Published: Thursday, 23 August 2018 11:50

21st Sunday of the Year

21st sunday 2

August 26th 2018

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.  

 

          

Photo: Angela Wylie

               

Christ of Maryknoll

by Robert Lentz

 

Readings:

First Reading: Joshua 24:1-2, 15-18;

Responsorial: Ps 34:2-3, 16-17, 18-19,20-21

Second Reading: Ephesians 5:21-32

Gospel: John 6: 60-69

 

Penitential Rite

 

Penitential Rite [Alternative]

 

Opening Prayer

Faithful God,

in our daily choices in ministry and service

you give us freedom and courage.

Strengthen us in our decisions

that we may always choose hope

over our experiences of pain, difficulty and failure.

Opening Prayer

Living God,

you sent Jesus to reveal your wisdom

and make known yours ways.

You give your people freedom.

Help us to seek the values

that will transform your world.

Prayers of the Faithful

Introduction: Let us pray to God who is the source of our freedom.  The response to each prayer is: God of life, hear us (or: Welcoming God, you are close to the broken hearted).

  1. We pray for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People of Australia: may they may always find respect for their culture and traditions and an effective response by government and business to their real needs, we pray: God of life, hear us (or: Welcoming God, you are close to the broken hearted).

 

  1. We pray for the people of Kerala and Lombok who face different natural disasters: may they find deep and effective support in the face of the tragedy they face as well as in their grief for their lost loved ones, we pray: God of life, hear us (or: Welcoming God, you are close to the broken hearted).

 

  1. We pray for all the people who are affected by the current drought : may they find encouragement in the support being offered be people far and wide and reassurance when they face anxiety for the future, we pray: God of life, hear us (or: Welcoming God, you are close to the broken hearted).
  1. We pray for all people who are affected by the slave trade around the world: may we remember that slavery and bondage of persons continues in our world various guises and we pray for all who work for the liberation of women, men and children are trafficked in any way, we pray: God of life, hear us (or: Welcoming God, you are close to the broken hearted).
  1. We pray for the people of this country: may they welcome the stranger, support those who have recently arrived and give comfort to those who feel keenly the lost of family and country, we pray: God of life, hear us (or: Welcoming God, you are close to the broken hearted).
  1. We pray for all people who are exiled from their homeland, families and friends: may they find a ready welcome from people in those they meet and be empowered by the hospitality offered them, we pray: God of life, hear us (or: Welcoming God, you are close to the broken hearted).
  1. We pray for our country: may we strive more and more to bear each other’s without shirking our responsibilities; and also call our leaders, and those who represent us, to justice, compassion and generosity, we pray: God of life, hear us (or: Welcoming God, you are close to the broken hearted).
  1. We pray for the Australian Government: that it may develop a more welcoming approach to people who come seeking protection from torture and political oppression, we pray: God of life, hear us (or: : Welcoming God, you are close to the broken hearted).
  1. We pray for all people in rich countries: may they be prepared to reach out to people in developing countries by just treaties and sharing our resources in ways that enable people in developing countries to live full and fruitful lives, we pray: God of life, hear us (or: Welcoming God, you are close to the broken hearted).
  1. We pray for the leaders of churches and other faiths: may they faithfully preserve the central message of love and peace in their faith so that peace may be effectively realised in our world, we pray: God of life, hear us (or: Welcoming God, you are close to the broken hearted).
  1. We pray for married people: may husbands and wives deepen their love for one another through equality in their relationship and through their commitment to their mutual obligations to the children they raise, we pray: God of life, hear us (or: Welcoming God, you are close to the broken hearted).
  1. We pray for our Pacific and Asian neighbours: may the diverse communities within them – especially Indonesia, the Philippines, and Papua New Guinea -continue to courageously seek peaceful ways to resolve their conflicts, we pray: God of life, hear us (or: Welcoming God, you protect the vulnerable in our society).
  1. We pray for all people who experience any kind of oppression – especially people who are impacted around the world by large scale mining that disrupts their communities, jeopardises their food security and undermine their tradition lifestyles, we pray: God of life, hear us (or: Welcoming God, you protect the vulnerable in our society).
  1. We pray for people who are ‘trapped’ in difficult or abusive relationships – we pray especially for women and children who are victims of all forms of domestic violence, we pray: God of life, hear us (or: Welcoming God, you protect the vulnerable in our society).
  1. We pray for people who are oppressed by racism and other forms of discrimination – we remember especially people who suffer because of their skin colour, ethnic background or sexual identity, we pray: God of life, hear us (or: Welcoming God, you protect the vulnerable in our society).
  1. We pray for those whose lives are endangered: for those who live in the path of war; those who live where there is no food or clean water; those with no access to medical care; those who lack the most vital necessities, we pray: God of life, hear us (or: Welcoming God, you are close to the broken hearted).
  1. We pray for the church especially those who minister to the poor and care for the sick: may the compassion of Jesus be in their heart, we pray: God of life, hear us (or: Welcoming God, you are close to the broken hearted).
  1. We pray for those who are sick especially those who struggle with learning disabilities, emotional illnesses and addictions: may they find strength and patience in those around them, we pray: God of life, hear us (or: Welcoming God, you are close to the broken hearted).

