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, 22 May 2018 15:01
LITURGY NOTES FOR TRINITY SUNDAY
May 27th 2018
Sorry Day Prayer
Almighty and loving God,
You who created ALL people in your image,
Lead us to seek your compassion
as we listen to the stories of our past.
You gave your only Son, Jesus,
who died and rose again so that sins will be forgiven.
We place before you the pain and
anguish of dispossession of land,
language, lore, culture and
family kinship that Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander peoples have experienced.
We live in faith that all people
will rise from the depths of despair and hopelessness.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
Families have endured the pain
and loss of loved ones, through the
separation of children from their families.
We are sorry and ask God’s forgiveness.
Touch the hearts of the broken, homeless
and inflicted and heal their spirits.
In your mercy and compassion
walk with us as we continue our journey
of healing to create a future that is just and equitable.
Lord, you are our hope.
© Aboriginal and Islander Commission, National Council of Churches in Australia, 2002
(Any of these can also be recited by all in the congregation)
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.
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 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.
We acknowledge the …………………….people the first inhabitants of this land.
We honour them for their care of the land
on which we gather today, and with them,
pray for justice and their constitutional recognition.
Peace remains possible. And if peace is possible, it is also a duty!
Pope Benedict XVI, Message for World Day of Prayer for Peace 2006
Only the truth is revolutionary
None of us have the right to avert our gaze
William Sloan Coffin (1924-2006)
First Reading Deuteronomy 4:32–34, 39–40
Responsorial Psalm Psalm 33:4-5, 6, 9, 18-19, 20, 22
Second Reading Romans 8:14–17
Gospel Matthew 28:16–20
· In you, we see the face of God. Jesus, have mercy.
· In you we see the peace of God bringing healing and reconciliation to our world, Christ, have mercy.
· In you we see the Spirit poured out on all creation and making all things new, Jesus, have mercy
§ Jesus, you revealed to us, God’s deep care for us. Jesus, have mercy.
§ Jesus, you loved us by laying down your life for us. Christ, have mercy.
§ Jesus, you pour out upon all creation the Spirit of unity, healing and love. Jesus, have mercy.
God of Communion,
Trinity of Persons, (or Creator God or God, source of all life and love)
you are near to your people
who have been formed in your image,
and close to the world your love continues to bring to life.
Draw us more deeply into your life,
respectful of you
in our sisters and brothers
and all creation.
Prayer over the Gifts
God of Communion,
Trinity of Persons, (or Creator God or God, source of all life and love)
accept the bread and wine we offer
which, through your Spirit, become Jesus,
your creative word among us,
May our sharing in his body and blood
strengthen us in the covenant of love
with you, our brothers and sisters,
and all of creation..
Prayer after Communion
God of Communion,
Trinity of Persons, (or Creator God or God, source of all life and love)
and the sacrament we have shared
help us to recognise your presence and image
echoed in our world
as we struggle for healing and peace for all people.
Deliver us, God of Communion, from every evil
and grant the peace of Christ today,
which is the work of your Spirit.
In your mercy keep us free from all that obstructs the bonds of humanity.
Protect us from all anxiety and worry and reassure us
that even in the uncertainties of our time
your Spirit leads us forward in joyful hope
toward the coming of Jesus Christ, our brother.
Prayers of the Faithful
Introduction: Let us pray to the God who loves the world so much and calls to be one human community and work for harmony in creation, our communities and families, and among the nations of the world. We pray in response: May your Spirit fill our hearts.
- We pray for Aboriginal and Torres Islander people: may we appreciate their contribution to our lives and culture and know and experience our empathy in their sufferings and struggles for survival and healing, we pray: May your Spirit fill our hearts.
- We pray for a deeper courage within us: may our vision and deep concern for justice emerge from our sense of human interconnectedness and be firm when challenged, tested and persecuted, we pray: May your Spirit fill our hearts.
