Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, an Australian community, in a worldwide religious congregation.
Jesus loved with a human heart: with him we proclaim his love to the world.
We work to discover through advocacy, healing and reconciliation, God's presence in our world.
We are to be on earth the heart of God. God has no other heart but ours.
- Published: Tuesday, 13 February 2018 04:49
LITURGY NOTES FOR THE FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT
First Sunday of Lent
February 18, 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.
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.
The beauty that will save the world is the love that shares the pain
Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, former Archbishop of Milan
Peace remains possible. And if peace is possible, it is also a duty!
Pope Benedict XVI, Message for World Day of Prayer for Peace 2004
Reading I Genesis 9:8-15
Responsorial Psalm Ps 25:4-5, 6-7, 8-9
R. (cf. 10) Your ways, O Lord, are love and truth to those who keep your covenant.
Reading II 1 Peter 3:18-22
Gospel Mark 1:12-15
- You have established your covenant with the whole of creation, Jesus, have mercy.
- You remind us of your faithfulness through many signs, Christ, have mercy.
- Your ways are love and truth to those who keep your covenant, Jesus, have mercy.
Rainbow God [or: God of the Desert],
as Jesus was led into the desert,
may the Spirit open our eyes
to see that a new world is possible.
Open our eyes to what is good and evil
and help us to feel the hunger
for what is good and human
and to give shape to your Reign of truth
by justice and unselfish love.
Prayers of the Faithful
Introduction: God has made a covenant with us for life with the promise to protect our home, the planet earth. Let us ask for God's strength that we may keep our covenant as we pray in response: Your ways are love and truth to those who keep your covenant. [from responsorial psalm]
1. For our country and for all nations: that we may live in peace and harmony, honoring the dignity and respecting the differences of all people, we pray: Your ways are love and truth to those who keep your covenant.
2. May the Church be open to the world, especially people who are marginalised, and be liberated from all forms of ambition, injustice, cruelty and oppression, so that Christ’s loving and compassionate face shines forth in all our lives, we pray: Your ways are love and truth to those who keep your covenant.
3. For our community: that God’s Reign may come for us all as we become more aware of and sensitive to sufferings of people around the world, we pray: Your ways are love and truth to those who keep your covenant.
4. For people living with disadvantage: may Governments will keep in mind and work for those in society who live with disadvantage, remembering the need to Bridge the Gap between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Australians, alleviate the discouragement of unemployment, and support refugees and the disabled, we pray: Your ways are love and truth to those who keep your covenant.
5. For people living in places of conflict and violence: may people will come to see the beauty and goodness of peace and work for it especially in Ukraine, Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq, we pray: Your ways are love and truth to those who keep your covenant.
6. For people facing the death penalty: may the families of all people who face the death penalty around the world, know that prayers and thoughts are with them to sustain them in this distressing time, we pray: Your ways are love and truth to those who keep your covenant.
7. For all living things upon the earth - the animals and plants that feed and clothe us and all that is beautiful in earth, sky and sea: that we continue to see that they are a gift and our responsibility and not to be taken them for granted, we pray: Your ways are love and truth to those who keep your covenant.
8. For our home, the earth – both the land and the oceans: that we may use its resources wisely and responsibly, sharing with all people for the common good, we pray: Your ways are love and truth to those who keep your covenant.
9. For the people on the lowest rung of our society: may we remember that they have experiences and knowledge that we do not have and that we have much to learn from them, we pray: Your ways are love and truth to those who keep your covenant.
10. For leaders of the churches: that they may respond to the needs of people in their everyday lives and appreciate the ability of these people to reach out to others in trust and faith, we pray: Your ways are love and truth to those who keep your covenant.
11. For people who live with a sense of failure: that they have the courage to make a new beginning with themselves and others, we pray: Your ways are love and truth to those who keep your covenant.
12. For those in positions of leadership in government: that they seriously seek the participation of all people, even the weakest and most vulnerable, in shaping public policy, we pray: Your ways are love and truth to those who keep your covenant.
13. For those who experience the desert because of hunger, strikes, violence, injustice, or exploitation, that hope will be reborn as they encounter persons who support them and struggle with them, we pray: Your ways are love and truth to those who keep your covenant.
14. For those who are passing through deserts of suffering, failures and disappointments: that the Spirit may give them the strength to overcome their troubles, we pray: Your ways are love and truth to those who keep your covenant.
Concluding Prayer: Rainbow God, you have set the rainbow as a sign of promise for the hopes of the human community. We pray that we may keep faith with you, our Creator, in our care of this world and all its inhabitants.