Concluding Prayer: Living God, in Jesus you have given us the Word that brings us a life of peace, love and justice. Grant us hearts and minds open to receiving your Word. Listen to our prayers and set us free

Calendar

August 26 Women’s Equality Day (USA)

August 29 International Against Nuclear Tests

August 30 International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances

Prayer over the Gifts

Faithful God,

in the death of Jesus, your Son,

we find our freedom.

In these signs of bread and wine

Jesus gives himself again to us

as our food and drink

to strengthen us to become

flesh and blood in our service of others.

 

Prayer over the Gifts

Living God,

the offering of Jesus

made us your people.

In your love,

grant us the grace to remain

faithful to your Holy One

whose words are spirit and life.

Parish Notices

August 26 433 asylum seekers rescued from a sinking vessel by the MV Tampa. The Australian government sent troops to prevent any of the asylum seekers from entering Australia {2001].

August 26 Women's Equality Day (The 95th anniversary of women getting the right to vote in the USA and the signing of the 19th Amendment in 1920)

August 27 Death of Dom Helder Camara, former Brazilian archbishop who promoted the cause of poor people [1999]

August 28: Dream Day Martin Luther King Jr. gave the 'I Have a Dream' speech in 1963

August 29 International Day Against Nuclear Testing

August 29 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina making landfall in Louisiana & Mississippi

August 30 People of East Timor vote in favour of independence in 1999.

 

Further Resources

Will You Also Go Away

The sun shone bright, the crowds were there,

the kingdom seemed quite near,

but Jesus did not preach to please

so some began to sneer.

He spoke of life that comes through death,

his blood and flesh abused.

He asked them to eat to their fill

but they were not amused.

‘We cannot stomach this,’ they said,

‘He’s mad or just a liar.’

In clots of discontent they left

to find some new messiah.

A cold wind blew across the sea

to the remnant on the shore.

‘Will you too go far away?’ he said?

‘The tide has turned for sure.’

Quick, as usual, Peter spoke

the first thing in his head:

‘Where else can we go, dear Lord,

Without you we are dead.’

From that day on the way was hard

and Judas became sour,

till Christ would all forsaken be

in his finest hour.

I find myself on that same shore

where crowds saw him in flesh.

Their footprints are long swept away

but I find his still fresh.

© B.D. Prewer 2000

When I feed the poor, they call me a saint, but when I ask why the poor are hungry, they call me a communist.

Dom Helder Camara

Men and women of our postmodern world run the risk of rampant individualism, and many problems of society are connected with today’s self-centred culture of instant gratification.

Pope Francis, Laudato Si, 162

The Catholic Church teaches that violence against another person in any form fails to treat that person as someone worthy of love. Instead, it treats the person as an object to be used. […] Beginning with Genesis, Scripture teaches that women and men are created in God's image. Jesus himself always respected the human dignity of women. Pope John Paul II reminds us that ‘Christ's way of acting, the Gospel of his words and deeds, is a consistent protest against whatever offends the dignity of women.’

U.S. Catholic Bishops

Violence puts the brakes on authentic development and impedes the evolution of peoples towards greater socio-economic and spiritual well-being. 

Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate, 29

Feminist liberation theology hopes so to change unjust structures and distorted symbol systems that a new community in church and society becomes possible, a liberating community of all women and men characterized by mutuality with each other and harmony with the earth.