- We pray for all areas of conflict and dissonance in the world: may there be peace where there is war, mutual aid and service where there is competition; and respect and dignity where there is rejection and prejudice, we pray: May your Spirit fill our hearts
- We pray for harmony within the church and between the churches: may there be cooperative dialogue where there is disagreement and mistrust, we pray: May your Spirit fill our hearts
- We pray for all people who work to create community in the world: may they build communities that reach beyond political frontiers, ideological, ethnic, cultural, or religious boundaries, we pray: May your Spirit fill our hearts.
- We pray for the people of the Pacific region, particularly the people of Kiribati, Tuvalu, the Catheret islands and other parts of the Torres Straits as they live with the effects of global warming and the effects on their livelihoods and homelands, we pray: May your Spirit fill our hearts.
- We pray for all people who are alone, isolated, or feel undervalued and unloved in the world: may they come to know the Trinity, the divine community which breaks down all barriers, we pray: May your Spirit fill our hearts.
- We pray for all who work to improve care and treatment of people who live with mental and physical disabilities: may God’s loving and healing presence surround all who are suffering in any way and find comfort in the presence of those who care for them, we pray: May your Spirit fill our hearts.
- We pray that we recognise that God is in the midst creation and all relationships: may truth continue to emerge in the exchange of stories and solidarity between peoples, we pray: May your Spirit fill our hearts
- We pray that our government institutions reflect the equality of the Trinity: may the voices of the weak and vulnerable be given more weight than the powerful and the dominant, we pray: May your Spirit fill our hearts
- We pray for the gift of courage: that we may be open to moving beyond our ordinary activities and hurried disregard and be instruments of God’s love and presence in new situations and with new people, we pray: May your Spirit fill our hearts
- We pray for all people who feel isolated from God and the human family: that they may experience welcome and acceptance as they encounter the Christian community, we pray: May your Spirit fill our hearts
- We pray for greater stewardship of the earth’s resources: that we may be good stewards of God’s creation and strive to protect it for future generations, we pray: May your Spirit fill our hearts
- We pray with grateful hearts for the beauty and wonder of creation: may we love and respect all that God has made by sharing our gifts with our brothers and sisters in need and protect and nurture all that is fragile and vulnerable on this earth, we pray: May your Spirit fill our hearts.
- We pray with thanks for the great diversity of peoples who share this world: may we have a renewed spirit of longing for peace and reconciliation wherever there is conflict, injustice and oppression, we pray: May your Spirit fill our hearts.
- We pray for peace: that all will be open to find new pathways to end violence in the Middle East, in Africa and the South China Sea so that all may live in peace and safety, we pray: May your Spirit fill our hearts
- We pray that as we gaze on the beauty and wonder of creation, we may love and respect all that God has made and given as we share with our sisters and brothers and work to protect and nurture all that is fragile and vulnerable on the earth, we pray: May your Spirit fill our hearts.
- We pray that looking upon the huge diversity of the peoples of the world that we may have a renewed spirit of longing for peace and reconciliation wherever there is conflict, injustice and oppression, we pray: May your Spirit fill our hearts.
- We pray that all who work to improve care and treatment of people who are physically ill or mentally distressed and that God’s loving and healing presence will surround all who are suffering today, we pray: May your Spirit fill our hearts.
Final Prayer: O God of Communion, Trinity of Persons, you are the foundation and meaning of our lives. Reawaken within us your life so that we take charge of our lives and passionately reflect the same love for all peoples that you show in the Trinity.
Final Prayer: O God of Communion, Trinity of Persons, you have formed us and know the thoughts and motives of our hearts. Fill us with spirit that moves us towards unity where we cast aside our differences, embrace diversity and serve you in each other.
June 3 Mabo Day marks the 20th anniversary (1992) of the High Court judgement when it accepted the claim by Eddie ‘Koiki’ Mabo and other claimants that their people (the Meriam people) had occupied the Islands of Mer for hundreds of years before the arrival of the British. It is a particular day of significance for Torres Strait Islander Australians.
