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, 16 October 2018 22:06
LITURGY NOTES FOR THE TWENTY NINTH SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME, 2018
29th Sunday of the Year
October 21st, 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,
and the great loss of life from all kinds of violence and disease,
and that the land was never given away.
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.
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.
People try nonviolence for a week, and when it 'doesn't work' they go back to violence, which hasn't worked for centuries.
If protest depended on success, there would be little protest of any durability or significance. History simply affords too little evidence that anyone's individual protest is of any use. Protest that endures, i think, is moved by a hope far more modest than that of public success: namely, the hope of preserving qualities in one's own heart and spirit that would be destroyed by acquiescence.
Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.
First Reading: Isaiah 53:10-11
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 33:4-5, 18-19, 20, 22
- (22) Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.
Second Reading: Hebrews 4:14-16
Gospel Reading: Mark 10:35-45 (or 10:42-45)
- You have come amongst us as one who sympathises with our weakness. Jesus, have mercy.
- You have come amongst not to be served but to serve. Christ, have mercy.
- You assure us that the great in your reign serve one another. Jesus, have mercy.
- Christ Jesus, you came to give your life for us: Jesus, have mercy.
- Christ Jesus, you are the servant leader: Christ, have mercy.
- Christ Jesus, you call us to be like you: Jesus, have mercy.
Servant God, [or: Good and gracious God]
you search the depths of our heart
and direct us in ways to give you undivided service.
Grant us your people
the boldness to desire a place in your realm by our service,
the courage to drink the cup of suffering,
and the grace to find in service the joy you promise.
Prayer of the Faithful
Introduction: As we pray for the world, the church and for ourselves, we ask God who serves us that we may be inspired to serve others. The response to each prayer is: Servant God, hear our prayer.
- For the church: may the inspiration and witness of St Oscar Romero and St Paul VI cause it to look out to the world; look at it with love and tenderness and respond to the needs of our sisters and brothers with courage: We pray: Servant God, hear our prayer.
- For all people enslaved in mines and factories; bonded labour; for your people forced to become soldiers, children and adults exploited in the sex industry and used as commodities; and those forced to work for low wages, may they find liberation from their situations and have their dignity acknowledged and restored. We pray: Servant God, hear our prayer
- For us who are consumers, that we may be aware of what we support through our daily words, actions and purchases; and respect the dignity of our sisters and brother. We pray: Servant God, hear our prayer.
- For all church leaders, that in their service to the church and the world they hear the words of Jesus ‘do not be afraid’ and strive with courage and integrity to work for interfaith relations and consistently call for peace among peoples and between them. We pray: Servant God, hear our prayer.
- For our brothers and sisters throughout Asia and the Pacific, especially in the Indonesia, that continue to suffer the effects of earthquakes, typhoons and flooding and made worse by extractive industries: may all who have lost loved ones, homes and livelihoods find relief and healing through the love and kindness of others. We pray: Servant God, hear our prayer.
- For our country: may we look with confidence in a spirit of cooperation as we confront the difficult issues of our time – for peace with justice, for economic recovery, environmental responsibility, access for all to health care, adequate shelter and education. We pray: Servant God, hear our prayer.
- For our political and religious leaders: that they may deal with each other and with all people in their care with respect and seek to work together collaboratively rather than by domination. We pray: Servant God, hear our prayer
- For the United Nations in its work for international peace, development and education: may leaders of nations respect international law and vigorously renew their moral and financial support for the UN. We pray: Servant God, hear our prayer.
- For all refugees who have died in their search for freedom from persecution and torture: we pray that Australia will adopt more flexible and humane policies towards people who seek asylum in this country. We pray: Servant God, hear our prayer.
- For the many people who serve us in our daily lives and who we take for granted: we pray especially for those in the medical profession, nurses, teachers and the hospitality industry. We pray: Servant God, hear our prayer.
- For ourselves: that we may have the capacity to take risks to speak the truth and act justly without being paralysed by fear when confronted by the unjust demands of those in authority. We pray: Servant God, hear our prayer.
Concluding Prayer: God of freedom, we pray that we may be continually converted to the Gospel and freed from the urge to seek power and position and profit at the expense of others.
Prayer over the Gifts
Servant God, [or: Good and gracious God]
Jesus serves us at table
in the signs of bread and wine.
May the love of Jesus help us
to understand that the great are those who serve
and commit themselves to give life to others.
Deliver us, O God who serves, from every evil,
keep us from the urge
to seek positions of honour or power
at the expense of others.