Elizabeth Johnson CSJ, She Who Is, 31

[…] the Christ is not exclusively the glorified Jesus, but the glorified Jesus animating his body which is the Church.  Christ said to Paul ‘Why do you persecute me?’ (Acts 9:4) because the literal fact is that the Christ is composed of all the baptized.  This means that Christ, in contrast to Jesus, is not male, or more exactly exclusively male.  Christ is quite accurately portrayed as black, old, Gentle, female, Asian, Polish. Christ is inclusively all the baptized.

Sandra Schneiders Women and the Word

The Synod Fathers stated: ‘As an expression of her mission the Church must stand firmly against all forms of discrimination and abuse of women’(178). And again: ‘The dignity of women, gravely wounded in public esteem, must be restored through effective respect for the rights of the human person and by putting the teaching of the Church into practice.’

John Paul II, Christifideles Laici 49

Prayer for People Who Are Homeless

O God, as Naomi and Ruth journeyed from one land to another seeking a home, we ask your blessing upon all who are homeless in this world. You promised to your chosen people a land flowing with milk and honey; so inspire us to desire the accomplishment of your will that we may work for the settlement of those who are homeless in a place of peace, protection, and nurture, flowing with opportunity, blessing, and hope. Amen.

Vienna Cobb Anderson Adapted from Prayers of Our Hearts © 1991

When we are dreaming alone it is only a dream. When we are dreaming with others, it is the beginning of reality.

Dom Helder Camara

 

This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her. We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will. The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life. This is why the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor; she ‘groans in travail’ (Rom 8:22). We have forgotten that we ourselves are dust of the earth (cf. Gen 2:7); our very bodies are made up of her elements, we breathe her air and we receive life and refreshment from her waters.

Pope Francis, Laudato Si’ #2

In a Time of Violence

This prayer remembers those who are affected by violence and conflict, and asks for the courage to commit ourselves to the difficult work of building peace.

Education for Justice

In a time of violence,

We turn to you.

Lord of Sorrows,

Who is burdened

With the cries still echoing in Hiroshima,

With the broken bodies of women and girls in the Congo,

With the blood flowing in Syria.

In a time of violence

We gather to mourn and pray

For our communities,

Past and present,

Local and global.

In a time of violence

We commit ourselves

To the difficult work

Of peacemaking

So we may honor

The suffering and pain

Of our sisters and brothers.

O Lord of Sorrows,

Give us the courage

To speak the words

Of peace again and again

So they might flourish

In an arid land.

Divine power, then, is the silent cry of life in the midst of suffering.

Elizabeth Johnson, Quest for the Living God

Empathy is not simply a matter of trying to imagine what others are going through, but having the will to muster enough courage to do something about it.

Cornel West

What is the unmistakable mark of a wise man?  It is Love, Love for all humanity.

Sri Sathya Sai Baba

We bless you Father

for the thirst

you put in us,

for the boldness

you inspire,

for the fire

alight in us

that is you in us,

you the just.

Never mind

that our thirst

is mostly unquenched

(pity the satisfied).

Never mind

our bold plots

are mostly unclinched,

wanted not realized.

Who better than you

Knows that success

comes not from us.

You ask us to do

our utmost only,

but willingly.

Dom Helder Camara, from The Desert is Fertile.

Aspire not to have more, but to be more.

Archbishop Oscar Romero, assassinated Archbishop of San Salvador

Where is the truth, where is the light,

where is the way through this dark night?

Where is the word, where is the call,

where is the joy waiting for all?

Where is the goal, where is the gain,

where is the hope never in vain?

Where is the pearl, where is the yeast,

where is the one worthy high priest?

Where is the meek, where is the just,

where the wealth without moth or rust?

Where is the sower, where is the seed,

where is the creed incarnate in deed?

Where is the robe, where is the ring,

where is the feast fit for a king?

Where is the dance, where is the song,

where is the music where we belong?

Where is the peace, where is the grace,

where is the door into God’s space?

Look no further, seek no other,

Mary’s son is your first-born Brother.

Source Unknown

Friends are quiet angels who lift us to our feet

when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly.

Source Unknown

The God of life summons us to life; more, to be lifegivers, especially toward those who lie under the heel of the powers.

Daniel Berrigan, Jesuit priest, poet, and peace activist

It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world and moral courage so rare.