Prayer over the Gifts
Rainbow God [or: God of the Desert],
the bread and wine we bring before you
will become new life for us.
May this Eucharist impact on our minds and hearts
so that our lives may be changed.
God is with you.
And also with you.
Let us lift up our hearts.
We lift them to God.
Let us give thanks to our loving God.
It is right to give our thanks and praise.
It is indeed right to give you our thanks and praise, O God,
for in tenderness and faithful love
you forgive our sins and guide us when we stray.
When the ancient flood destroyed the world you had created,
you saved Noah and his family from the waters,
and established a covenant with them
and with every living creature for all time.
When Jesus came forth from the waters of baptism,
and proving himself in the wilderness
where waves of temptation threatened to engulf him,
he began to proclaim the good news of your Reign,
calling people to repent and believe in the gospel.
He was cast down to the land of the dead
where he preached even to those lost in the flood,
but you raised him to new life
and seated him at your side
to reign over every authority and power for ever.
Therefore with .....
©2003 Nathan Nettleton www.laughingbird.net (adapted)
Prayer after Communion
Rainbow God [or: God of the Desert],
in this celebration of the Eucharist,
Jesus has spoken to us words of peace,
forgiveness and encouragement;
and breathed life into every living creature through your Spirit.
May the light and life you have created in us
be reflected through our service to one another.
That Life Would Teach Us (John Van Laar)
(NB: This prayer could also be easily adapted into a Prayer of the Faithful)
God, life – your life – is so freely and abundantly available,
it pulses in all creation, and in every human soul.
Yet we have allowed ourselves to be seduced by death,
and have left ourselves and our planet thirsty and lethargic.
So, where rain forests are destroyed
to exploit immediate resources for short term profits,
we pray that your life would teach us restraint;
Where human waste piles up and poisons the earth,
and the lives of the creatures in it,
we pray that your life would teach us wisdom;
Where the growth and nurture of children is stunted,
by poverty and inequality,
we pray that your life would teach us generosity and compassion;
Where life in all its various expressions is denied and suppressed
by hatred, self-interest, war and megalomania,
we pray that your life would teach us love and humility.
Teach us, O God, to live – to really live,
abundantly, freely, generously and humbly,
that life may be nurtured, multiplied and shared,
– in all its amazing diversity –
In Christ’s name we pray.
‘When someone loves you, the way they talk about you is different. You feel safe and comfortable.’
Jess C. Scott The Intern
‘I envy people that know love. They have someone who takes them as they are.’
Jess C. Scott
‘The human body is the best work of art.’
Jess C. Scott
‘War is what happens when language fails.’
An Orthodox Christian Prayer for Peace
God and Creator of all people on the earth.
Guide, all the nations and their leaders
in the ways of justice and peace.
Protect us from the evils of injustice,
prejudice, exploitation, conflict and war.
Help us to put away mistrust, bitterness and hatred.
Teach us to cease the storing and using of implements of war.
Lead us to find justice, peace and freedom.
Unite us in the making and creating of the tools of peace
against ignorance, poverty, disease and oppression.
Grant that we may grow in harmony and friendship as brothers and sisters
created in your image, to your honor and praise. Amen.
[Adapted from a prayer in the Center of Concern]
To ignore the immense multitude of people who are not only deprived of the absolute necessities of life (food, housing and medical assistance) but do not even have the hope of a better future, is to become like the rich who pretended not to see the beggar Lazarus.
Pope John Paul II (Lent 2003)
Faced with the tragic situation of persistent poverty which afflicts so many people in our world, how can we fail to see that the quest for profit at any cost and the lack of effective, responsible concern for the common good have concentrated immense resources in the hands of a few while the rest of humanity suffers in poverty and neglect?’
Pope John Paul II (Lent 2003)
The world is waiting...for new saints, ecstatic men and women who are so deeply rooted in the love of God that they are free to imagine a new international order.
The evil that is in the world almost always comes of ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence if they lack understanding.
Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding.
It is always easier to fight for one's principles than to live up to them.
The form of law which I propose would be as follows: In a state which is desirous of being saved from the greatest of all plagues -- not faction, but rather distraction -- there should exist among the citizens neither extreme poverty nor, again, excessive wealth, for both are productive of great evil . . Now the legislator should determine what is to be the limit of poverty or of wealth.
Plato (427-347 B.C.)