Help us to pay with our service
the cost of peace and love,
as we wait in joyful hope
for the coming among us
of our Savior, Jesus the Christ. R/ For the kingdom...
Prayer after Communion
Servant God, [or: Good and gracious God]
in this sacrament
you have made yourself known to us.
Help us to know that
whenever we walk in strange places,
we see your footprint;
whenever we meet with unknown faces,
we see your image;
and whenever we stumble into the unexpected joy of service,
we feel your heartbeat.
- May the blessing of God who creates and upholds, be with you. AMEN.
- May the blessing of God who redeems and endures, be with you. AMEN.
- May the blessing of God who inspires and leads us, be with you. AMEN.
October 21 World Mission Sunday
October 24 United Nations Day and beginning of Disarmament Week. This observance begins on the anniversary of the founding of the United Nations in 1945. All countries are invited to highlight the danger of the arms race, the effects of the sale of all arms, the need to cease the propagation of weapons and increase public awareness of the urgent task of disarmament.
October 26 Return of Uluru to the traditional owners, the Anangu people in 1985
‘It is not possible to remain indifferent before the knowledge that human beings are bought and sold like goods! I think of the adoption of children for the extraction of their organs, of women deceived and obliged to prostitute themselves, of workers exploited and denied rights or a voice, and so on. And this is human trafficking. It is precisely on this level that we need to make a good examination of conscience: how many times have we permitted a human being to be seen as an object, to be put on show in order to sell a product or to satisfy an immoral desire? The human person ought never to be sold or bought as if he or she were a commodity. Whoever uses human persons in this way and exploits them, even if indirectly, becomes an accomplice of injustice.’
Pope Francis, March 5, 2014
May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers,
half-truths, superficial relationships,
so that you will live deep within your heart.
May God bless you with anger at injustice,
oppression, and exploitation of people,
so that you will work for justice, equity, and peace.
May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain,
rejection, starvation, and war,
so that you will reach out your hands to comfort them
and change their pain to joy.
And God bless you with the foolishness to think
that you can make a difference in the world,
so that you will do the things which others tell you cannot be done.
Only bad things happen quickly…….virtually all the happiness-producing processes in our lives take time, usually a long time: learning new things, changing old behaviors, building satisfying relationships, raising children. This is why patience and determination are among life’s primary virtues.
The two hardest tests on the spiritual road are the patience to wait for the right moment and the courage not to be disappointed with what we encounter.
Without patience, we will learn less in life. We will see less. We will feel less. We will hear less. Ironically, rush and more usually mean less.
Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves… live everything. Live the question now. Perhaps then, some day far in the future, you will gradually without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.
Rainer Maria Rilke
We are vulnerable on all sides, in and out, up and down, past, present, and future. We fear vulnerability. It takes a great deal of living to discover that, actually, vulnerability comes to us more as friend than as enemy. Vulnerability may be the greatest strength we have. Vulnerability bonds us to one another and makes us a community in league with life. Because we need one another, we live looking for good in others, without which we ourselves can not survive, will not grow, can not become what we ourselves have the potential to be. [Change in our lives and in our communities cannot happen without this]. Vulnerability is the gift given to us to enable us to embed ourselves in the universe. We are born dependent and spend the rest of our lives coming to wholeness. It is a delicate and dangerous process, requiring and untold amount of support and an amazing degree of forgiveness as we stumble and grope our way from one new part of life to another. Vulnerability, in fact, is the one hallmark of life which, try as we might, we can not cure. Vulnerability, therefore is clearly part of the spiritual process, clearly part of the human endeavor.
Joan D. Chittister from Heart of Flesh
The healing of our present woundedness may lie in recognizing and reclaiming the capacity we have to heal each other, the enormous power in the simplest of human relationships: the strength of a touch, the blessing of forgiveness, the grace of someone else taking you just as you are and finding in you an unsuspected goodness. Everyone alive has suffered. It is the wisdom gained from our wounds and from our own experiences of suffering that makes us able to heal. Becoming expert has turned out to be less important than remembering and trusting the wholeness in myself and everyone else. Expertise cures, but wounded people can best be healed by other wounded people. Only other wounded people can understand what is needed, for the healing of suffering is compassion, not expertise.
Rachel Naomi Remen
Even here, in the silence of this room, I am not alone. This silence is alive with the unfolding of other lives and with the turning and movement of the Earth. I began to sense my connection to the world’s pain and my part in healing it. I realized that my transformation of pain into love was an act of service for humankind. By embracing my existence, I could bring courage to others to face their own pain and to acknowledge what it had to teach them.