Mark Twain

It is the duty of every citizen according to his best capacities to give validity to his convictions in political affairs.

Albert Einstein

Every time anyone says that Israel is our only friend in the Middle East, I can't help but think that before Israel, we had no enemies in the Middle East.

John Sheehan, S.J., Jesuit priest

Some explanations of a crime are not explanations: they're part of the crime.

Olavo de Cavarlho

An error does not become truth by reason of multiplied propagation,

nor does truth become error because nobody sees it.

Mohandas Gandhi

In the democracy of the dead all [people] at last are equal. There is neither rank nor station nor prerogative in the republic of the grave.

John James Ingalls

Man is the only animal that deals in that atrocity of atrocities, War. He is the only one that gathers his brethren about him and goes forth in cold blood and calm pulse to exterminate his kind. He is the only animal that for sordid wages will march out... and help to slaughter strangers of his own species who have done him no harm and with whom he has no quarrel.... And in the intervals between campaigns he washes the blood off his hands and works for ‘the universal brotherhood of man’ - with his mouth.

Mark Twain

A thing is not necessarily true because a man dies for it.

Oscar Wilde

 

Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.

Aldous Huxley

 

Let the TRUTH be told, though the heavens fall.

Jim Garrison

Where is the justice of political power if it executes the murderer and jails the plunderer, and then itself marches upon neighboring lands, killing thousands and pillaging the very hills?

Kahlil Gibran, (1883-1931)

 

The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants, and it provides the further advantage of giving the servants of tyranny a good conscience

Albert Camus (1913-1960), French novelist, essayist, and playwright who received the 1957 Nobel Prize for Literature.

 

The means of defense against foreign danger historically have become the instruments of tyranny at home.

James Madison: US fourth president, 1751-1836

 

The death of democracy is not likely to be an assassination from ambush. It will be a slow extinction from apathy, indifference, and undernourishment.

Robert M. Hutchins

The Gospels give us a radical Jesus, but we have, down the centuries, made him a plastic one; and Jesus has given us as Gospel a tiger, but we have, down the centuries, made it a pussy cat.

A.T. Robinson, theologian

In today’s world, it is the poor who are bearing the brunt of climate change.  Tomorrow, it will be humanity as a whole that faces the risks that come with global warming. The rapid build-up of greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere is fundamentally changing the climate forecast for future generations.  We are edging toward ‘tipping points.’ These are unpredictable and non-linear events that could open the door to ecological catastrophes – accelerated collapse of the Earth’s great ice sheets being a case in point – that will transform patterns of human settlement and undermine the viability of national economies. Our generation may not live to see the consequences. But our children and their grandchildren will have no alternative but to live with them….catastrophic risk in the future provides a strong rational for urgent action.

UN Human Development Report, 2007/2008

We stand at a critical moment in Earth's history, a time when humanity must choose its future. As the world becomes increasingly interdependent and fragile, the future at once holds great peril and great promise. To move forward we must recognize that in the midst of a magnificent diversity of cultures and life forms we are one human family and one Earth community with a common destiny. We must join together to bring forth a sustainable global society founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice, and a culture of peace. Towards this end, it is imperative that we, the peoples of Earth, declare our responsibility to one another, to the greater community of life, and to future generations.

Preamble to The Earth Charter

 

…. good religion would celebrate life, not death….. humans weren't put here to die; we were put here to live. Religion is precious for offering consolations to the inbuilt sufferings of the human condition, the two main facts of which are mortality and the knowledge of mortality. Religion invented a language of ‘afterlife’ in which to define its hope that mortality, the end of the story, is not the whole story….The devaluing of the here and now in the name of the by-and-by is a mortal offense against the temporality that defines consciousness, but it also can lead to terrible impassivity in the face of injustice, an invitation to accept the given unacceptability instead of working to change it. The present is elusive, but humans were created as creatures of time for the sake of the present alone. What religion refers to as ‘beyond’ is often conceived as outside of time and space (the supernature beyond nature), but the beyond that matters is in the depth of present life. Time, therefore, is an invention. The past and the future are present realities because they are imagined constructs, aspects of consciousness but not its brackets. As memory is indulged for the sake of the present, not the past, thereby avoiding the dead end of nostalgia, so hope intends to strengthen the present, not flee to the fantasy of tomorrowland. Belief in God means to deepen present experience, without any particular regard for its consequences hereafter. Good religion, in other words, is not magic. It tells of the end of the story, yet also of the story's unboundedness. Good religion reckons with a natural order that may go on without an End Time, without humanity as its necessary pinnacle, with its only sure purpose as what humans bring to it. There is no other life, and religion is how one penetrates to the deepest level of that mystery, a level to which religion gives a name. The only life that lasts forever, that is, is the life of God. Humans, by virtue of God's creation as creatures with awareness, have been brought into that life, the eternal life that is only the present moment. To be fully alive is to be aware of being held now in what does not die, and in what does not drop what it holds. Religion calls that God. Second, good religion recognizes in God's Oneness a principle of unity among all God's creatures, a unity that is also known as love. Religion, in its essence, is about love, and every great religion