May 27-June 3 Reconciliation Week
June 4 Tiananmen Square Massacre, 1989
June 4 International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression
June 5 World Environment Day
June 7: Feast of Corpus Christi
June 10 Myall Creek Massacre, 1838
‘….any talk of peace, must walk’.
Afghan Youth Peace Volunteer
When you pray, move your feet.
Human security is a child, who did not die,
a disease that did not spread,
a job that was not cut,
an ethnic tension that did not explode in violence;
a dissident who was not silenced.
Human security is not a concern with weapons –
it is a concern with human life and dignity.
Pax Christi International
Knowing one's self, finding one's self, and expending one's self for another are intertwined activities. Love of self, love of God, and love of neighbour are interdependent.
Sidney Callahan With All Our Heart and Mind
The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it.
Our men . . . have killed to exterminate men, women, children, prisoners and captives, active insurgents and suspected people from lads of 10 up.... Our soldiers have pumped salt water into men to ‘make them talk,’ and have taken prisoners people who held up their hands and peacefully surrendered, and an hour later. . . stood them on a bridge and shot them down one by one, to drop into the water below and float down, as examples to those who found their bullet-loaded corpses.
Philadelphia Ledger newspaper in 1901, from its Manila [Philippines] correspondent during the US war with Spain for the control of the Philippines
The only place you and I disagree . . . is with regard to the bombing. You're so goddamned concerned about the civilians, and I (in contrast) don't give a damn. I don't care. …..I'd rather use the nuclear bomb. . . Does that bother you? I just want you to think big.
Richard Nixon to Secretary of State Henry Kissinger on the Watergate tapes
Humanity's most valuable assets have been the non-conformists. Were it not for the non-conformists, he who refuses to be satisfied to go along with the continuance of things as they are, and insists upon attempting to find new ways of bettering things, the world would have known little progress, indeed.
Josiah William Gitt (1884-1973)
An unconscious people, an indoctrinated people, a people fed only partisan information and opinion that confirm their own bias, a people made morbidly obese in mind and spirit by the junk food of propaganda, is less inclined to put up a fight, ask questions and be skeptical. That kind of orthodoxy can kill a democracy - or worse.
If those who support aggressive war had seen a fraction of what I've seen, if they'd watched children fry to death from Napalm and bleed to death from a cluster bomb, they might not utter the claptrap they do.
The propagandist's purpose is to make one set of people forget that certain other sets of people are human.
This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation's homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love.
Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The essence of oligarchical rule is not father-to-son inheritance, but the persistence of a certain world-view and a certain way of life ... A ruling group is a ruling group so long as it can nominate its successors... Who wields power is not important, provided that the hierarchical structure remains always the same.
George Orwell, 1984
War: first, one hopes to win; then one expects the enemy to lose; then, one is satisfied that he too is suffering; in the end, one is surprised that everyone has lost.
Karl Kraus (1874-1936)
Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; that has made it possible for evil to triumph.
Finally, may Christ inflame the desires of all people to break through the barriers which divide them, to strengthen the bonds of mutual love, to learn to understand one another, and to pardon those who have done them wrong. Through Christ’s power and inspiration may all peoples welcome each other to their hearts as brothers and sisters, and may the peace they long for ever flower and ever reign among them.
Pope John XXIII, Pacem in Terris, #171
Finding one’s own voice, however haltingly, imparts the power of the Spirit crying out. The boldness to hear the claim of conscience and follow its deep impulses even in the face of loss; the courage to taste righteous anger and allow it to motivate critical resistance to evil; the willingness to utter the prophetic word--these occurrences inscribe the movement of the Spirit’s compassion into the ambiguity of the world.
