Who we are

Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, an Australian community, in a worldwide religious congregation.

Ministry Mission

Jesus loved with a human heart: with him we proclaim his love to the world.

Peace, Justice, Creation

We work to discover through advocacy, healing and reconciliation, God's presence in our world.

Spirituality

We are to be on earth the heart of God. God has no other heart but ours.

LITURGY NOTES FOR THE TWENTIETH SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME 2018

20th

20th Sunday of the Year

August 19th, 2018

 20th 2

Suggested formula for recognition of indigenous people and their land.

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.

As we do this, we must also acknowledge the loss of their hunting grounds,

the destruction of their ceremonial places and sacred sites, 

the great loss of life from all kinds of violence and disease,

and that the land was never given away.

or

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

that was never given away.

or

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,

and as we pray for justice and their constitutional recognition

may we also be mindful that the land has never been given away.  

    

 

  

 

‘God is like … mama, who doesn’t think supper is over until the last child is seated and fed’.

 

Your God is too small.. and so is our notion of what God expects…. What is God thinking about in these times of war, when the gap between the have and the have-nots is widening and our rulers have abandoned the ideals of equality and justice? In such times God’s heart aches and it is a sin to be silent.’

Janes A Forbes Jr, Whose Gospel?

 

 

 

 

Readings

First reading Proverbs 9:1-6

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 34:2-3, 10-11, 12-13, 14-15 R. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

Second reading Ephesians 5:15-20

Gospel John 6:51-58

 

Penitential Rites

  • Jesus, you invite us to eat your body and drink your blood. Jesus, have mercy.
  • Jesus, you invite us to live in you and to be one with you so that you can be one with us.  Christ, have mercy.
  • Jesus, you invite us to eat you as our bread that overcomes death and makes us live for others. Jesus, have mercy.

 

Opening Prayer

Living and loving God,

you let us taste and see your goodness

by giving us Jesus Christ, your Son

as the bread and drink of life.

May his life flow in us and through us

to our brothers and sisters,

that we may become his body to the world.

or

Living and loving God,

your  embrace and care extends beyond

the boundaries of race and nation to the hearts of all people.

May the barriers and walls, which prejudice raises between us,

fall beneath the shadow of your outstretched arm.

General Intercessions

Introduction: We have been nourished us with Jesus’ words of life and he invites us to his table. Let us bring to him all our cares and those of the people we love. The response is: Taste and see the goodness of God.

God, help us to overcome all injustice and violence with the creative loving spirit of Jesus Christ.

God, help us to bring an end to this era of terrorism and violence that so violates the spirit of Jesus Christ.

God, help us to respect our common home, the earth, and work together to respect the environment. 

God, help us to understand and respect all our brothers and sisters.

God, help us to value individuals and work to end torture and the trafficking in human beings.

God, help us to learn to listen to one another and enter into healthy political dialogue.

God, help us create a society that offers justice for all people, especially the poor.

God, let us live “not as foolish persons, but as wise” empowered by the Spirit of Jesus Christ.

  1. For the people of Syria who continue to face extreme violence from forces within and outside the country: may the spirit within the humanity of all the parties involved seek to overcome injustice and violence, response: Taste and see the goodness of God.

 

  1. For the Syrian people where civil war is raging, for to the people of Lombok who continue to suffer the effects of many earthquakes, for people who live on the land and live with the effects of severe drought, and to every space on our earth where people need God’s grace: may the peace and calmness of God’s presence and love come to all, response: Taste and see the goodness of God.
  1. For people who are trafficked, in bondage and enslaved in any way, for people who suffer torture around the world, and for people who are victims of domestic violence: may we value each individual as sacred and made in the image of God and work to overcome this inhumanity, response: Taste and see the goodness of God.

 

  1. For those who have been tortured – especially Guantánamo Bay, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Burma, and other secret places: may those who have engaged in torture of any kind recognise God’s image in all persons and treat them with dignity, worth and sacredness, response: Taste and see the goodness of God.
  1. For the Church: that the Eucharist may be the source of its vitality and of its ability to witness to the presence of Christ in the community, response: Taste and see the goodness of God.
  1. For Christian people everywhere: that they may hunger and thirst for justice in the world so that every person has access to an equal share of the goods of the earth, response: Taste and see the goodness of God.