Yael Betheim from The Unhealed Life
What do we want the church to do? We ask for its presence with us, beside us, as Christ among us. We ask the church to sacrifice with the people for social change, for justice and for love of brother and sister. We don't ask for words. We ask for deeds. We don't ask for paternalism. We ask for servanthood.
There is one thing stronger than all the armies in the world; and that is an idea whose time has come.
When we are really honest with ourselves we must admit that our lives are all that really belong to us. So it is how we use our lives that determines what kind of [people] we are. It is my deepest belief that only by giving our lives do we find life. I am convinced that the truest act of courage is to sacrifice ourselves for others in totally nonviolent struggle for justice. To be [human] is to suffer for others. God help us!’
The more clearly we can focus our attention on
the wonders and realities of the universe about us,
the less taste we shall have for destruction.
A Jewish Blessing
O God, you have called us to peace,
For You are Peace itself.
May we have the vision to see that each of us,
in some measure, can help to realize these aims:
Where there are ignorance and suspicion,
Let there be enlightenment and knowledge.
Where there are prejudice and hatred,
Let there be acceptance and love.
Where there are fear and suspicion,
Let there be confidence and trust.
Where there are tyranny and oppression,
Let there be freedom and justice.
Where there are poverty and disease,
Let there be prosperity and health.
Where there are strife and discord,
Let there be harmony and peace.
Indian Proverb on Courage
Do not be afraid of standing up for what you believe;
what you do, no matter how small, will make a difference.
A candle is a protest at midnight.
It is a non-conformist.
It says to the darkness,
‘I beg to differ’.
Human rights in the sense of human solidarity has created a new universal and equal language going beyond racial, gender, ethnic or religious boundaries. That is why we consider it a doorway to dialogue for people of all socioeconomic groups and all ideologies.
Munir Said Thalib, Indonesian human rights activists murdered September 6, 2004, on board a Garuda flight bound from Jakarta to Amsterdam.
The Indians, Columbus reported, ‘are so naive and so free with their possessions that no one who has not witnessed them would believe it. When you ask for something they have, they never say no. To the contrary, they offer to share with anyone....’
From his base on Haiti, Columbus sent expedition after expedition into the interior. They found no gold fields, but had to fill up the ships returning to Spain with some kind of dividend. In the year 1495, they went on a great slave raid, rounded up fifteen hundred Arawak men, women, and children, put them in pens guarded by Spaniards and dogs, then picked the five hundred best specimens to load onto ships. Of those five hundred, two hundred died en route. The rest arrived alive in Spain and were put up for sale by the archdeacon of the town, who reported that, although the slaves were ‘naked as the day they were born,’ they showed ‘no more embarrassment than animals.’ Columbus later wrote: ‘Let us in the name of the Holy Trinity go on sending all the slaves that can be sold.’
Howard Zinn, excerpt from A People's History of the United States
Christopher Columbus is a symbol, not of a man, but of imperialism. ... Imperialism and colonialism are not something that happened decades ago or generations ago, but they are still happening now with the exploitation of people. ... The kind of thing that took place long ago in which people were dispossessed from their land and forced out of subsistence economies and into market economies -- those processes are still happening today.
John Mohawk, Seneca, 1992
When shall it be said in any country of the world, my poor are happy, neither ignorance or distress is to be found among them; my jails are empty of prisoners, my streets of beggars; the aged are not in want, the taxes not oppressive; the rational world is my friend because I am friend of its happiness. When these things can be said, then may that country boast of its constitution and government.
The vested interests - if we explain the situation by their influence - can only get the public to act as they wish by manipulating public opinion, by playing either upon the public's indifference, confusions, prejudices, pugnacities or fears. And the only way in which the power of the interests can be undermined and their maneuvers defeated is by bringing home to the public the danger of its indifference, the absurdity of its prejudices, or the hollowness of its fears; by showing that it is indifferent to danger where real danger exists; frightened by dangers which are nonexistent.
Sir Norman Angell 1872 – 1967
Iniquity, committed in this world, produces not fruit immediately, but, like the earth, in due season, and advancing by little and little, it eradicates the man who committed it. ...justice, being destroyed, will destroy; being preserved, will preserve; it must never therefore be violated.
Manu 1200 bc.
Beat me with the truth, don't torture me with lies.
