage your life as a great adventure.

May the outside voices of fear and despair find no echo in you.

May you always trust the urgency and wisdom of your own spirit.

May the shelter and nourishment of all the good you have done, the love you have shown, the suffering you have carried, awaken around you to bless your life a thousand times.

And when love finds the path to your door may you open like the earth to the dawn, and trust your every hidden colour towards its nourishment of light.

May you find enough stillness and silence to savour the kiss of God on your soul and delight in the eternity that shaped you, that holds you and calls you.

And may you know that despite confusion, anxiety and emptiness, your name is written in Heaven.

And may you come to see your life as a quiet sacrament of service, which awakens around you a rhythm where doubt gives way to the grace of wonder, where what is awkward and strained can find elegance, and where crippled hope can find wings, and torment enter at last unto the grace of serenity.

May Divine Beauty bless you.

John O’Donohue, Beauty – The Invisible Embrace

Reflection on the readings  

The readings suggest that there are no God-forsaken places or persons. Whatever we do, God is always facing toward us.  There is hope for transformation in the most dire situations and most despicable people. We see a boy in his pyjamas being called in a time of corruption and leadership vacuum. We see also that there is no set formula by which God calls us. Samuel lived with the priest Eli whose his eyesight grew dim, and was lying down. The ‘Dim eyesight’ and ‘lying down’ [‘napping’] strongly suggest passivity and blindness: the inability to see that things were ‘not in order’, i.e., a euphemism for ‘corruption’. Eli had failed to confront the corruption -much of it under his own sons - within the Temple system. Turning a blind eye to corruption and failure to keep the peace made him complicit in the corruption as we have seen in recent times with the Royal Commission into institutional abuse of children. God, in whispers to a boy in the middle of the night, calls for change. This is what God always seems to do through the most unlikely or seemingly insignificant people, those that the powerful and influential tend to write off. In recent weeks a young 16 year old Palestinian girl Ahed al Tamimi has become well know for her resistance to the Israel military to protect her own land.

 Ahed al-Tamimi

The call to us is to open our eyes and be awake. By calling young Samuel, Eli's cowardice and complicity is exposed in the call of a child. The call to follow is the call to go beyond ourselves.

A priest I knew would often say: ‘Do you want to be good or be a follower of Jesus?’ To be a follower we need to listen. That is only possible when we remain connected to the realities of human life and experience. This is where we hear the ‘whispers’ of God – the ‘whispers’ that come in the events of life and the stories of people – especially those on the edges, the poor, marginalised, oppressed. God’s call is for us to be engaged in the struggles and issues of people in the world. When we are invited to ‘come and see’ it is not just about geography but it is in these places, amongst these people, that we find Jesus living or abiding. Mere church attendance or just living up to certain standards of morality does not cut it. It is by engaging with the social and political issues today to create structures of justice and peace in our world….those very things that politicians and church leaders criticise in those who take following of Jesus seriously. That resistance can also come from family, friends, colleagues as well as government.

The managers of the status quo want to reassure us they have everything in hand. Once it was a certain Queensland premier. Now we is a minister supremo (Peter Dutton) who has responsibility for security – so much that it makes us feel more insecure and less caring of others by labelling people for political gain. We heard that everything is okay with ‘jobs and growth’ and other clichés. Underlying all is that is that they mouth ‘Peace, peace; peace and prosperity’ as we saw with the invasion of Iraq and contemporary threats against Iran and North Korea. These managers of the status quo, wherever they are, need us to complicit in their injustices and corruption by hiding the truth and telling lies: whether in Gaza, Iraq, Afghanistan, climate change, treatment of Indigenous people, prejudice against gays and lesbians, blaming the poor and now people of African descent as well as Muslim people for the underlying violence in the community. Samuel was born into such a corrupt climate and we live in such a climate. Yet, God’s call invites Samuel [and us] to be part of new future. Part of that future involves turning towards one another in love rather than turning against each other in hate and fear.

Samuel's story is our story. He represents us. The danger is that God’s voice will be drowned out in the noisy ranting world. We need to find peaceful pockets of silence to listen to God's voice, to learn what is in Christ’s heart, hear the call to engage with the world. It is important that we not be put off by those who want us to avert our eyes from homeless people under our noses or climate change or the whole question of people on the move – especially those who are forced by violence and conflict. Samuel’s task was to keep the Temple flame alive. It was the sign of God’s presence. It is also beautiful image for us too - that when it is dark, we keep something of God’s presence alive in our world.  

