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Being prepared PDF Print E-mail

Sunday 10 December 2017: Second Sunday of Advent

John the Baptist baptises JesusMake straight the paths of the Lord

In today’s Gospel we hear John the Baptist contrast his baptism of repentance with the baptism that Jesus will inaugurate. John says that he has baptized with water, but that the one who is to come will baptize with the Holy Spirit. John’s baptism was not yet a Christian baptism, but a preparation for the Sacrament of Baptism through which sins are forgiven and the gift of the Holy Spirit is received.

John the Baptist is presented to us as a model during Advent. We, too, are called upon to prepare a way for the Lord. Like John the Baptist, we are messengers in service to one who is greater than we are. Our Baptism commissions us to call others to life as disciples of Jesus.

Read more at Sunday Connection, Loyola Press, A Jesuit Ministry

10 December: Human Rights Day

The survey on same sex marriage brought human rights into public conversation. People variously emphasised the right of people to be free from discrimination in marrying and the rights of religious believers to follow their conscience in deciding how to be involved in marriages. There has also been less publicised controversy about the treatment of children who have committed offenses. Some have emphasised the rights of children to freedom of movement and to support in family and community, while others stressed the right of citizens to security.

The challenge is to balance these rights with one another. In the heat of conflict over rights it is tempting to see rights as a list of separate rights that are unconditional. You have them fully or not at all. So you must defend your rights tooth and nail against people who wish to limit them on the grounds that you are contravening their rights.

From this perspective the claim to rights always involved conflict with other people’s rights. The conflict must be resolved by the assertion of power, either the power of government or the power of the majority. The result is that you do not have a right until someone concedes it to you.

It is better to see human rights as expressions of what it means for us to flourish as human beings. Like health, flourishing has many dimensions, each related to others. We do not flourish unless we have sufficient food, sleep, shelter, access to medical care, education and work, the freedom to associate with others, to marry and form a family, to publicly state our political and religious opinions, to freedom of expression and to associate in groups of like-minded people. This is not a complete listing of the things on which our flourishing as human beings depends. They go together: without food we cannot work or study, for example. These dimensions of our flourishing are our human rights.

We cannot flourish as human beings by ourselves. We do so through relationships to other people and to our world. It follows that our rights too must take into account our relationships. They express the respect that we owe to one another in our relationships. So we need constantly to negotiate our rights with one another. Most of us learn to do this in the give and take of family life

Because our rights name what we need to flourish as human beings they cannot be given or taken away by government action or majority opinion. They are ours because we are human beings who depend on one another. Nor are they competitive. To enjoy our rights we need to cooperate with one another. Our rights do not disappear, either, when we cannot enjoy them. Children have a right to an education and an environment that supports their growth even where they are deprived of it.

Where different rights come into conflict, as in justice for child offenders, the rights of society and of children must be maintained. Too often the response to crime is to take away the rights of children. In our work with vulnerable young people at Jesuit Social Services we have seen a trend towards locking child offenders up. The inevitable social consequence is that the longer term security of society is threatened. The tragedy is that children are deprived of the opportunity to develop into happy adults. Human rights matter.

Fr Andrew Hamilton SJ

Fr Nguyen Viet Huy sjSunday 17 December: Ordination Annniversary

Our Parish Priest, Fr Huy, is celebrating the 25th Anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood.

To mark this special occasion, parishioners are invited to join Fr Huy for morning tea after the 9:30am Mass.

Please bring a plate to share.

Be watchful, be alert! PDF Print E-mail

Be watchful, be alert.  Image courtesy of pixabay.com

Sunday 03 December 2017: First Sunday of Advent

Stay awake! You never know when the Lord will come

...Mark’s audience consisted of Christians who were living in difficult social and political times, times of conflict. They were likely beginning to face persecution as followers of Jesus. In this difficult time, it helped to recall that Jesus had foretold of such difficulties. Early Christian communities took courage from Jesus’ warning to remain alert and watchful, and they found in his words a way to persevere through suffering.

Today’s Gospel reminds us that Advent is about more than our preparation for the Church’s celebration of Christ’s birth at Christmas. Advent is also about preparing ourselves for Christ’s return in glory at the end of time. Like the disciples and the faithful in Mark’s community, we must also stay alert and watchful. Our faithfulness to God, through the good times as well as the difficult times, shows us to be ready for the coming of the Son of Man.