But skepticism is the revelation, and it is most valuable when applied to one's own cherished faith, measuring it against the standard of love that religion intends to uphold. To take a blatant example of what drives the rejection of religion, consider anti-female violence, on a continuum from intellectual assumptions of male supremacy to pornographic denigration to physical abuse to enslavement and murder. Misogynist sexism is a special symptom of religious disorder, and among the mainstream institutions, including Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, it is, to one or another degree, endemic. The opposite of male supremacy is not female supremacy, but equality. For many, there can be no God for whom such equality is not essential, which can lead many to conclude, from the evidence offered in the religions, that there is no God….. the rejection of religion that cozies up to injustice can amount, in biblical terms, to a repudiation of idolatry, for in regard to women, as to many others, the religions have betrayed themselves by accepting transient cultural forms, like patriarchy, as divinely mandated…Thus the single most compelling test facing the three monotheistic religions today is how they define the place of women. Given the breakthrough understandings that have illuminated global culture in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries—how women fare is how the culture fares—the religions will disqualify themselves as agents of God's presence or work unless females can claim therein positions of complete equality.

Good religion is not perfect religion, and knows it. Renewal of religious practice, doctrine, cult, creed, tradition, and worship must be ongoing. This radical commitment to purification is built into the tension between the sacred text and its forever unfolding interpretation, a process by which belief is measured against its real-world consequences. In other words, experience takes precedence over doctrine.30 Beliefs that lead to transgressions of the primal law of love must change. Religion that leads to violence must be reformed. Which is to say, every religion is forever in need of reformation.

James Carroll, Jerusalem, Jerusalem: How the Ancient City Ignited Our Modern World Kindle Edition.

 

God beyond our reckoning,

make your dwelling-place with us,

and move us beyond our own limited glimpses of your presence.

Dwell with us also in our struggles against all that oppresses us,

that we may not demonise others

but call them, with us, to grow beyond where we are. Amen.

OutinScripture

Reflections on the readings…….

God wants our decisions to be in relationship to be a completely free choice, not one born of guilt, obligation, or half-interest. Decisions need to be renewed.   ‘…… decide today whom you will serve …. ‘(Joshua 24:15). Serving God involves being in solidarity with God's chosen ones: the least among the people.  ‘Choose this day’ unequivocally and without delay. This is particularly difficult when we experience situations of cruel violence and the destruction of innocent life. We have to be convinced that solidarity in working to overcome poverty and injustice is possible. The choice is the God who has and continues to liberate and be a source of life in our lives. This recommitment to liberation is still necessary as we deal with many situations of injustice. Sr. Elizabeth Johnson, CSJ, in She Who Is, writes: ‘The fundamental sin is exploitation, whether it be expressed in the domination of male over female, white over black, rich over poor, strong over weak, armed military over unarmed civilians, human beings over nature. These analogously abusive patterns interlock because they reset on the same base: a structure where an elite insists on its superiority and claims the right to exercise dominative power over all others considered subordinate, for its own benefit.’ The God of Joshua and the God of Peter is a God of liberation from all such exploitation.

The temptation is to walk away. May our response to Jesus be Peter’s: ‘To whom can we go?’ But this is not also put to Jesus. It is put to us so many times in our daily lives as individuals, as communities, churches and as nation. It is the question put to us by the refugee, by the homeless person, by the person in need of aged care, the person who is unemployed as the one just out of prison, by the peoples of the Pacific nations as they face the rising waters of the oceans through climate change and global warming.