Elizabeth Johnson CSJ, She Who Is, p. 126
The civility of no race can be perfect whilst another race is degraded. It is a doctrine alike of the oldest and of the newest philosophy, that man is one, and that you cannot injure any member, without a sympathetic injury to all the members
Ralph Waldo Emerson. 1844
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.
Whenever a human community resists
its own destruction or works for its own renewal;
when structural changes serve the liberation of oppressed peoples;
when law subverts sexism, racism, poverty, and militarism;
when swords are beaten into ploughshares
or bombs into food for the starving;
when the scores of old injustices are healed;
when enemies are reconciled once violence and domination have ceased; whenever the lies and the raping and the killing stop;
wherever diversity is sustained in koinônia;
wherever justice and peace and freedom gain a transformative foothold–-
there the living presence of powerful, blessing mystery
amid the brokenness of the world is mediated.
Elizabeth Johnson CSJ, She Who Is, p.126
What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or in the holy name of liberty and democracy?
Where is it written in the Constitution, in what article or section is it contained, that you may take children from their parents and parents from their children, and compel them to fight the battles of any war in which the folly and wickedness of the government may engage itself? Under what concealment has this power lain hidden, which now for the first time comes forth, with a tremendous and baleful aspect, to trample down and destroy the dearest right of personal liberty? Who will show me any Constitutional injunction which makes it the duty of the American people to surrender everything valuable in life, and even life, itself, whenever the purposes of an ambitious and mischievous government may require it? ... A free government with an uncontrolled power of military conscription is the most ridiculous and abominable contradiction and nonsense that ever entered into the heads of men.
Daniel Webster (1782-1852), US Senator
Strike against war, for without you no battles can be fought! Strike against manufacturing shrapnel and gas bombs and all other tools of murder! Strike against preparedness that means death and misery to millions of human beings! Be not dumb, obedient slaves in an army of destruction! Be heroes in an army of construction!
Helen Keller, to an audience at Carnegie Hall a year before the United States entered World War I.
Power, when shared, is a relationship that enriches everyone. The great rift is not between various human beings and communities. For we all belong together. Rather, the great rift is between care and carelessness, justice and injustice, mercy and mercilessness, compassion and indifference. What divides is not difference but sin, oppression, and injustice. Difference does not destroy creation; rather, it is our sin of allowing oppression and injustice to be perpetrated that destroys. To create a culture of life, we need more than psychology, spirituality and community. We need economics, sustainable agriculture, and a politics of liberation capable of healing our world and restoring the earth to life.’
Jean Zaru, Building a Culture of Peace and Nonviolence in a Context of Oppression, Journal of Religion, Conflict and Peace. no. 2 (Spring 2009)
We must recognize that there can be no justice over the long term without sustainability, and creating a sustainable world will require not only radical change in systems and structures of power but also a radical change in the way we in affluent societies live. It’s time to recognize that if we are serious about the values of equality that we claim to be the core of our politics, we must scale back the level at which we live.
Robert Jensen, professor of journalism
Affirmation of Justice and Peace
I believe in God,
who is love and who has given the earth to all people.
I believe in Jesus Christ,
who came to heal in and through all who work for justice
I believe in the Spirit of God,
who works in and through all who witness to the truth.
I believe in the community of faith,
which is called to be at the service of all people.
I believe in God’s promise to finally destroy the power of sin in us all,
and to establish the kingdom of justice and peace for all humankind.
I believe in human rights,
in the solidarity of all people,
in the power of non-violence.
I do not believe in racism,
in the power that comes from wealth and privilege,
or in any established order that enslaves.
I believe that all women and men are equally human,
that order based on violence and injustice is not order.
I do not believe that war and hunger
are inevitable and peace unattainable.
I believe in the beauty of simplicity,
in love with open hands, in peace on earth.
I do not believe that suffering need be in vain,
that death is the end,
that the disfigurement of our world is what God intended.
I dare to believe,
always and in spite of everything,
in God’s power to transform and transfigure,
fulfilling the promise of a new heaven and a new earth
where justice and peace will flourish.