The greatest country, the richest country, is not that which has the most capitalists, monopolists, immense grabbings, vast fortunes, with its sad, sad soil of extreme, degrading, damning poverty, but the land in which there are the most homesteads, freeholds-where wealth does not show such contrasts high and low, where all men have enough-a modest living-and no man is made possessor beyond the sane and beautiful necessities.
Walt Whitman (1819-1892)
‘I believe that: While we have more than we need on this continent, and others die for want of it, there can be no lasting peace. When we work as hard in peacetime to make this world decent to live in, as in wartime we work to kill, the world will be decent, and the causes for which men fight will be gone.
Agnes Newton Keith Three Came Home
….. wars might be avoided by: universal disarmament; limited national sovereignties; provision for all people of the world: of a rising standard of living, better education, more contact with and better understanding of others; and equal access to the technical and raw materials which are needed for improving life….
J. Robert Oppenheimer, 1946
A State divided into a small number of rich and a large number of poor will always develop a government manipulated by the rich to protect the amenities represented by their property.
Harold Laski (1930)
What experience and history teach is this -- that people and governments never have learned anything from history, or acted on principles.
George Wilhelm Hegel
Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Nothing here below is profane for those who know how to see.
On the contrary, everything is sacred.
Teilhard de Chardin sj
Of all the enemies to public liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes. And armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. ‘In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended. Its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force of the people. ‘The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war. and in the degeneracy of manners and morals, engendered by both. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.
James Madison, April 20, 1795
I dream of giving birth to a child who will ask, ‘Mother, what was war?
All the arms we need are for hugging.
As followers of Christ, we need to take up our cross in the nuclear age. I believe that one obvious meaning of the cross is unilateral disarmament. Our security is in a loving, caring God. We must dismantle our weapons of terror and place our reliance on God
I am told by some that unilateral disarmament in the face of atheistic communism is insane. I find myself observing that nuclear armament by anyone is itself atheistic and anything but sane.
Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen
Weapons do not fire on their own. Those who have lost hope fire them. Those who are controlled by dogmas fire them. We must fight for peace undismayed, and fearlessly accept these challenges from those without hope and from the threats of fanatics.
Oscar Arias, former president of Costa Rica and Nobel Peace Prize recipient
In the face of suffering, one has no right to run away, not to see. In the face of injustice, one may not look the other way. When someone suffers, and it is not you, they come first. Their suffering gives them priority…. To watch over another who grieves is a more urgent duty than to think of God.
Everyone's a pacifist between wars.
It's like being a vegetarian between meals.
Nations have recently been led to borrow billions for war; no nation has ever borrowed largely for education. Probably, no nation is rich enough to pay for both war and civilization. We must make our choice; we cannot have both.
Draft beer; not people.
When prophets are silent and faith a distortion
When prophets are silent and faith a distortion,
The bruised reed lies broken, and hope is snuffed out;
We wander through deserts of fear and deception,
Despised and derided and driven by doubt.
The dry bones of exile lie fallen and broken,
We find ourselves lost in the darkness of night;
The leaders are blinded, by God seem abandoned,
While wrong is exalted as if it were right.
When God loses patience with pastors and people
Foundations are shaken and hopes are unsure;
The faith which is broken, the love that's forsaken
Are open through pain to God's promise and cure.
He digs up foundations of guilt and injustice,
He opens the pathway to truth from deceit,
From brokenness, nothingness, renders salvation;
This vulnerable path leads to praise that's complete.
Andrew E. Pratt
Always the place of testing
and paradoxically resting
the desert knows its own
and nurtures them in ways
that comfortable, urbane folk
can never find in town.
What city folk see out there
as landscape harsh and bare
intolerant of living things
under searing sun and wind
is to the desert people
most providentially kind.
Here things mate, seed and grow
such as townsfolk never know
with roots that dig down far
below the shifting sands
into that sturdier ground
which wise souls love yet fear.
Here roo and desert oak,
spinifex and patient folk
prophets and Mary’s son
find angels’ food and strength
to go to any length
trusting in things unseen.
Bruce Prewer 2000
It was easy to see You
in holy faces, holy places,
God made flesh in a mother's voice
or in the gentle hands of a nurse
or the smile of a grandmother
or the laughter of small children.
Every presence of love and beauty
proclaimed Your advent.
I needed eyes sharpened by suffering
before I was able to see You
in the pain of human poverty.
The man who stared at a prison ceiling,
the alcoholic mother, the hungry child,
the old woman who died alone in her flat,
the young victims who grew up
to become abusers themselves,
the people who were in despair
over their inability to make changes,
when I could look at them
through the experience
of my own crucifixions,
I realised that they all looked back at me
with Your eyes.