 

  1. For the peoples of low lying Pacific nations: that as they face loss of their homes, way of life, traditional foods and culture, may the developed nations become more aware of their responsibility for their plight and their responsibility to help, response: Taste and see the goodness of God.
  1. For all present at this celebration of the Eucharist: that the Spirit of Christ may unite all who hear the word and share the bread and wine of life so that they may be open to the outsider, response: Taste and see the goodness of God.

 

Concluding Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, you give yourself to us as the bread of life. Help us to give ourselves like you, without charge and without regret. Stay with us, now and for ever

 

Prayer over the Gifts

Living God,

you invite us to the table of Jesus, your Son.

Make us one with him,

appease our hunger with his bread

and refresh us with his drink,

that we may live his life

of courage and commitment.

 

Prayer after Communion

Living God,

we have been nourished

with your Son, Jesus Christ,

the true bread and drink of life.

May Jesus take flesh in us

that we may do for one another

what he has done for us in his self-giving.

Parish Notices

August 19: World Humanitarian Day

August 23: International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition

August 30: International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances

 

Further Resources

For people who are tortured……

Guantánamo Bay

Syria

Iran

Iraq

Afghanistan

Burma,

Syria…….

Honduras

Guatemala

O God, you have created all people in your image, each one of us with dignity and worth, sacred in your sight. Help us this day and everyday to hold that truth in our hearts and to honour it in all we do, treating every person as your beloved child.

We pray for the courage to confront the abuses authorised and committed in our name – the use of torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment – in the effort to make us safe.

We grieve, knowing that inflicting injustice and cruelty on even one person scars and diminishes all of us. The use of torture has degraded victims, perpetrators, and policy makers, and damages the soul of any nation.

We rejoice in your healing and redemption and in your promise that that which is broken, you will make whole. May we faithfully participate in your repairing of the world.

We pray, merciful God for an end the use of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment – without exceptions.

Responding to the Signs of the Times

God of mercy and compassion,

We recognize the signs of our times

Through the affirmations of our Pope and our Church

Of the value of life and the human dignity,

Of mothers, fathers, and children at the U.S./Mexico border,

Of all migrants and refugees around the world,

Of prison inmates on death row,

Of those who are ‘throw away’ people at the margins,

Of all who struggle for decent housing and decent work.

God of mercy and compassion,

We recognize the systems and structures of sin

That impede human flourishing,

That deny people of their rights,

That put up barriers to voting and being heard,

That encourage racism and fear of the other,

That dismiss the value of solidarity.

God of mercy and compassion,

We recognize the signs of hope you send,

The willingness to stand up for the stranger,

The vision and commitment of our youth,

The call to end the death penalty around the world,

The new vocations to public service,

The growing sense of the common good,

The concerns and care for Creation.

May we all be engaged in the ‘continuing conversion’

To your way of justice and peace

As we recognize and respond with mercy, compassion,

Commitment, and solidarity.

To the signs of our time. Amen.

Jane Deren, Ph.D.

© 2018, Education for Justice, a project of Center of Concern

Living Holiness Today

Creator of every human being, of every human life,

You call us to a live a life of holiness,

A life for the times in which we live,

Brimming with risks, challenges, and opportunities.

You remind us that we are never completely ourselves

Unless we are part of a community

And that holiness is found in our next-door neighbors,

In those living among us—those who reflect you.

May we come to see the great cloud of witnesses among us:

The elderly and the young,

The migrant and the refugee,

The asylum seeker and the immigrant,

The hungry and the poor,

The prisoner and the person confined to institutions,

The trafficked and the tortured,

The ethnic minority groups and the LGBTQ community,

The feminist and the visionary,

The educator and the learner,

The journalist and the poet,

The community activist and the policy maker,

The environmentalist and the economist,

The artist and the musician,

And the grassroots organizer and the conscientious objector.

Through their witness, may we learn to be poor of heart;

To react with meekness and humility;

To mourn with, and wipe the tears of, the anguished;

To hunger for righteous justice;

To act with kindness and mercy;

To keep our hearts free of hatred and of all that tarnishes love;

To be artisans of peace and nonviolence;

And to walk the path of the Gospel, even if it requires being persecuted and humiliated.

Creator of every human being, of every human life,

Unsettle us, challenge us, and demand authentic transformation

In the way we live a life of holiness rooted in Gospel justice. Amen.

