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The bread come down from heaven PDF Print E-mail

Sunday 19 August 2018: Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Priest and the EucharistMy flesh is real food and my blood is real drink

...Among the stumbling blocks for those who heard but did not understand Jesus is the teaching that the bread that Jesus will give is his own flesh. In response to the people who quarreled over his words, Jesus teaches with even greater emphasis that salvation comes to those who eat his Body and Blood. Jesus doesn’t seem to answer the question posed about how salvation will come about, perhaps because this reality can only be understood after his death and Resurrection. Instead, Jesus teaches about the life that he will give to the world...

Read more at Sunday Connection, Loyola Press, A Jesuit Ministry | Image courtesy of pixabay.com

20 - 26 August: Migrant and Refugee Week

World Migrant and Refugee Sunday is celebrated by Catholics around the world. It invites us to extend our compassion beyond our own suburb, city and nation, and reminds us that the plight of refugees and immigrants is world-wide. The constant flow of people from the Middle East, the pushing back of refugees from Europe, the hostility shown by governments and people in many countries, the suspicion of migrants from Africa and the punishment of people already punished by war, are features of many societies besides our own.

Compassion and hospitality are central values of the Catholic Church. They are Jesus’ values. He invites us to feed people who seek protection and are left without any support wherever we are. He also invites us to help their children learn, to offer them free medical care, to find them work that will help them support themselves, to demand compassion from politicians, and to weep at and denounce cruelty towards them. These invitations are not made simply to saints in other places and at other times. They are made to people like us around the world.

Pope Francis is often seen as the face of the Catholic Church. His own face has certainly been turned compassionately to people who have sought protection. Early on as Pope he visited Lampedusa, the Mediterranean island to which people seeking protection often came. He prayed with them and lamented the cruelty that led so many of their relatives and friends to die at sea. Last month on the anniversary of his travel to Lampedusa he again prayed for them.

Each Migrant and Refugee Sunday he sends a message to Catholics and through them to the wider world. This year it is built around four words: welcome, protect, promote and integrate. Each is a central part of a good society. At the heart of each is the conviction that each human being is precious and is bound to all other human beings. We make a claim on each other. These words also make a claim on all our Jesuit works, including Jesuit Social Services. Refugees are our brothers and sisters, and in their vulnerability and resilience they are blood brothers of the people whom we serve.

To welcome is to smile, speak well of people, and to make them feel at home. To protect is to look beyond numbers and differences, to recognise the danger that people are in, and to respond by giving them shelter. To promote is to look to their welfare, to help them access services, to speak up for them and to make connections between them and society at large. Finally, to integrate is to invite them into our churches and local groups, to visit them in their places of worship and at their festivals. It is to make space for them by accepting their invitation to move into their space.

We can do this by prayer, by conversation, by visiting, by advocacy and by hospitality. All these things are the stuff of the Gospel.

Fr Andrew Hamilton SJ

 
Jesus is our bread of life PDF Print E-mail

Sunday 12 August 2018: Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

I am the bread of lifeI am the living bread come down from heaven

...Today’s Gospel begins with a report that the Jews complained about Jesus’ claims regarding his identity. They knew his family, and they knew he was the son of Joseph. They could not comprehend what Jesus meant when he said that he came down from heaven. Jesus responds to the complaints by saying that only those who are chosen by God will recognize him as the one that God sent. This is a recurring theme in John’s Gospel, that God has chosen those who will have faith in Jesus...

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

12 August: International Youth Day

Young people are endlessly fascinating for the ageing. Sometimes they come to our attention simply for looking good, and at other times for being exceptionally good at pursuits that demands high skills: football or gymnastics, for example. And sometimes we are drawn to them simply because they are young and have their lives in front of them. We are correspondingly moved when they fall seriously ill or die before their time.

More rarely we notice people who are very good in the face of great pressure. Many of us were moved by the Thai boys trapped in a cave. We sympathised with them in their terrible predicament, but were also deeply impressed by their resilience and care for one another in the face of darkness, separation from family and their inevitable fear that they would not be rescued but would die slowly in the cave. And who could not admire their coach, who led them safely to higher ground, went without food in order to keep them alive, apologised to the parents for being the cause of their plight, and insisted that he be the last to be rescued?

These boys have become heroes. But others have been trashed. With an election coming in Victoria, at least, criminal behaviour by some few young people have led to young Africans being targeted and politicians competing with one another to devise harsh penalties regardless of the background and the circumstances. The pressure is to put children into caves, not to release them. It sits ill with the theme of World Youth Day 2018: findings safe spaces for young people

The interest in young people and the way it can turn so quickly from total sympathy to total condemnation may betray a deeper anxiety about them. Because young people are the future of our society we constantly take their temperature to see that all is well. Our anxiety at youth behaving badly shows that our interest in them is serious. When we are anxious, however, we often look for a quick fix without addressing what the causes of what concerns us. We see this in the response to lawbreaking by young people in Australia. The media act as bellows to turn the embers of anxiety into flames; governments placate the anxiety by imposing increasingly heavy penalties on them, so destining many young people to a lifetime in adult gaols. That is irrational and destructive.