Display a heart of boundless love for all the world,
in all its height and depth and broad extent,
love unrestrained, without hate or enmity.
Then as you stand or walk, sit or lie,
until overcome with drowsiness,
devote our mind entire to this.
This is known as living here a life divine.
Sean McDonagh, To Care for the Earth, London, Geoffrey Chapman, 1986, p. 145.
A time comes when silence is betrayal. We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak.
Martin Luther King, Jr. (Excerpts from a speech on the Vietnam War)
The light which shines in the eye
is really the light of the heart.
The light which fills the heart
is the light of God.
Rumi (Sufi poet)
Come, come, whoever you are,
Wanderer, worshipper, lover of leaving,
It doesn’t matter.
Ours is not a caravan of despair.
Come, come even if you have broken your vows a thousand times.
Come – come yet again, come.
Rumi (Sufi poet)
A Warm, Moist, Salty God
Deep in the forest
I found my God
leaping through the trees,
spinning with the glancing sunlight,
caressing with the breeze.
There where the grasses
rose and fell
fanning the perfumed air,
I smelt her beauty,
Deep in the city
I found my God,
weeping in the bar,
prowling beneath the glaring lights,
dodging speeding car.
There where the women
were pimped and raped,
cursing for a light,
I felt her presence,
sobbing in the night.
Deep in myself
I found my God
stirring in my guts,
quickening my middle-age bones,
stilling all my buts.
There where my spirit
had slumbered long,
numbed into a trance,
A moist, warm, salty God
and beckoned me to Dance.
Edwina Gateley, A Warm, Moist, Salty God: Women journeying towards wisdom, Source Books, 1993
Religion is not 'what one does with one's solitariness.'
Religion is what one does with the presence of God.
Abraham Joshua Heschel, I Asked for Wonder, Crossroads, New York, 1987
The glory of God is a human person fully alive. A human person fully alive is the glory of God.
Because God is the creator, redeemer, lover of the world, God’s own honor is at stake in human happiness. Wherever human beings are violated, diminished, or have their life drained away, God’s glory is dimmed and dishonored. Wherever human beings are quickened to fuller and richer life, God’s glory is enhanced. A community of justice and peace (thriving among human beings) and God’s glory increase in direct and not inverse proportion
Elizabeth Johnson CSJ, She Who Is
The solidarity which binds all people together as members of a common family makes it impossible for wealthy nations to look with indifference upon the hunger, misery and poverty of other nations whose citizens are unable to enjoy even elementary human rights. The nations of the world are becoming more and more dependent on one another and it will not be possible to preserve a lasting peace so long as glaring economic and social imbalances persist.
Pope John XXIII, Mater et Magistra, #157
If to be feelingly alive to the sufferings of my fellow-creatures is to be a fanatic, I am one of the most incurable fanatics ever permitted to be at large.
William Wilberforce, British abolitionist and social reformer (1759-1833)
Give me grace to live my life,
within and without, the way you lived your life, O Christ.
Pedro Arrupe, SJ
It is useless to utter fervent petitions for that Kingdom to be established and that Will be done, unless we are willing to do something about it ourselves. ... We are agents of the Creative Spirit in this world. Real advance in the spiritual life means accepting this vocation with all it involves.
Evelyn Underhill, The Spiritual Life (1936)
I stand before you as a moral being... and as a moral being I feel that I owe it to the suffering slave and the deluded master, to my country and to the world, to do all that I can to overturn a system of complicated crimes, built upon the broken hearts and the prostrate bodies of my countrymen in chains and cemented by the blood, sweat, and tears of my sisters in bonds.
Angelina Grimké, Abolitionist and feminist (1805-1879)
Teach me your Way, O Christ
Christ, teach me your way of treating others
--sinners, children, Pharisees, Pilates and Herods,
and also John the Baptists.