—Dianna Ortiz, O.S.U.

Based on Pope Francis’s apostolic exhortation, Gaudete et Exsultate: On the Call to Holiness in Today’s World’ https://bit.ly/2qm6f4C

© 2018, Education for Justice, a project of Center of Concern

Prayer of Confession

Gracious and loving God,

we have failed to live as resurrection people. 

We have spoken when we should have listened;

we have been silent when we should have raised our voices. 

We have strayed from hope and grown weary

in the constant struggle for justice. 

Your Holy Spirit has been active in our midst,

but we have let fear sway our actions. 

For any acts of injustice that have been undertaken in our name,

this day we especially remember acts of torture,

forgive us of our silence and our acquiescence to fear. 

Take any silence and shame and turn it into action for your beloved community.

 

Dangerous Women Creed (Prayer to remember the members of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious currently meeting in the USA)

Lynne Hybels, Columnist for Sojourners Magazine

Dear God, please make us dangerous women.

May we be women who acknowledge our power to change, and grow,

and be radically alive for God.

May we be healers of wounds and righters of wrongs.

May we weep with those who weep and speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.

May we cherish children, embrace the elderly, and empower the poor.

May we pray deeply and teach wisely.

May we be strong and gentle leaders.

May we sing songs of joy and talk down fear.

May we never hesitate to let passion push us, conviction compel us, and righteous anger energize us.
May we strike fear into all that is unjust and evil in the world.

May we dismantle abusive systems and silence lies with truth.

May we shine like stars in a darkened generation.

May we overflow with goodness in the name of God and by the power of Jesus.

And in that name and by that power, may we change the world.

Dear God, please make us dangerous women. Amen.

 

Praying for the Earth

We give thanks to You our God for life

for the wonder of creation

and its amazing variety.

’You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power,

for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created’ (Revelation 4: 11)

So with all creation we praise you, Creator God,

for what you have brought into being

for its magnificence, wonder and variety.  

We praise you:

for this universe of countless stars

                for this planet of earth and its abundance of life

                for the oceans and sea creatures

                for the deserts and their unexpected life

                for the mountains and cascading waterfalls

                for the plains and the grasses and flowers

for the forests with their prolific variety of life

for the beauty of birds and the wonder of wildlife

for domestic creatures

and for one another - our fellow human beings 

‘Let everything that has breath praise the Lord’ (Psalm 150: 6)  

We thank You God for our own life and the lives of our loved ones

for the great variety of people and cultures in our land.

We pray that we may learn to live in harmony with God,

with one another and with nature. 

As we commit ourselves in thanksgiving, as the body of Christ on earth,

to preserve and care for one another and God’s creation,

So we pray that justice may be established among us

that the exploitation of the poor, of women and children may be ended.

That economic justice may be established

overcoming the gross inequalities of excess among some,

starvation among others. 

‘Let justice roll down like waters,

and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream’ (Amos 5:24)  

We pray for a fair distribution of the resources of the world,

so that all may have access to:

clean water and sanitation,

air free of pollution

soil in which to grow our crops.   

We pray that we may use the resources of the world

for the benefit of people

and conservation of the natural world,

Rather than the gross misuse and abuse of resources and human energy

on weapons of destruction.

For it is through justice that our peace and security is found,

not in reliance on armaments.  

‘A king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength’ (Psalm 33:16)

 We pray we may be instruments of peace and non-violence.  

‘Administer true justice, show kindness and compassion to each other…’ (Zechariah 7:9-11) 

We confess that we have frequently exploited and ‘ruled’ one another and the natural world

for our own selfish ends,

failing to establish justice or show compassion.  

May we know the sanctity that you have bestowed on all life.  

May we accept the responsibility you have given us

to nurture, care for and protect the earth –

that it may be a better place for our having lived in it.  

May we play our part in preserving the earth for the future

for the benefit of the children

and may we never be responsible for the extinction of a plant or animal.  

So we pray that your reign of love may be established,

that justice may be established in our land

that we may live in harmony with one another and with creation,  

‘making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace’ (Ephesians 4:3)  

O God, may new life fill us all, through the gift of your Holy Spirit,

to know your wonder, your love and the abundant life you give.