It is better to acknowledge our anxiety, reflect carefully on the causes of the situations that provoke it, and deal with those causes. In our policy research and advocacy at Jesuit Social Services we try to address these issues. Young people who act unlawfully have often suffered traumatic experiences in early childhood, lived in broken or dysfunctional families, experienced failure and isolation in schools and been unable to find work. Those factors need to be addressed early by support for families under stress, offering young people good role models, support them with programs to help them benefit from education and find work, and so on.

Nurturing young people is about making safe places. Places of imprisonment are never safe. Neither do they provide lasting safety for the community.

Fr Andrew Hamilton SJ

 
Celebrating feasts PDF Print E-mail

Sunday 05 August 2018: Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Bread from heavenWhoever comes to me will never be hungry; whoever believes in me will never thirst

...What Jesus has to give is immeasurably greater than the earthly nourishment of the old story. It is only through faith that the hearers of Jesus can possess what he is offering them. In today’s passage, therefore, Jesus is encouraging his hearers to find the faith they will need if they are to recognise ‘the bread from heaven’ that his Father is offering them. We too should take his teaching to heart, as his disciples...

Extract by John Thornhill sm - read more at The Emmaus Series | Image courtesy of Hermanoleon Clipart

Celebrating the Feast of St Ignatius

Today our parish celebrated the Feast of St Ignatius of Loyola (actual Feast Day is on 31 July).  Trinity Catholic School celebrated the Feast Day with a whole school Mass last Tuesday. The day was made even more special through the witnessing of two of our students celebrating their First Reconciliation and First Communion.

Students learned that Ignatius was a man who came to know and love Jesus deeply. He lived his life as a companion of Jesus and encouraged his followers to do the same. Ignatius was a great teacher and he understood that it was important for children to come to know about the love of God and Jesus. Ignatius teaches us to find God in all things.

St Ignatius was the founder of the Jesuits. He is particularly important to our school because we are a Jesuit school. St Ignatius devised spiritual exercises such as The Examen to help us find God in our daily lives. Students practice The Examen, at Trinity Catholic School on a regular basis.

Last Friday, students from Trinity Catholic School and St Kevin's College celebrated the Sacrament of Confirmation with newly appointed Archbishop Peter Comensoli.

Please pray for all of our confirmed students.

06 August: Feast of the Transfiguration

The atomic bomb fell on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, the Catholic Feast of the Transfiguration. In the Gospel story Peter, James and John see the light of God’s glory shine out of Jesus. The contrast between the light that brings life and the light that brought death has haunted Christian reflection on Hiroshima.

In the Scriptures light is almost always seen as good, in contrast to darkness. If we see the light we move from confusion to clarity. When we walk in the light we are free from the darkness of sin. When Moses goes up the mountain to speak with God, he needs to veil his face for his own protection. God is light; Jesus, the Son of God, is described as God from God, light from light. In the parable, careless people thrown out of the marriage feast of heaven fall into darkness.

Against that background we are not surprised to hear that when Jesus is revealed for who he is on the mountain, his clothing and his face are lit up with a blinding light. Jesus is the light of the world. After their initial fright, Peter, James and John discover that the top of the mountain is a good place to be. In the dazzling light they have come alive.

At Hiroshima the flash of the atomic bomb was described as brighter than a thousand suns. It bought death to about 140,000 people, and in subsequent years many thousands more suffered from its effects.

The symbolism of the bomb and of Jesus’s transfiguration have many similarities but greater differences. Both displayed power, one the power of God and the other of human devising. The power of both was expressed in the light and the sounds that accompanied the event. In both the light and sound came from above, in one case from God with a message of comfort, and in the other from the bomb with a message of desolation. In both scenes the people considered wise in their tradition gathered around the event. Moses and Elijah represented the Jewish tradition; scientists and generals represented the military tradition.

Though superficially so similar, the two displays of light were ultimately opposed. Jesus’ transfiguration revealed God’s love and reconciliation. Its light promised life. The atomic bomb revealed man’s inhumanity to man, hatred and destruction of community. It promised the end of human life on earth and a peace based only on mutual mistrust.

As we celebrate the revelation of God in Jesus in a year when the use of nuclear weapons has again been canvassed, we are invited to turn away from the darkness that follows the light of Hiroshima. We are invited to put our trust in the God of light who sent his Son unarmed to bring peace and reconciliation.

For us at Jesuit Social Services the choice between the light that gives life and the light that brings darkness speaks strongly. The vulnerable people we serve are so often harmed by flashy policies prompted by media glare. They depend for their flourishing on the light of respect for their humanity and the light of truth in their treatment. The choice between true and false light reaches beyond war and peace.

Fr Andrew Hamilton SJ

 
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