It took much longer to see You
in places of affluence and power,
in Parliament or at the stock exchange,
or at the helm of a luxury yacht
or residing in a summer palace,
surrounded by material wealth.
But I now discover that in these places
You have the same eyes as the poor,
the disabled, the imprisoned,
the same eyes as my grandmother,
the child, the hospital nurse.
Joy Cowley, Aotearoa New Zealand.
Earth teach me!
Earth teach me patience
as the plants grow slowly
Earth teach me hope
as the plants grow slowly
Earth teach me hope
as the first green shoots break through
Earth teach me courage
as the wild animals protect their young
Earth teach me blessing
as the sun rises each day
Earth teach me loving kindness
as the birds migrate for winter
Earth teach me freedom
as the birds who fly alone
Earth teach me celebration
as the apples come to full fruit
Earth teach me yearning
as the rain nourishes the drought.
Earth teach me!
An old man was walking along a beach at daybreak, when he noticed a child ahead of him picking up starfish that had been cast ashore by a storm the night before. The old man hurried to catch up to her, and asked what she was doing. ‘Rescuing starfish,’ the child replied. ‘They'll die if I leave them here when the sun comes out.’ ‘But this beach goes on for miles,’ argued the man, ‘and there are millions of starfish stranded here. How can your effort make any difference?’ The girl looked intently at the starfish in her hand, then threw it back to the safety of the sea and said, ‘It makes a difference for this one!’
Make of us, still,
creatures of awe,
creatures who know,
creatures who live in connection.
Make in us, still,
the water-signed call,
the will to begin again in connection.
Make over us, still,
rainbows announcing hope,
rainbows embracing all,
rainbows calling for conscience in connection.
Reflections on the readings
Pope Francis has often called on the Church to be open and welcoming, whatever the cost. He has reminded those in leadership that they should not be a ‘a closed caste’ but lead people in reaching toward all who are rejected by society and the church. He has repeatedly called us to respond (as Jesus did last week towards the leper) without studying the situation and its consequences but reach out to those who far off, to heal people’s wounds and restore them to God’s family. Francis has condemned the ‘narrow and prejudiced mentality’ where people cling to religious laws out of fear and then reject the very people who should be ministered to, that is, anyone on the margins of society and ‘who encounters discrimination.’ He has said, ‘We will not find the Lord unless we truly accept the marginalised!’…‘Truly the Gospel of the marginalised is where our credibility is at stake, where it is found, and where it is revealed’ and that we should see ‘the crucified Lord’ in the hungry and the unemployed, those who are in prison and ‘even in those who have lost their faith, or declared themselves to be atheists, or turned away from the practice of the faith.’
Today we find rich symbols of God's presence among us. The ‘bow in the clouds’ signifies God's covenant of peace with all of us. God is present and cares for the earth and all upon it. The story of Noah is a story of re-creation where things are put together again – healed and reconciled.
Mark with only a few words or brush strokes paints Jesus’ baptism and how he is driven into the wilderness …..a place of danger as well as grace (Spirit) but where one finds the ‘adversary’ [all that opposed to God, the one who hinders anyone from fulfilling one’s promises and faithfulness to God and others]. The Baptismal Ritual in a Latin American Missal has put it in very contemporary terms: one will not be mastered by or collude with violence, war, hatred, nationalism, racism, greed, selfishness and egoism, individualism, materialism, or any ‘ism’, anger, dishonesty, lack of integrity and so forth., Jesus, after being tested in the wilderness, proclaims the nearness of God’s reign: that God is among the poor; among the victims of injustice, and among all who suffer at the hands of others. Lent is our wilderness time. Jesus talked about repentance, which literally means 'a mental revolution', a change of mind and heart. It means to turn. It means to stop what we’re doing and do something different, or do the same thing in a different way. It requires change. Doing something different can make us rethink, re-establish, who we are with God, who we are with others, who we are within ourselves. In two compelling sentences – ‘The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel.’ – Jesus inaugurates and sums up his mission: to break the shackles of sin that enslave humanity, to put us on a path that liberates us from all oppression and teaches us how to love one another unconditionally. Justice is love made flesh and we are called again and again to seize moments for nonviolence and injustice. Pope John Paul ll also called on us to dismantle the ‘structures of sin’ that abound, e.g., the inadequate response to poverty hunger suffered by so many of our sisters and brothers, and made worse by cuts to foreign aid; the madness of war, manufacturing aims and dealing with violence with more violence; the on-going state-sanctioned murder of the death penalty around the world; the violence and injustice of the effects of climate change and environmental degradation.