Author - Unknown
Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
I will be harsh as truth, and as uncompromising as justice. On this subject i do not wish to think, or speak, or write, with moderation. No! no! Tell a man whose house is on fire to give a moderate alarm; tell him to moderately rescue his wife from the hands of the ravisher; tell the mother to gradually extricate her babe from the fire into which it has fallen; but urge me not to use moderation in a cause like the present.
William Lloyd Garrison (1805 - 1879)
Most of the greatest evils that man has inflicted upon man have come through people feeling quite certain about something which, in fact, was false.
Dogma demands authority, rather than intelligent thought, as the source of opinion;
it requires persecution of heretics and hostility to unbelievers;
it asks of its disciples that they should inhibit natural kindliness in favour of systematic hatred.
Bertrand Russell, Unpopular essays
I think that we should be men first, and subjects afterward. It is not so desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right.
Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience, 1849
If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu
The Foolishness of God
Christian preaching and testimony is rooted in the apparent absurdity, the foolishness of God, the foolishness of the cross. This preaching is not a controlled rational account of moral norms or theological propositions so much as a dangerous attempt to convey something of an experience of power and liberating grace flowing out of the heart of desolation and darkness. It is a proclamation, a lifting up, of the crucified Jesus as Saviour and conqueror. Its power is inseparable from its paradoxical character. It is a mistake to try to eliminate, reduce, or explain away the scandal and offensive character of the cross. In the same way there is a paradoxical character about committed Christians, a strange and attractive combination of calm and unpredictability, of stability and surprise. Christian life is never a routine of foregone conclusions but is always open to the strange and the unexpected. As the fool disrupts the monotony of life, so the grace of God is subversive and destabilising in its strange work. Martin Luther King once described Christian people as ‘creatively maladjusted’, transformed non-conformists. Our task as holy fools for Christ's sake, creatively maladjusted to the wisdom of the world, is to hold fast to the folly of the crucified one, knowing that it is in his foolishness that our wholeness lies.
Kenneth Leech in We Preach Christ Crucified, [Cambridge & Boston: Cowley, 1994.]
Reflections on the readings…
In recent weeks, Jesus has taken us on a journey towards Jerusalem whilst instructing his disciples about what it means to follow him. Today, we face the difficult changes necessary to be an authentic follower of Jesus. Jesus turns human assumptions about what really matters on its head; ‘greatness’ is measured in God’s reign by ‘service.’ This is the message he embodied. In the upside-down (or right-side up) Reign of God, greatness is defined very differently from the power, fame and fortune criteria that most human systems use. In God’s reign, ‘greatness’ is found in the role of a ‘servant.’ This was exemplified and embodied in Jesus: ‘For the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve….’ Which, finally will cause him to ‘give his life as a ransom for many.’
Despite the obsession with adversarial political discourse and the allure of fame and wealth, it is encouraging that we can still honour people, who give themselves in service of others, rather than leaders who use their power for self-aggrandisement, or corporate executives that amass huge fortunes, or celebrities who become addicted to their own fame and influence. It is the heroic men and women who bring the greatest healing to the world. The temptation to seek the bigger and better ministry, organisation, impact or influence can lead us to be arrogant, and to seek to manipulate or dominate others according to our own agendas. But, what we need desperately is a culture of ‘greatness’ that celebrates self-giving, humility, service and small acts of contribution to the greater good. The creation of this culture begins with us when we choose not to get caught up in the hype over the latest celebrity or movement, but to embrace and celebrate the humble, serving people around us.
In a world where power is important and is often abused, we are asked to do things differently, to have the heart of a servant, to be countercultural. Today, Jesus asks to give up unilateral power that takes no account of consequences for others, to refuse to dominate, to refuse to coerce any person, community or group of people. Pope Francis is being attacked on all sides for ‘proclaiming the good news of Jesus. These attacks are from the within the church, modern scribes and Pharisees who of many who are closest to him. A former English bishop (cf. The Tablet, October 13, 2018) said that many people have been encouraged Francis’ leadership. His constant emphasis on love and mercy and his encouragement to understand the importance of celebrating the grace in life before condemning failures and irregularities; to defer judgment in favour of encouragement or invitation. Last Sunday, Oscar Romero was canonised after being assassinated by people within the church for condemning their violence, abuse of power and accumulation of wealth. Church leaders did not always support his leadership exemplified by being a strong voice on behalf of the crucified peoples of his country. Pope Francis is also faces opposition mainly from within the church, because like Jesus he seems to be undermining their precious vision of the law and subverting the power over ordinary people. Jesus’ words to the disciples, ‘You know that those who are recognised as rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones make their authority over them felt’ still apply. Jesus has up-turned the value of power in favour of service, ‘But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all. For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.’ If the disciples had really listened to Jesus, they would have known that being close to him in his ‘glory’ meant to be close to him in his humiliation, suffering and death. Genuine leadership does not use coercion or power to make things happen, but serves and stands alongside people where they can grow and also become ‘servants’ of others.