May we live Christ’s Love, Peace and Unity

O God of eternal light, heaven and earth are the work of your hands, and all creation sings your praise and beauty.  As in the beginning, by your Spirit, you gave life and order to all that is, so by the same Spirit redeem us and all things, through Christ our Lord.

Network of Earthkeeping Christian Communities in South Africa

 

The development of peoples depends, above all, on a recognition that the human race is a single family working together in true communion, not simply a group of subjects who happen to live side by side. … It is not by isolation that man establishes his worth, but by placing himself in relation with others and with God.

Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate, 53

 

For believers, the world derives neither from blind chance nor from strict necessity, but from God's plan. This is what gives rise to the duty of believers to unite their efforts with those of all men and women of good will, with the followers of other religions and with non-believers, so that this world of ours may effectively correspond to the divine plan: living as a family under the Creator's watchful eye.

Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate, 57

The Church's social teaching is a rich treasure of wisdom about building a just society and living lives of holiness amidst the challenges of modern society. It offers moral principles and coherent values that are badly needed in our time. In this time of widespread violence and diminished respect for human life and dignity in our country and around the world, the Gospel of life and the biblical call to justice need to be proclaimed and shared with new clarity, urgency, and energy.

US Bishops, Sharing Catholic Social Teaching: Challenges and Directions

Catholic social teaching is built on a commitment to the poor. This commitment arises from our experiences of Christ in the Eucharist. … We are called to reach out and to build relationships of love and justice. … Our commitment to the Catholic social mission must be rooted in and strengthened by our spiritual lives. In our relationship with God we experience the conversion of heart that is necessary to truly love one another as God has loved us.

US Bishops, Sharing Catholic Social Teaching: Challenges and Directions

 

Feminism's agenda is basic: It asks that women not be forced to choose between public justice and private happiness.

Susan Faludi, U.S. feminist and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist

Remember that when you leave this earth, you can take with you nothing that you have received ... but only what you have given: a full heart, enriched by honest service, love, sacrifice, and courage.

St. Francis of Assisi

Prayer always thrusts one out into action sooner or later. One of its main functions is to induce one to think creatively; it stretches the imagination; it enables one to see things and people not as they are but as they might be.

Muriel Lester, social reformer and pacifist (1883-1968)

We are now faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked, and dejected with a lost opportunity. The tide in the affairs of men does not remain at flood -- it ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is adamant to every plea and rushes on.

Over the bleached bones and jumbled residues of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words, ‘Too late.’ There is an invisible book of life that faithfully records our vigilance or our neglect. Omar Khayyam is right: ‘The moving finger writes, and having writ moves on.’

Martin Luther King, Beyond Vietnam speech, April 4, 1967 http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article2564.htm

One-fifth of humanity lives in countries where many people think nothing of spending $2 a day on a cappuccino. Another fifth of humanity survive on less than $1 a day and live in countries where children die for want of a simply anti-mosquito bed net.

UN Human Development Report, 2005

 

People have not been horrified by war to a sufficient extent ... War will exist until that distant day when the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige as the warrior does today.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy

I am deeply disturbed by the long-distance murder of poor and defenceless people that passes for legitimate ‘war’ in our time. It is incredibly cowardly, and I marvel that more people don’t jump up and down in the streets, pointing this out. How much courage does it take to point and shoot a missile at a town you’ve never seen, filled with children whose voices you’ve never herd. What is religion for if it is not to protect each other? To see and understand each other’s nightmares and fears, worries and heartaches. Our dreams and hopes for ourselves and our offspring? If a religion’s primary meaning becomes the destruction of its enemies, it has ceased to be of use in the healing of the world.

Alice Walker (This quote could also be applied at the present use of drones in Gaza, Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan that kill people by operators thousands of kilometres away)

 

I was a bombadier in WW 2. When you are up 30,000 feet you do not hear the screams or smell the blood or see those without limbs or eyes. It was not til I read Hersey's Hiroshima that I realized what bomber pilots do.

Howard Zinn

 

I love America more than any other country in the world and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.

James Baldwin

 

We need a type of patriotism that recognizes the virtues of those who are opposed to us. We must get away from the idea that America is to be the leader of the world in everything. She can lead in some things. The old ‘manifest destiny’ idea ought to be modified so that each nation has the manifest destiny to do the best it can - and that without cant, without the assumption of self-righteousness and with a desire to learn to the uttermost from other nations.