Because of God’s tenacious love we are offered a ‘rainbow’ as a sign of presence and solidarity. We are called to turn around <repent> to see God in Jesus present in our lives, one who is big hearted and all-embracing of people rather than mean-spirited, vengeful, demanding and joy-destroying. The revolution that Jesus calls us to is by a new way seeing, having a new mind and heart which is expressed in our relationships with others. That revolution is a refusal to live in or imprison ourselves in the past or concentrate on ourselves.
Jesus lived with the animals. What beasts were they? The real ones that threaten us are within us – the beasts of terror, vengeance, panic, fear and mistrust, greed and envy. Fear has many people in its grip. Much is fostered by Governments to increase their power. We need to ignore the arrogant and powerful who try to shock us with their nasty behaviour and ugly words. Can we move away from their news and dominating ways into the Good News Jesus calls us to – to accept God’s tenacious love for us and for all living things?
The image of the Ark tells us we are all in the same boat. This is the message of the L’Arche communities founded by Jean Vanier where people with disabilities share life and community – people who might otherwise have been swept away by ignorance, neglect, and lack of concern. When Fiji’s Prime Minister presided over the UN Conference on Climate Change in Bonn ((COP 23, 2017) he also said that we are all in the same boat. ‘No-one is immune to the effects of climate change. All 7.5 billion people are in the same boat’. He said that we all face an unprecedented threat to our way of life from the rising sea levels, extreme weather events and changes to agriculture brought about by climate change, but especially our Pacific Island nation neighbours who are fighting for survival - Kiribati and Tuvalu. Because of their vulnerability, we cannot let them slip beneath the rising seas in order to preserve the economies and lifestyles of others. ‘We are all in same boat’. He challenged anyone who believes in justice that they have no other choice than to side with these nations in their struggle.
The ‘dove’ comes upon us and bids us come ashore in peace; to cease from our forgetfulness; to cease our violence whether in our bed rooms, homes, work places, community, nation or between nations.
As Jesus is filled with the Spirit we can imagine him walking onto the beach of ‘new beginnings’. He calls us to repeat and believe the good news. Let us not believe only the bad news. To take this image of walking onto the beach he wades into the forbidden things. He wades into the worlds of forbidden people that are often estranged. He has created a new Ark of sisterhood and brotherhood. He calls us away from the news of those who hinder the well being of people by their arrogance, abuse of power, their ugly and loveless words and dominant evil. He calls us into the good news: the news that God loves this world, loves us, loves all the forbidden people.
Jesus is resisting the political and religious authorities, by standing in solidarity with people outside the normative social structures: women, the poor, tax collectors, prostitutes, the sick and the possessed, all people who suffer and wonder if they have any hope - as he continues to do with today’s marginalised people.
This is a time to pay attention to the dimensions God requires of a Church big enough to hold all of the human community, with a religion and theology big enough for all the denominations, and all creatures, for a place in the Reign of Peace. We have heard people ask, ‘Will there be room in heaven for the animals? Is there a heaven for the birds and beasts?’ A prior question is: Will there be room on earth for them? Will we learn to live with all creation – humanity, the animals and flora – in harmony; with the planet and all its passengers?
Sin and chaos will continue to appear to have the upper hand. But Jesus preaches, ‘the kingdom of God is at hand.’ Even when Christ is crucified and hope seems dashed, God raises him and, through him, us to new life. There does not appear to be any defeat that God cannot draw life from? Who can ultimately defeat God's will for our good and the good of all creation?
God has not stayed aloof, and has, in Christ, joined us as we struggle to find new ways of being together as human beings. Nothing can overcome God's active and saving presence in the world.
Let’s remember that the reign of God is not a future event but here in the present. It is not a place but about relationships. When Jesus speaks of the reign of God his eyes are fixed on earth and not heaven. God’s reign is among us, he declares. The reign of God exposes division as incompatible with what God intends for human community. The rich cannot exploit the poor without also exploiting God. One cannot infringe upon the humanity of another without also infringing upon God. Anyone who would discriminate against another because of religious, sexual identity, sex, racial background or creed needs to be aware that he/she also discriminates against God.
What is our responsibility, as people in covenant with God, for preserving and renewing what has suffered the results of sin? How are we responsible for the safety and well-being of others? What can we do to help the poor of the world overcome disease and hunger? How are we to care for and renew the natural environment itself? How can we protect human life in all its stages? How can we diminish violence in society? What do we need to do to assure the dignity of each person?