Teach me your way of eating and drinking,
and how to act when I'm tired from work and need rest.
Teach me compassion for the suffering,
the poor, the blind, and the lame.
You who shed tears, show me how to live my deepest emotions.
Above all, I want to learn how you endured your Cross.
Teach me your way of looking at people:
the way you glanced at Peter after his denial,
the way you touched the heart of the rich young man
and the hearts of your disciples.
I would like to meet you as you really are,
since you change those who really know you.
If only I could hear you speak as when you spoke
in the synagogue of Capernaum
or on the Mount of Beatitudes!
To make peace with an enemy one must work with that enemy, and that enemy becomes one's partner.
When a person tries to act in accordance with his [or her] conscience, when he tries to speak the truth, when he tries to behave like a citizen, even in conditions where citizenship is degraded, it won't necessarily lead anywhere, but it might....Even a purely moral act that has no hope of any immediate and visible effect can gradually and indirectly, over time, gain in political significance.
Vaclav Havel, poet, playwright and former President of the Czech Republic
Bible texts are best read with a pair of glasses made out of today's newspaper.
Dorothee Sölle, German theologian and writer, from Justice in an Unjust World, by Karen Labacqz.
The question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be ... The nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.
Martin Luther King Jr.
We are called to assist the earth to heal her wounds and in the process heal our own - indeed, to embrace the whole creation in all its diversity, beauty, and wonder.
Wangari Maathai, Kenyan environmentalist, political activist, and 2004 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate
Prayer for Peace
We pray for those leaders of our communities,
our church, our country and our world,
that they may make decisions that are in accord
with God’s commandments that bring life, justice and peace.
For those who have died by actions of violence,
that they may be raised with Christ who died for them
and that they may know the unending life and glory
of the kingdom of peace and light.
For those who have survived violence,
that they will be sheltered in the compassion
of God and our community and that, feeling the compassion of Jesus,
they may find healing and hope.
For those who commit acts of violence against others,
that their hearts may be moved by Christ’s grace,
and that they may be transformed
by the Spirit of love.
For ourselves, that we will work together to end violence
and bring life, peace and security to our world.
Pax Christi UK
Our common humanity is more important than all the things that divide us.
Mairead Corrigan, 1976 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and cofounder of the Community of Peace People in Northern Ireland.
As long as people use tactics to oppress or restrict other people from being free, there is work to be done.
‘The solidarity which binds all people together as members of a common family makes it impossible for wealthy nations to look with indifference upon the hunger, misery and poverty of other nations whose citizens are unable to enjoy even elementary human rights. The nations of the world are becoming more and more dependent on one another and it will not be possible to preserve a lasting peace so long as glaring economic and social imbalances persist.’
John XXIII, Mater et Magistra 157
The communion of Christians with Jesus has the communion of God as Trinity, namely, the unity of the Son to the Father in the gift of the Holy Spirit, as its model and source, and is itself the means to achieve this communion: united to the Son in the Spirit's bond of love, Christians are united to the Father.
John Paul II, Christifideles Laici, 18
Whenever a human community resists its own destruction or works for its own renewal; when structural changes serve the liberation of oppressed peoples; when law subverts sexism, racism, poverty, and militarism; when swords are beaten into ploughshares or bombs into food for the starving; when the scores of old injustices are healed; when enemies are reconciled once violence and domination have ceased; whenever the lies and the raping and the killing stop; wherever diversity is sustained in koin?nia; wherever justice and peace and freedom gain a transformative foothold – there the living presence of powerful, blessing mystery amid the brokenness of the world is mediated.
Elizabeth Johnson CSJ, She Who Is, 126
There are many versions of this story built around the question ‘How do you know when the night is over the day has begun?’
It was dusk on the bank of a river that curved from the sea to the mountain. There, perched in the deep bend of a branch of an oak tree, sat a rabbi, and at his feet were students from nations near and far. As the evening slowly reached up from the horizon and spread across the vast expanse of the sky, the rabbi and his students spoke of the great issues of the day. As they did each night, they spoke of issues of the heart, of humanity, and of hope.