Francis John McConnell

 

It is lamentable, that to be a good patriot one must become the enemy of the rest of (mankind).

Voltaire

Around us, life bursts forth with miracles – a glass of water, a ray of sunshine, a leaf, a caterpillar, a flower, laugher, raindrops. It you live in awareness, it is easy to see miracles everywhere.  Each human being is a multiplicity of miracles everywhere.  Eyes that see thousands of colours, shapes, and forms; ears that hear a bee flying or a thunderclap; a brain that ponders a speck of dust as easily as the entire cosmos; a heart that beats in rhythm with the heartbeat of all beings.  When we are tired and feel discouraged by life’s daily struggles, we may not notice these miracles, but they are always there.

Thich Nhat Hanh, Vietnamese Buddhist monk and peace leader.

Wonder at things that are before you, making this the first step for further knowledge.

Clement of Alexandria

The present war crisis is something we have made entirely for and by ourselves.  There is in reality not the slightest logical reason for war, and yet the whole world is plunging headlong into frightful destruction, and doing so with the purpose of avoiding war and preserving peace! This is a true war-madness, an illness of the mind and the spirit…. Of all the countries that are sick, America is perhaps the most grievously afflicted.

Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation (1962)

To forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.

Elie Wiesel, Night

Setting out is first of all letting go of oneself. Breaking through the shell of selfishness hardening us within our own ego. To stop revolving round oneself as if we were the center of everything. Refusing to be ringed in by the problems of our own small world. However important these may be, humanity is more important and our task is to serve humanity…Setting out is not covering miles of land or sea, or travelling faster than the speed of sound. It is first and foremost opening ourselves to other people, trying to get to know them, going out to meet them…It is possible to travel alone. But the good traveller knows that the journey is human life and life needs company. ‘Companion’ means the one who eats the same bread.

Dom Helder Camara, former archbishop of Recife, Brazil

Indeed a quick glance around this broken world makes it painfully obvious that we don't need more arguments on behalf of God; we need more people who live as if they are in covenant with Unconditional Love, which is our best definition of God.

Robin R. Meyers, Saving Jesus from the Church

New things are possible for us in our life

once we acknowledge the inner mess, 

Jesus comes to life here and now.

And if we begin by saying:

‘Where we are, he’s been’,

we begin to hear the other side of this great message:

‘Where he is, we shall be’.

Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury.

 

People think pleasing God is all God cares about. But any fool in the world can see [he] is always trying to please us back.

Alice Walker, The Color Purple

can it be?

have I for so long

forgotten to feed myself?

yes.

for nigh a year now

I was slowly starving.

getting lost in busy days,

tossing aside the hunger

that chewed away inside.

yet, I did not die.

by some quiet miracle
I made it to this moment

of truth:

I nearly starved to death.

it was not my body

that I failed to feed.

it was my spirit,

left alone for days

without nourishment or care.

and then one day

I paused to look within,

shocked at what I found:

so thin of faith,

so weak in understanding,

so needy of encouragement.

my starving spirit cried the truth:

I can!

I will!

I must

be fed!

Joyce Rupp

 

Our planet is a homeland and humanity is one people living in a common home.

Pope Francis, Laudato Si, 164

 

The development of peoples depends, above all, on a recognition that the human race is a single family working together in true communion, not simply a group of subjects who happen to live side by side. … It is not by isolation that man establishes his worth, but by placing himself in relation with others and with God.

Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate, 53

 

Gracious Wisdom,

you have set your table and called us to your banquet.

You allure us with your invitation.

Teach us to recognize and love all your ways, both familiar and subversive,

and place your unending melody in our hearts.

Amen.

 

Reflections on the readings

The key word this week is wisdom. Today’s scriptures call us to live wisely. We may not agree on what constitutes wisdom. There is the conventional wisdom, (how things work in most situations) in contrast to everyday foolishness. In the upside-down world of the Bible, however, ‘foolishness’  is presented as wisdom. That ‘foolishness’ is seen in a God who endures hatred and rejection? The foolishness of a God who wholeheartedly stands on the side of justice and vehemently against injustice: taking the side of those who are unjustly treated. The wisdom the scriptures speak of is not esoteric knowledge, but about doing.

