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2018 World Day of Social Justice PDF Print E-mail

Sunday 18 February 2018: First Sunday of Lent

He was tempted by Satan, and the angels looked after him

First Sunday of LentAmong the movers and shakers of society social justice comes in and out of favour. Over the last decades it went out of favour. Conventional wisdom had it that business was responsible only to its shareholders, and that it need not, indeed must not, consider its responsibilities to society. Political parties, too, appealed only to sectional interests in their campaigns, devising slogans enshrining the interests of small business, of workers with aspirations and of working families. Except to execrate them they never mentioned the homeless, the unemployed, the destitute or the exiled. They agreed that policies which benefited the very wealthy would by some magic benefit the poor and saw competition as the elixir to personal and social wellbeing. The cure to every economic malady was seen to lie in cutting government expenditure, particularly on programs that benefited the most needy.

World Social Justice Day on 20 February occurs this year at a time when social justice is returning to favour. Bank executives are beginning to own their social responsibilities. Economists are beginning to see inequality as a problem. Low wages of workers are no longer seen as the sign of a productive economy but as a barrier to a prosperous economy. Talk of the common good is no longer seen as out of place but as a powerful idea. Government spending is seen as helpful. Austerity that punishes the poor and the passion for balancing budgets are no longer de rigeur. But often still lacking is a vision of what is necessary to build a just society.

Contributing to the vision that guides Jesuit Social Services are the principles of Catholic social Teaching. They offer the building blocks of a just society. Their central insight is that each human person is precious and unique, and so must always be respected. Respect demands that people not be treated simply as means to an end: workers as a cost in production, for example, or people who seek protection as aliens. It also sees that relationships are all important in human life – we depend on our environment and on one another in everything that we do from being born, making money, to being educated and enjoying technology. Because we depend on one another we are responsible to one another, particularly to the most vulnerable. That responsibility touches us in our domestic life and also in the organisation of the economy. So the making of wealth and the running of business have a social license – they are part of society with a responsibility to society.

For Jesuit Social Services, as for the Catholic tradition that it inherits, symbolism matters. We work with many Indigenous young people and know that when we accompany them we commit ourselves to honour their history and their struggle to find acceptance of their rightful status in Australia. The Apology remains a powerful symbol of that commitment and encourages us to deepen it.

Fr Andrew Hamilton | Image courtesy of Hermano Leon Clipart

 
Lent: a matter of giving PDF Print E-mail

Sunday 11 February 2018: Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

The leprosy left him and he was cured

In 2018 the Lenten period is 14 February to 01 April.

Jesus heals the leperLent’s most vivid memories are often of the things we have given up. When we were children we may have given up eating sweets. We put them in a bottle longing for Easter Sunday when we could pig out on the sticky mess. When we grew older, we sometimes gave up alcohol. As we age we muse on the possibility of giving up introducing every single conversation with an account of our various aches and pains. Maybe some Lent we might get around to do it.

But Lent is not only, or even mostly, about giving up things. It invites many other kinds of giving. Like Ramadan for Muslims, Lent is also a time for simple giving. It invites us to give food to the poor through Project Compassion. It invites us to give more time to our family than we usually do, and to give space to prayer. It also allows us to notice the world around us and to respond to it. We notice homeless people in the streets, the colour and texture of gardens, and the feelings there to see on faces in the street.

Lent also offers opportunities to give things away. We listen to Jesus speaking of the flowers of the field that are so effortlessly well dressed. We are inspired to give to the Vinnies shirts and shorts we have never worn and the perfumes, dancing shoes, shampoos, fly nets and shooting sticks that we have accumulated just in case. We discover the simple joys of travelling more lightly.

We may also find opportunity at Lent for giving in. Normally, of course, our business at Lent is about not giving in: we count it a lapse if we give in to the allure of the chocolate or cigarettes we have given up. But we may sometimes become aware of a little voice inviting us to let go of a resentment we have nurtured for many years. Ordinarily we would resist the voice that urges generosity. This Lent we decide to give in to it.

Lent is not just about giving up, but about all kinds of giving. But at its heart lies, not giving, but being given. Its point is to remind us of all that we have been given by God through Jesus, and to encourage us to be thankful for it. Jesus is the dearest gift that God can give us – God’s self. He is given into our hands as a vulnerable baby to be accepted or rejected as we choose. He joins us in the ordinary meetings and business of our lives, listening, speaking and there to be heard or dismissed as we choose. He offers freedom and as full life and is rewarded with captivity, torture, rejection and a painful death. By sharing in the death we must die he gives us life. Lent makes us aware of the seriousness and cost of this gift and invites us to be thankful.

At Jesuit Social Services we daily confront the need for all these kinds of giving and remembering. When walking with vulnerable young people we need to give up so many of our prejudices, to give our time and our hearts, and to give away our free time. We also need to recognise the gift that these young people are to us and we to them.

Fr Andrew Hamilton SJ | Image courtesy of Niels Larsen Stevns: Helbredelsen af den spedalske, Healing of the Leper by Gunnar Bach Pedersen [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

Ash Wednesday 2018

Cross of ashWednesday 14 February 2018 marks the beginning of Lent. Mass times are as follows:

  • St Ignatius' Church: 7:30am, 12 noon, 7:30pm
  • St James’ Church: 9:00am
 
Christ's healing presence PDF Print E-mail

Sunday 04 February 2018: Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Jesus heals Simon's mother-in-lawHe cured many who suffered from diseases of one kind or another

...Jesus cured Simon’s mother-in-law, and she immediately began to serve Jesus and his disciples. Jesus also cured many others who were brought to him, healing their illnesses and driving out demons. As we will see throughout Mark’s Gospel, Jesus did not permit the demons to speak because they knew his identity and would have revealed it to those who were present.

On the morning after this busy day, Jesus retreated in prayer, but was pursued by Simon and others who brought news that many people were looking for him. At this point in Mark’s Gospel, we begin to see a distinct role for the inner circle of Jesus’ disciples—they act as intermediaries between Jesus and the people. Jesus reports to his disciples that they need to leave Capernaum to preach in other places.

Today’s Gospel completes a picture of Jesus’ ministry: preaching, curing the sick, driving out demons, and then moving on to continue this work in another place. Mark's Gospel tells us that Jesus did this throughout Galilee...

Read more at Sunday Connection, Loyola Press, A Jesuit Ministry | Image courtesy of Hermanoleon Clipart

 
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