The rabbi peered into the distance and turned to his students to ask, ‘Tell me – if you can – how we will know when the night is over and the day has begun?’
The students sat back for a minute and gazed at the horizon and witnessed as the deep blue of evening began to blend with the golden canvas of sunset. And they knew that the rabbi spoke neither of timetables nor of the earth’s rotation on its axis. No, the rabbi spoke of larger things.
After regarding the question for a while, one of the students raised his hand and said, ‘Rabbi, we will know that the night is over and the day has begun when we can see the difference between a goat and a lamb.’
The rabbi shook his head and said, ‘No, you have made a thoughtful effort, but that is not it either.’
The rabbi paused and said, ‘No, that is a good answer, but I don’t think that is it.’
Soon, another student offered her hand and said, ‘Rabbi, I think the night is over and the day has begun when we can see the difference between a fig tree and an olive tree.’
The students seemed confused and were discouraged. Quietly, they gazed upwards where scattered stars and a full moon replaced the sun and brightened the deep dark of the endless sky.
After a moment, a soft voice could be heard from the bank closest to the river. It came from one of the Rabbi’s most reluctant students. Shy and somewhat hesitant, she began, ’Rabbi, I think we will know that the night is over and the day has begun when we can see a rich man and a poor man and hear them say, ‘He is my brother.’’
The student continued, her voice growing stronger.
‘When we see a black woman and a white woman and hear them say, ‘She is my sister.’ It will be then when we know that the night is over and the day has begun.’
The rabbi nodded his head, pleased with the wisdom of his student and said, ‘That is right.’ Masechet Berachot of the Babylonian Talmud.
Reflection on the readings
Today’s feast really is simple. In Jesus, God is not only ‘for us’ but ‘with us’ and - through the presence of the Spirit - ‘within us.’
The writer of Deuteronomy reminds his contemporaries how, throughout their history, God was with them; how God was involved with people and fully invested in their lives. He also exhorted the people to respond by fixing in their hearts a profound sense of who God is for them. Paul also celebrates the God who is ‘for us’; who through whom the Spirit gives new status to people: that of sons and daughters who can call on God knowing that God is not only for us, but with and within us – and everyone else.
This is a feast of relationship and connections. It challenges the many attempts to avoid connection by individualism and thus care and responsibility; when our hurried disregard fails to take us into compassionate responses; when our values need to be looked again in terms of economics. This week the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith Dicastery For Promoting Integral Human Development in a document Considerations for an Ethical Discernment Regarding Some Aspects of the Present Economic-Financial System, took aim at the global financial system, and the pursuit of profit at any cost which serve to fuel ‘the inequality so pronounced today.’ What was to have been a response to the 2008 financial crisis that would curb ‘predatory and speculative tendencies ……..the response seems at times like a return to the heights of myopic egoism, limited by an inadequate framework that, excluding the common good, also excludes from its horizons the concern to create and spread wealth, and to eliminate the inequality so pronounced today.’ The document goes on to conclude with hope: ‘In front of the massiveness and pervasiveness of today’s economic-financial systems, we could be tempted to abandon ourselves to cynicism, and to think that with our poor forces we can do very little.……… Every gesture of our liberty, even if it appears fragile and insignificant, if it is really directed towards the authentic good, rests on Him who is the good Lord of history and becomes part of a buoyancy that exceeds our poor forces, uniting indissolubly all the actions of good will in a web that unites heaven and earth, which is a true instrument of the humanization of each person, and the world as a whole. This is all that we need for living well and for nourishing a hope that may be at the height of our dignity as human persons.’
