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We respectfully acknowledge the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation, as the traditional caretakers of the land which is the Richmond Catholic Parish.

We acknowledge the Elders, past and present.

May we, too, be good stewards of this land.

Give to God the things that are God’s PDF Print E-mail

19 October 2014: Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time - World Mission Sunday

Give to Caesar the things that belong to Caesar and to God the things that are God’s

The question that Jesus’ enemies put to him about paying tax was deadly. It was an attempt to wedge Jesus. Palestine was occupied by the Romans who made all the important decisions. The Jewish people resented Roman rule and believed that God was their real ruler, not the Emperor. So they saw paying taxes as an affront both to their nation and to their God. If Jesus agreed with paying taxes he was finished with his own people.

Give to God the things that are God’s

The Roman authorities in Palestine had the job of collecting taxes for the Emperor and of keeping the region pacified. So they were paranoid about people who resisted paying taxes and about religious figures who urged people not to pay them. A campaign against taxes could threaten civil disorder and ultimately their own authority. So if Jesus’ enemies dobbed him in to the Romans as a tax resister, they would probably arrest him.

Jesus’ response was to ask his questioners for a coin, and ask whose face was on it. They said it was the Emperor’s. Jesus’ conclusion was that tax belonged to Caesar, but God should also be given what belonged to God. He did not answer their question directly but left them with a deeper question, ‘What belonged to God?’ If they thought this question through they would have seen that human lives and people themselves belonged to God, not to the Emperor. Which suggested that the faces on coins, which represented people, also belonged to God.

Much of Christian history has been concerned with defending what belongs to God in the face of State takeover. States often try to take possession of people, to treat them as things, and not to respect their dignity as people who are deeply loved by God. Many Catholics have resisted this tyranny, for example, by refusing to fight in a war they believed to be unjust or by criticising the Australian treatment of people who seek protection.

The work of Jesuit Social Services has been to attend to the faces that belong to God, and especially poor and scorned people whose faces will never appear on coins. Jesuit Social Services works especially with disadvantaged young people whose background and mental health issues make them vulnerable. They are often treated as expendable by governments at times of financial pressure. They can be dismissed as dolebludgers, addicts, losers and as a risk to the community. At these times they need people who will accompany them and will advocate for them and their needs.

The Gospel invites us to ask ourselves how we care for those who belong to God, especially those who bear the image of the king – of Christ suffering.

Fr Andrew Hamilton SJ | Image from Hermano Leon Clipart

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Good or bad, we are all welcome PDF Print E-mail

12 October 2014: Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Respect Life Sunday

Whomsoever you find invite to the wedding

“A banquet... is an outstanding moment of fellowship. In the traditions of Israel, familiar to Matthew’s community, the blessings promised by God to those who have been faithful were likened to sharing in a banquet at the Lord’s table – as we hear in the reading from Isaiah in today’s liturgy.

As they heard this reading, and rejoiced in its fulfilment in Christ, this community would have given thanks for the universality of God’s generous designs: ‘all peoples and nations’ will share in God’s blessings ‘everywhere on earth’, the prophet declares. Already, they knew, the faith was beginning to spread. Long familiar with the biblical themes, they would have seen the prophet’s associating of the messianic blessings with, ‘this mountain’ as a reference to the old temple. But if, as is likely, the old temple had already been destroyed by the Romans (AD 70) when Matthew’s gospel was written, they would have been reminded that the shared life of Old Testament faith was only a foreshadowing of the eternal realities brought by Christ.

Matthew’s account includes the note of urgency characteristic of the outlook of the first Christians – three times, the king declares that all is ‘ready’. The final age has come, all must be ready to respond to the Lord’s call. And so, along the same lines, Matthew concludes his presentation by adding the short parable about ‘the man without a wedding garment’ – that would originally have been quite independent of the original story. Again the lesson is clear: although, in the present age, Matthew’s Church receives ‘the good and bad alike’ to rejoice at the wedding feast of the Lamb, let them know that their presence must be more than nominal adherence – they must be converted and live a life worthy of their calling.”

Fr John Thornhill SM | Image from pixabay.com

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Last Updated on Friday, 10 October 2014 18:40
Finding connections PDF Print E-mail

05 October 2014: Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Do these things and the God of peace will be with you

MENTAL HEALTH WEEK 5-12 October 2014

Much of the suffering of people with mental illnesses and of their relatives and friends comes from the way it disconnects. People with mental illness often feel alone and isolated. They cannot move easily out of their narrow world to engage with other people and the public world. So they withdraw into their own world of pain and separation.

Person sitting on a bench

Isolation makes it hard for many young people with mental illness to take the initiative in seeking help or even in continuing with treatment they have started. If they are required to make appointments to come to a large office where they know no one, they will often not seek help. They need people to accompany them if they are to take what, for them, are huge steps to move away from addiction and to find the help they need to deal with their illness. Like all of us they flourish when their unique human dignity is affirmed and respected. In their case this affirmation depends largely on the quality of the relationship we can build with them.

The Jesuit Social Services Connexions program was built around the relationships that outreach workers built up with vulnerable young people. Now it has lost significant funding. That is also a loss for young people. Marisa, one of the young people in the program, left school at 13, smoked cannabis and developed schizophrenia. She said of her outreach worker who left the program because of the loss of funding, ‘It makes me sad because I really did like Loretta. I got used to her’. When asked what the program meant to her, Marisa says, ‘Well I've quit cannabis and I didn't see a way out of that. And I've gone back to see my grandparents. Yeah I've come back to school which I haven't done in a while. And I'm enjoying my life a lot more now’.

This is huge growth. It usually happens only when young people find companions to walk with them in their chaotic lives, build trust with them, and to introduce them at the right time to people who can help them. An important way through mental illness is finding connections.

Fr Andrew Hamilton SJ | Image from pixabay.com

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Last Updated on Friday, 10 October 2014 18:50
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