It is by having the heart of a servant that enables us to be like the One (cf. Hebrews) who is touched by our infirmities, able to sympathise with our weaknesses and be not aloof from pain and suffering. This is not always possible from positions of power and privilege. William Sloane Coffin (d. 2006), a pastor of Riverside Church in New York in the late 1970s, encouraged his congregation to share his sympathies about the injustice of war and segregation. Having been active in the civil rights movement and in antiwar demonstrations, he was arrested a number of times because of his convictions. When his son was killed in a car accident, someone tried to comfort him with the cliché, ‘It is God’s will’. Coffin responded, ‘The hell it is! When my boy was killed, God was the first who cried’ (Peter Gomes, The Good Book, HarperCollins, San Francisco: 1996). One who exercises power cannot respond this way. When Mark was written, long after Jesus’ Resurrection, the community of disciples was changing and taking the shape of the Roman Empire: leaders had special designations, special titles, special garments, and power over people.
John and James failed to understand Jesus’ meaning. Mark explains again that Jesus’ passion and death come with the experience of being faithful to God’s word. In the Gospel of Thomas, Jesus declares, ‘Whoever is near me is near the fire, and whoever is far from me is far from the Reign of God.’ In 2006, Anna Politkovskaya, a well-known journalist and Kremlin critic and, was murdered in Moscow for exposing corruption, violence and oppression in Russia. This has been the fate of journalists in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Turkey when they expose corruption, injustice and violation of human rights. Oscar Romero continues to speak a prophetic word as his demands for justice continue to be echoed. He was the enemy of cover-up and ‘spin’ challenging the many ‘Nicodemus Christians’ today who are afraid to speak out publicly about the issues that affect human beings. In his context for many survival meant silence. Today, power and wealth also force people to be silent.
‘Whoever is near me is near the fire, and whoever is far from me is far from the Reign of God’. Jesus’ way requires us to be in solidarity with the afflicted, the wounded, the bruised and brutalised, the ones led astray, the oppressed - the prisoner, the asylum seeker, the homeless person, the struggling young person, the person living with mental illness. Last week I referred to a minister who said that the church should go to hell. He meant that the church should go to the hell holes of the world to be with people who are dying, suffering, perishing, oppressed. It cannot be done from positions of power and privilege. Solidarity requires that we rage against organisations or people that devalue people; that forget and neglect the humanity of others.
Jesus continually reverses the prevailing order. He has come and become one of us not to be served by to serve. He is affected, touched by our experiences and the experiences of others – especially the marginalised, the vulnerable, the suffering. For Romero, being a bishop meant picking up dead bodies. Poverty, hardship, disaster, pain and suffering are never God’s will, but that God is the first to weep when these occur – and hierarchy, domination and control are not part of his plan. Politicians (and kings and popes and bishops) may believe that their power is God-given – but the exercise of political and economic power is not his way, nor of those who follow him.
God’s sacred image in our sisters and brothers cries out for response. To choose to ignore the truth by closing our eyes or ears is to fail to appreciate the consequence of the ‘baptism’ Jesus asks of us. We have been given a power in the gospel: a power for life, life for others…. We must use it. We need to flesh out the tenets of our faith in acts for justice and human rights. We need to stand in solidarity at the places where violence is taking place around us. We can’t do everything, but we can do something.
The gospel today gives us hope. When beset with attitudes of competition; misuse of power, had an inordinate focus on possessions rather than people, or been deaf to Jesus’ teachings as were the disciples, we find forgiveness on offer. God’s Spirit continues to be given despite our failures, and surprisingly today, each day, we are again sent to the world, we are challenged to learn what real prominence in Jesus Reign is: service and self-giving. God has a dream for us ….it is a dream that we will all fall in love - in love with Jesus present in others and in creation - a love that will cause us to help create a world of hospitality and compassion. Let’s not forget how powerful the influence of an attentive parent or grandparent or teacher can be. Let’s not forget what a difference small act of kindness and service can make to our neighbourhoods and communities.
In the words of the prophet Micah: ‘And what does the Lord require of you? Only this: to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.’