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Recognising the other PDF Print E-mail

Sunday 09 August 2015: Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Walk in love, just as Christ

During Homelessness Prevention Week (3 - 9 August) we reflect on the ones who, in slipping through the cracks of society, have seemingly disappeared.

Homeless man

In recent years sleep-outs have become very popular. School students or executives in companies sleep rough, identifying themselves with homeless people, in an attempt to get the attention of people and governments to their plight. It is a symbolic step, but a significant one. The worst thing about being homeless or a beggar is not that no one will help you. It is that people walk past without even noticing you exist. You have become invisible and your hope blows away like a feather. Sleep outs help people notice. As so often Shakespeare tells us how it works when he has King Lear say:

Poor naked wretches, whereso'er you are, that bide the pelting of this pitiless storm, how shall your houseless heads and unfed sides, your looped and windowed raggedness, defend you from seasons such as these? Oh, I have ta'en too little care of this! Take physic, pomp. Expose thyself to feel what wretches feel, that thou mayst shake the superflux to them and show the heavens more just.

Lear comes to notice the conditions under which people lived when he is forced to share them himself. He urges the powerful to use their wealth to give shelter and a home to people who are homeless, so that others will notice them and recognise their humanity.

When we know people who are homeless, we know that the usual excuses for turning aside are not true. People do not want to be homeless. Certainly, they may have been so damaged by being driven out of home and being homeless that they have lost hope of finding a decent place to live. But they did not come to this by choice. It is forced on them by being rejected.

The roots of homelessness so often lie in the lack of a nurturing home in childhood. So if we are to address its roots we must help parents with young children to learn how to raise their children lovingly. We must provide resources to families under strain, so children can be educated and can make connection with society. This has been a focus of the programs of Jesuit Social Services and also central in our advocacy.

Fr Andrew Hamilton SJ | Image courtesy of pixabay.com

ThanksWith Gratitude: Feast of St Ignatius & Year of Consecrated Life Celebrations

Brothers and sisters in Christ,

I write to share with you my reflection on the celebration in our church last Sunday. It was wonderful to see so many people come together for the occasion. People came from near and far, and from all walks of life. We came together to celebrate our common privilege that is our “Consecrated Life” and the feast of St Ignatius.

It was a rare occasion to have the church jammed with people. Having ushers positioned at the main entrance of the church to welcome people ensured everyone felt at ease from the moment they arrived at our church. It was a gracious gesture. At the beginning of the Mass, the presentation of symbols from various Religious Congregations, who have had members serving or living in our parish, provided the opportunity to confirm the contribution of many men and women who helped built up our parish over the years. The celebration of the Eucharist went smoothly. The number of priests on the altar reflected the solemnity of the occasion. The three choirs performed beautifully. Their voices helped lift up our souls to God. It was a grace-filled ceremony. Many of the representatives from the Religious Orders in the congregation were of advanced age. Their presence reminded us of past times when there was a great number of people willing to serve God as members of Religious Congregations. It is hard not to be struck by the absence of young members among them.

In contrast, there were many young people at the celebration. Among them were four altar servers. They belong to a group of altar servers who help serve God throughout the year at this altar. They are committed people. It shows that they all have great love for God and God’s people. Hopefully, in the future they will continue to find ways to serve God, if not in the conventional manner, then at the greater altar which is not to be confined by the four walls of this church building or the boundary of this parish, but in the wider world. When it came to the time for refreshment, there was another extraordinary sign. The hall was packed with tables full of food and drink, which came from the generosity of our parishioners. Between these tables, there were five display boards, each with material exhibited on both sides. Many photos and articles recorded activities of our parish life over the many years.

The celebration was made possible through the extreme hard work and great organisational skills of members of our parish Faith@Work team, and ably assisted by our parish secretary. It was a wonderful celebration - see our photo album to view a selection of photographs taken on the day.

May God bless us all.

Fr Huy SJ