Joshua today calls the people to embrace the same power that stood by them and liberated them in their past. This God ‘has eyes for the just, and ears their cry’; who is ‘close to the broken hearted; and saves those who are crushed in spirit’ (Ps 34:15-18). Do we choose the old system and ways of doing things or do we choose God – the liberator.

Joshua showed the people the gods they could follow. These were/are the gods and images inherited from the past who continue to dominate, control, hang on to power and are blind to injustice. James Carroll (in Jerusalem, Jerusalem) says the rejection of a religion that cozies up to injustice can amount, in biblical terms, to a repudiation of idolatry, for in regard to women, as to many others, the religions have betrayed themselves by accepting transient cultural forms, like patriarchy, as divinely mandated. In terms of our relationships they are lame duck gods that support arrogant heterosexism, closeted racism, unashamed homophobia, rampant and recycled patriarchy and greedy corporatism. In the midst of this Joshua calls us to look to God who liberates us from various forms of slavery [guilt, fear, vengeance, etc.] and the one who preserves us and struggles with and for us. Like Jesus’ words today about his flesh and blood, this is hard teaching. A politics of fear is seeping into many aspects of our lives. People who speak against it can find themselves marginalised (refugee advocates, UN and international law experts, health professionals, psychologists, legal experts, church leaders. Reasoned debate was stifled when talking about people whose minds and bodies were abused and still are abused in order to send a message. We knowingly do harm to innocent people deserving of help – harm to their bodies and their psyches. The gospel still calls us to grow and be truly revolutionary. Ephesians calls for new covenants and arrangements in our relationships as well as between the sexes.

When many walked away, Jesus asks his own, ‘What about you? Are you leaving too?’  Peter answers ‘Where would we go? To whom would we go? You have for us the words of life. You have the liberation we came seeking. You have the nourishment we need for the revolutionary new world we are headed for.’ What about us? How often have we taken the Bread of life and it has made little difference in our response to injustices in the church and country; what difference did it make in our treatment of or silence about refugees; what difference did it make with regard to the abuses imposed on Indigenous people, or violence that we know about in our work places or neighbourhoods, what difference did it make to our action or silence on the vilifying language in Parliament or media against ethnic or social groups, or threats against our perceived enemies’ rather than try to understand them; what difference did it make when we avoided ridicule from those who might disagree with us? Who cares? Does our way of thinking and acting change at all?  Do we become more capable of recognising Jesus’ other presences among those who are dispossessed of life? 

To eat this Bread is to eat, to assimilate something of the spirit of the Beatitudes and the law of love.  It is to drink the life, the practices and words of Jesus. This is how we are nourished by God’s life to continue the work of building God’s reign of peace and justice.

This is not a meal taken in solitude but to be shared in fellowship. The same Jesus who says, ‘I am the Bread of Life,’ and says ‘I was hungry and you fed me.’ (Mt 25,35).

So, all three readings today speak of the necessity to live up to obligations. Let us remember today the vulnerable, threatened, tortured people who come to us hungry for life, for freedom, for security, for peace. There are times when we think it is just too much trouble, or too dangerous, or perhaps just not worth the effort, to do what society calls us to do. Jesus experienced the same thing in today's Gospel. He was beginning to attract followers. And as one might guess, some were more dedicated than others. Some said, ‘This is a hard teaching,’ and turned back and no longer followed him. What do we say? The disciple of Jesus has to respond to the question: ‘Where shall we go to?’

We can often approach God incorrectly. We look for God in all the wrong places, and amongst the wrong people. The gospels point to the ones where God in the person of Jesus is to be found.  Jesus embraced the human condition instead of running away from it. His humanity expressed his divinity. It did not contradict it. We are meant to find God here in our lives so that we can experience God in the thick of it. We experience God: in the deepest recesses of our humanity. If we take seriously the call to remain faithful to Jesus, we cannot avoid ‘eating his flesh and drinking his blood’ – taking the life, the values, the mission, the purposes, the attitudes, and his priorities into our hearts. We never have an excuse to stop loving, and we cannot justify putting others down or condemning them. May we look beyond individuals and persons when resisting injustice to the institutions, systems and ideologies that oppose God’s Reign. We need this Jesus perspective if we are to work together for the good of all. In the gospel today, Jesus asserts that he is God’s love ‘in the flesh.’ May we too be God’s love in the flesh.

221st sunday