Read more at Sunday Connection, Loyola Press, A Jesuit Ministry

Identifying with the least ones PDF Print E-mail

Sunday 26 November 2017: Our Lord Jesus Christ King of the Universe

He will take his seat on his throne of glory, and he will separate men one from another

Caring for the least onesRecall that last week’s parable of the talents taught us that the gifts that we have been given are intended to be used for the service of others, especially the least among us. Our judgment before God will be based not only on how we have used these gifts and talents, but also on how we have extended ourselves in service to these least ones. Indeed, Jesus tells us that whenever we have served these least ones, we have served Christ himself.

When we read today’s Gospel in the context of the chapters that follow in Matthew’s Gospel, we learn the extent to which Jesus identifies with the least ones. In accepting death on the cross, Jesus shows himself to be one of the hungry, the naked, the ill, and the imprisoned. To accept Jesus is to accept him who suffered and died on the Cross as one of the least ones.

Read more at Sunday Connection, Loyola Press, A Jesuit Ministry

Talents and responsibilities PDF Print E-mail

Sunday 19 November 2017: Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Using your talents wiselyThe day of the Lord is going to come like a thief in the night

The parable of Jesus points to the ‘Day of the Lord’ when God’s people will be called to account for the responsibilities brought by the great blessings they have received. In today’s reading from Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians, Paul continues his instruction concerning the Lord’s return, echoing the imagery used by Jesus in the gospels. Life must go on; it is not given to us to know the ‘times and seasons’ of the final reckoning; the ‘Day of the Lord’ will come ‘like a thief in the night’; God’s people must ‘stay awake and sober’, living as ‘children of the light’. It is not difficult to see that these themes provide the background of today’s parable. The master is a long time in coming, and arrives unexpectedly to ‘go through the servants’ accounts’. The servants who have administered well the wealth entrusted to them are to be entrusted with ‘greater things’; they will share in ‘their master’s happiness’ – a clear reference, for those who have ears to hear, of the blessings of the final Kingdom.

If we appreciate the greatness of the blessings brought by faith in Christ, we will be aware of the responsibilities they bring.

Extract by John Thornhill sm - read more at The Emmaus Series | Image courtesy of Andrey Mironov (Own work); resized; [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women – 25 November 2017

Some people have asked why there is a special day dedicated to the elimination of violence against women. Is not all violence equally reprehensible, whether directed against men or women? The answer, of course, is that all violence is equally to be deplored and eliminated. But the fact is that most people who experience domestic violence are women, and they are generally most helpless in the face of it.

Whether in war or at home women bear the brunt of unprovoked violence. In addition, because in most societies women are primarily responsible for caring for children, the violence women suffer has a particularly destructive effect on the development of children into responsible and self-reliant adults. Violence against women is a crime against the whole of society.

It is important that we keep before our eyes the pain, shame and physical harm caused by violence, and that we acknowledge it can never be justified by custom or by extenuating circumstances. The extent and seriousness of violence against women has long been masked by neglect, by blinding ourselves to bruises of body and spirit that are clear to see, and by assuming that each man’s home is his castle with its own justice system, violent or not, which must not be interfered with. The opinion that what happens in the family stays in the family is a charter for violence. At a time when the extent of domestic violence in Australia has become clearer, it is necessary to reject all the things that conceal and minimise it.

Although the day for the elimination of violence against women begins rightly by focusing on women, it should not be allowed to end there. Most violence against women is perpetrated by men. It follows that we must turn our attention to the reasons by men bash women, not to find an excuse for their behaviour, but to protect victims of violence by helping men understand and change their ways. If they learn to respect their wives and partners, both women and men will flourish.

That is the significance of the Jesuit Social Services Men’s Project. It asks what factors in men’s backgrounds and cultural assumptions leads them to act violently to women. Many men grow with stunted understanding of what it means to be male and of what women expect of men. Where masculinity is associated with aggression and stoicism in accepting pain, and no weight is placed on emotional honesty or on the exploration of feelings, frustration and resentment are likely to be expressed in violence. Patterns of behaviour learned as children are likely to be repeated as adults.

This suggests the size of the challenge of changing violent ways of acting towards woman. But for the sake both of women and men this challenge must be met.

Fr Andrew Hamiton SJ

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