Christ is forever passing by and inviting us to discover where he lives. His life ‘open for inspection under many guises’. He invites us to come and see him, homeless and hungry sleeping on pavements and in doorways in the wet and the cold; to come and see him in hospital, prison, street corner, nursing home, refugee camp, housing commission flats, the boat person, young person trying to make sense of his or her life and or sexuality, the person living with HIV/AIDS, the Aboriginal Australian trying to negotiate our world without losing his/her own culture. God's call is an ongoing affair and often  reaches us through the plight of the other. It takes courage to stop and open our hearts and answer the call because it can be disturbing to our lifestyle. God’s call to each of us is never in a vacuum. It always comes in concrete places, experiences, and people.

Paul reminds us that God’s Spirit of love is in our midst – within our lives, relationships, struggles to reconcile and heal, our failures, our attempts in justice and peace making and loving. What greater ministry than to attend to the bodies of others: feeding hungry bodies, clothing naked bodies, healing sick bodies, burying dead bodies-these are the ‘corporal works of mercy’ and also to cry out on their behalf? This is how we show God's compassion.

Because this Spirit dwells in us there is a sacredness about us, within us, which should result in acting accordingly. God inhabits our human flesh and so we have a certain dignity. Paul audaciously says that we, our bodies, are God’s chosen dwelling places. This is how God approaches us - through our bodies, our relationships and this is where God chooses to reside. Disregard for the sacredness of the body, results in war, sexual slavery of children, physical and mental abuse, commercial greed and economic injustice that deprives human beings of a dignified life – something that Pope Francis is constantly reminding us of. Paul refers to God's covert action as a hidden presence of human dignity; Christ incognito in each person.

Nathaniel experiences this in today’s gospel. Though a man of integrity, he thought he knew what was what. And he was sure that nothing but trouble could from Nazareth – a place linked in his mind with all things low and contemptible. The propaganda machine had done a good job on Nazareth, and Nathaniel bought it. That propaganda machine is at work: what it says about Muslims, Iraqis, Hamas, Pacific Islanders, gays and their intentions. Jesus shone a light on his prejudices and complicity in the scapegoating of Nazareth. Maybe Nathaniel felt naked as he saw his own darkness through the eyes of a victim of that scapegoating. It is interesting that in Dresden, Germany, 1000’s of people are demonstrating against the Islamisation of Europe. That is a city with less than 1000 Muslim inhabitants, where cities that have very high proportions of Muslim people are countering these negative rallies. Is it that the people of Dresden have no experience of Muslim people and so let their prejudices and fears take over. Jesus invites us to with generous forgiveness to ‘come and see.’ Time and again, the key to that confrontation will be in recognising who we have been scapegoating, and recognising that Christ is identifying himself with the ones we try to cast out. For Nathaniel it was Nazareth. For many it is Muslims, gays, asylum seekers. If we approach Jesus, we might find him challenging us through those we scapegoat.

Tomorrow, January 15, is Martin Luther King Day and the birth of Mary MacKillop. Both struggled with contrary voices but listened to their hearts. Both in different ways kept the flame of faith alive in their contexts by their solidarity with the poor and suffering. There  were voices told King that nonviolence does not work. We still hear it as Pope Francis constantly calls us to respond with nonviolence, people within and outside the church, assert that it does not work or at least we need something like the ‘just war’ theory. Voice told Mary MacKillop not to confront the abuses of church authority. King faced scapegoating and prejudice as he pleaded with his nation to give up violence in Vietnam and end racial inequality: Mary MacKillop faced ridicule and excommunication. Listening to Jesus both knew that silence about violence and injustice would not bring about social transformation. They knew in their hearts about ‘the violence of silence’.

We need to keep that flame alive. Despite the dark places that many people live in, there are many who continue to turn towards each other rather than against each other.

To conclude, Stephanie Dowrick writes: Christ's message of compassion and inclusiveness has been drowned out for most of 2000 years by those who believe they know how God views us.  Let us work for more humour and express a deeper understanding of the potential for beauty, ecstasy and comfort that our lives grounded in love and reverence can bring.   When it comes to certain people let us stop questioning what is normal. It does not justify men's domination over women.  It does not excuse slavery, racism, anti-Semitism. It does not permit talk of going to war for very spurious reasons.  It does not pretend that the sexual, physical and emotional abuse of children is unimportant.  Let us keep that flame burning. This is how we protest the system and face the darkness.  God has promised to be in the darkness with us…. and this transforms the darkness….. the power of relentless solidarity.

 

Modern icon by Robert Lentz of two great peace and justice activists - Philip and Daniel Berrigan, who were never afraid to raise their voices in the cause of peace and also put their bodies on the line and pay the price.