Proverbs depicts Wisdom as a woman. There is definitely subversive potential here. The suggestion is that God (as Lady Wisdom) really wants to reach out to the fools, the senseless and the immature – those who are the least or of no account. Wisdom personified is occupied with hosting a feast and building a house, that is, building a community, a new people, God’s reign, the cosmos itself. This is not something or remote or unattainable, but present in small details: setting the table, getting the wine and preparing food for guests and even going to invite ‘the simple’ to the feast.  The feast is a metaphor for the banquet of life, and partaking of the meal is connected with walking with new and different understanding. The invitees to this feast are not only the wealthy and the elite, but people who are lacking in different ways, the ‘simple’ marginalised. This inclusive invitation is reminiscent of Jesus parables.

These days it seems that this ‘wisdom’ is in short supply. We can often choose expediency and self-interest over the common good. Leaders in the corporate world are measured not because they come up with best solutions for sustainability and social responsibility, but because they serve share-holders who want to see their investments grow. There is opposition in politics not because of principles but for political gain and one-upmanship. We have seen religious communities fall prey to holding on to self-interested beliefs and practices for their own benefit, rather than embrace what it serves whole planet and its peoples.

The wisdom presented in the scriptures, but foolishness in the world, shows how God works. It turns out to be most powerful. God has so often tried to reach out to us in many ways that did not do the trick. Liberation from slavery in Egypt did not work. Commitment was not achieved by offering the people the Promised Land. When they wanted a king like other peoples, and were given a King, they still ignored their covenant commitments. Being led into exile and back home again did not work either. Then, God comes as one of the ‘least of these’, born to poor parents, refugees, who in the contemporary pyramids of power were at the bottom. Hardly seems wise!  By starting from below, Jesus says things that go against conventional wisdom such as love your enemies, prayer for your persecutors, the first shall be last are signs that the reign of God is near. It is hardly conventional wisdom to desire to create a new humanity, a community of equals based on love, rather than on power, privilege and coercion. It is hardly conventional wisdom to promote nonviolence over revenge. It is hardly conventional wisdom to go slowly rather than quickly. The Japanese writer, Kosuke Koyama, in Water Buffalo Theology, speaks of the ‘three mile-an-hour’ God based on how fast a person can walk. The Gospels reveal how Jesus walked everywhere. When one walks one can also talk, one can stop and have time for others, one can eat and touch people and interact with them. This is how God works through Jesus. This wisdom is the remote wisdom of great sayings but captures a way of living and serving with a particular sensitivity for suffering. It is a way of understanding and looking with open eyes; it is about having a capacity to make visible what is invisible; of paying attention to inconvenient suffering, of taking responsibility for what is broken in our world whether it is directly people or the environment.

Jesus continues his claim to be the bread of life. There is an explicit connection between life and food and Jesus, as the source of eternal life – life as it is lived now, today and every day. Eucharist and life are clearly connected. The wisdom of Jesus is not an esoteric religious message, but one with a strong social meaning to heal and transform our world. But what does it mean to celebrate the Eucharist in a world in which so many are hungry? What does it mean to proclaim that Jesus the source of life when people are dying of hunger? What does it mean when so many people are deprived of decent health care or housing? Fr Pedro Arrupe SJ, former superior general of the Society of Jesus once said, ‘If there is hunger anywhere in the world, then our celebration of the Eucharist is incomplete everywhere in the world’. Feeding the hungry ones in our midst is integral to celebrating the Eucharist worthily.

Without softening his message and teaching Jesus tells in different ways who he is for us, the source of life for us, and what makes life for all. He is the bread of life and we are called to be the bread of life for one another. Jesus awakens hearts every day, setting people free from fear and despair, and raising them in hope, dignity, confidence and joy, in every culture in the world. He is in the midst of us and we fulfil our calling by loving, forgiving, community building, peacemaking, receiving children and giving priority to all people who are vulnerable, being nonviolent, being ready to enter into conversation that embraces the common of humanity of each of us, putting ourselves in the shoes of another, having a heart that is magnanimous and open and respectful of all life. As Jesus pleads with his listeners, he pleads with us to hear him out – that it is necessary to change. When the crowd is bothered and confused by Jesus' claim to give his flesh, he makes an even more offensive statement: they will need to eat his flesh and drink his blood (v. 53). ‘What could sound more foolish? Not a good way to get people to accept you!! The vocabulary of the text only heightens the scandal. There are good reasons for treating the theme of eating throughout this text as a metaphor for belief in Jesus. It is eating as though life depends on it, because it does – not only our lives but the lives of others.