The austerity - trickle-down cruelty - that continues to be imposed on countries is concretised in the collapse of systems, people losing jobs, livelihoods and social security. Do these not suggest that our relationships are ‘out of whack’ when our economic and financial systems and profit at all costs leave many people trapped in long working hours, low paid employment, and increasing job insecurity or even unemployment? Our relationship to creation may also be ‘out of whack’ that with increased effects of climate change, food insecurity, extinction of species, apathy continues. Our concern for oppressed peoples such as the Rohingya or the Palestinians at this time can easily be forgotten by the silence and neglect from one day to the next on our media. Today’s feast must speak to the breakdown of relations as people who seek protection or even rescuing are often responded to by poor fishermen and nations whilst the rich and powerful find excuses to take avoid responsibility.
God is not seen as a solitary or unrelated person but active and continually connecting with us. ‘It is not good for a person to be alone’ (Genesis) An understanding of the Trinity erodes the monarchical and patriarchal power of monotheism. This contains a vision of a community of women and men in church and society where relationship is fundamental to God and that community is the foundation of God's interaction with the world. This God is not unmoved by what people do to one another but calls us to shared responsibility for one another. In the Book of Deuteronomy we saw the wonder of people proclaiming statements of fact as well as the wonder of God’s closeness to people through history, and clearly assured in the Gospel today.
The beginning of justice or right relationship and care begins with the realisation but it must lead to solidarity based on listening to others. The other should be seen and treated as of equal worth as oneself. Everyone should be responded to and included- not left alone, abandoned or hurt.
Jesus sends the disciples (and us) with a mission to bring this experience of God to the world; that we are made in God’s image – an image that reflects a relational way of being and living with God and each other - and all creation. Geographically, this begins in our homes and streets: it includes those who are hurting, neglected, dismissed, overlooked.
Concretely, every time we seek to heal, offer forgiveness, give ourselves for the sake of another, use our ‘gift of ears’ more than the ‘gift of tongues’; embrace those who are unwanted or neglected (often messy and not very clean!); speak the truth fearlessly against injustice or violence and war, hypocrisy, greed and violence or to promote peace and right relationship with all creatures – then we are witnessing to our connection with the God we celebrate today.
The varying presences of God in people tells us that this feast not just about God but about us. It is the feast of people who have been caught up in the embrace of God - whose name is ‘Love’ - and reflect that to one another and seek continue to extend that embrace to ever wider circles of people. This is what people do when they seek to bring hope to people that they do not know, or will never see, and who certainly will never personally thank them. This mission to gather people as one was to people without much preparation, and to people, as the gospel suggests, had their doubts, their questions, uncertainties and fears; people who from time to time wavered in, or even withdrew from, their commitment. Overriding this is the promise: ‘I am with you always’ which comes with the command, ‘Go, make disciples, preach, teach, baptize’ and says to us, ‘I am with you always.’
It is our mission to build up in our corner of God’s world the inclusive patterns suggested by today’s feast or the ‘Beloved Community’ as espoused by Martin Luther King Jr. It might seem an exaggeration but it is becomes concrete in our work of peace and justice, it becomes concrete when a nation can vote for equality for all its people, it touches on attempts to recognise and acknowledge the first people of this land as sisters and brothers and also their deep connection to their land, their ‘home’, it touches on the way we see people whether they be Rohingya, or of Afghan, Sri Lankan, Burmese and anyone who has had the image of God smudged.
Our actions for the street person, the drug addict, the homeless person, the annoying person who demands our attention reveal what Jesus tried to do: that this God is not remote. We put skin on God by our interactions, our care, and our justice seeking. For Jesus, God is a part of what we do. It is a way of seeing love in action. This God is not in heaven but in each of us and reflected in what we do. If we want to look for God this is where we must search - God in the liberating practice of people.
We are sent to extend God's work of creating a more humane society. The peace of the Trinity will no longer seem an abstraction when we recognise that God is a community of life and love into which each one of us is drawn. There is no room for spectators in this community. This is what calls us to action and calls us to carry the love and goodness of God everywhere we go.