John is pointing to a God who overcomes evil and barriers, not through dominating it but through persistent persuasion - all of which is embodied in a new way in Jesus’ death and resurrection. There is nothing triumphalist in this message. To make it so is to turn subversive wisdom into trite competition.

Wisdom has spread her table and calls the fools in. Jesus says that those who eat his flesh and drink his blood will have eternal life; they will abide in him. As we abide in him we might have more and more of that wisdom or ‘mysticism’ that is not so much about knowledge but a knowing that comes from seeing more. Indeed a ‘mysticism with open eyes’ [after Johann Baptist Metz] with a deep sensitivity to suffering, and not the mysticism of closed eyes that shields, hides and covers up human reality. Abiding in Christ, eating his flesh and drinking his blood, begins a process of revitalising our imaginations. That is no small thing. There is a very close identification between us and him. This is what the incarnation - God coming in human flesh - is all about. Wisdom, and eating the flesh and drinking the blood of Christ, can enable us to know and see deeply the interconnectedness of a creation brought to birth by a loving Creator. God breaks down the barrier and overcomes the distance between God and humanity. No longer is there a ‘them-and-us’ thing between us and God. There can no longer be a ‘them-and-us’ thing between people. It reminds us and strengthens us in our striving as well as our heartlessness. It opens us to the brokenness within creation, to the foolishness of war, the disregard for the earth, the starving baby, the homeless refugee, the remote people in the Pacific whose island nations are threatened by climate change. We are one. This act of solidarity has major implications for the way we view one another. In the incarnation, God does not become one with people from the developed world, or with Christians, or with men, or with straight people or any exclusive group. God becomes one with flesh and blood - with all humanity. And so if we start treating any group as enemies, as undesirable ‘others’, then we are breaching a solidarity that Christ has established in his incarnation in flesh and blood, then our celebration ‘of the Eucharist is incomplete everywhere in the world’. We recently commemorated the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. Sr. Joan Chittister (in There is a Season), a prophetic woman who will not allow us to have a mysticism of closed eyes in our church or world reminds us that:

‘War is a depredation of the human spirit that is sold as the loftiest of livelihoods. To hide the rape and pillage, the degradation and disaster, the training of human beings to become animals in ways we would allow no animals to be, we have concocted a language of mystification.

‘We refer to casualties now in terms of ‘collateral damage,’ the number of millions of civilians we are prepared to lose in nuclear war and still call ourselves winners. We call the deadliest weapons in the history of humankind, the most benign of names: Little Boy, Bambi, Peacemakers. The nuclear submarine used to launch Cruise missiles that can target and destroy 250 first-class cities at one time, for instance, we name ‘Corpus Christi,’ Body of Christ, a blasphemy used to describe the weapon that will break the Body of Christ beyond repair.

 

‘We take smooth-faced young men out of their mother’s kitchens to teach them how to march blindly into death, how to destroy what they do not know, how to hate what they have not seen. We make victims of the victors themselves. We call the psychological maiming, the physical squandering, the spiritual distortion of the nation’s most vulnerable defenders ‘defense.’ We turn their parents and sweethearts and children into the aged, the widowed, and the orphaned before their time. ‘We make a wasteland and call it peace,’ the Roman poet Seneca wrote with miserable insight.’

As the body of Christ breaks may we allow God to break through our blurry eyes, open our hearts and minds and undo the stiffness that tolerates the evil we do or allow, open us to what we think we are unable to bear. May we work together to celebrate the gifts of life and community. May we work together to promote policies that ensure that all people have access to the abundant life Jesus promised. We need courageous and bold people who will commit to the wisdom of justice, peace, compassion, sustainability, and sharing through the long term; people strong enough to stay the course and do what is necessary to bring about needed systemic and structural changes.  This means leaving aside our own personal agendas and send our political and religious leaders strong signals of our concern and that we will not accept short-term gains over long-term wisdom; that we will not support partisan point-scoring over the common good; and that we will not be part of ideologies that favour some over all – a socialism for the rich and capitalism for the poor. The Mass is ended. Let is begin the service!

20th