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The gift of the Holy Spirit PDF Print E-mail

Sunday 09 June 2019: Pentecost Sunday

God's Spirit renews the earth

The Holy Spirit...The season of Easter concludes with today's celebration, the feast of Pentecost. On Pentecost we celebrate the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles gathered in the upper room in Jerusalem; this event marks the beginning of the Church. The story of Pentecost is found in the Acts of the Apostles, today's first reading. The account in today's Gospel, taken from the Gospel of John, also recounts how Jesus gave the gift of the Holy Spirit to his disciples. There is no need to try to reconcile these two accounts to each other. It is enough to know that, after his death, Jesus fulfilled his promise to send to his disciples a helper, an advocate, who would enable them to be his witnesses throughout the world.

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

 
Jesus has been taken into heaven PDF Print E-mail

Sunday 02 June 2019: The Ascension of the Lord

While blessing them, he was taken to heaven

The Lord ascends into Heaven...Jesus directs the disciples to return to Jerusalem to await the fulfillment of his promise to send them the Holy Spirit. Curiously, only Mark and Luke actually report Jesus' Ascension into heaven. Matthew's Gospel concludes with Jesus' promise to remain with his disciples forever. Only the Gospel of Mark notes that Jesus ascended to sit at the right hand of God. In noting this, Mark teaches that Jesus' Ascension affirms the glory Jesus received from God after his death and Resurrection...

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

Pope’s Intention for June

That priests, through the modesty and humility of their lives, commit themselves actively to a solidarity with those who are most poor.

This month Pope Francis asks us to pray for an intention that has been close to his heart since he first became Pope. He wants us to pray for priests because their place in the life of the Church at every level in local congregations is so vital. He wants us to pray specifically that their attitudes and way of living be modelled on Jesus, who lived simply, focused on what mattered and loved to be with people who were poor and neglected.

In many of his talks to priests Pope Francis contrasts this way of life to clericalism. By this he means an attitude that emphasises the distance between priests and laypeople. It makes central to Catholic life obedience to the detailed laws, customs and beliefs of the Church, and sees the Church as the biggest and only show in town. Pope Francis believes that priests’ business is to bring the message of Jesus to people at the edge of the Church and society. They are servants and not bosses.

For Pope Francis this matters because to be a Christian is to be a follower of Jesus called to bring the attractiveness and strength of the Gospel to people at the margins. Priests are called to lead and encourage the people to do this, not to hide the treasure of the Gospel in a locked church.

His intention makes clear what he hopes for in priests: modesty and humility. Modesty is a personal style that prefers to listen rather than to speak, and sees the church community as a ‘we together’ and not as a ‘me over you’. Modesty looks up to the people on the edge of church and not down at them.

Humility means standing on the ground of the reality of ourselves, not on an inflated image of ourselves. The reality is that we are sinners whom God loves and calls each day to follow Jesus. If we see ourselves as weak human beings captured by God’s overwhelming love, it will be impossible to see ourselves as superior to others or to see others as unloved by God. Going out to people who are poor and are regarded by the comfortable as a waste of space reminds us of God’s love and of who we are.

Pope Francis’ ideal is very high, not only for priests but for all Christians. It is a gift, and we should be grateful that we find this gift among priests as often as we do, and pray that it may grow deeper, not simply among priests but in the church as a whole. It is easy to curse the darkness and blame those who live there. It is better to thank God for the candles who give light in the dark night of the church, and so to encourage the priests whom we see going beyond the borders of church to walk with people are on the edge. The best way to help priests do this, of course, is for us to invite them to walk with us as we go there.

Fr Andy Hamilton SJ

 
Sending the Advocate, the Holy Spirit PDF Print E-mail

Sunday 26 May 2019: Sixth Sunday of Easter

The Holy Spirit will teach you everything and remind you of all I have said to you

Holy Spirit...Jesus is preparing his disciples in advance for his absence so that they will continue to believe in him and not feel all alone after his return to the Father. After the initial excitement of his Easter appearances, Jesus will remain with his followers in a very different way throughout the centuries.

As our celebration of the Easter season is coming to an end, the liturgy reminds us that Jesus remains with us through the Holy Spirit, who teaches us everything we need to know, reminds us of all that Jesus taught, and brings us peace.

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

Reconciliation Week

26 May begins a week-long commemoration of significant events in the encounter between Indigenous people and later arrivals in Australia. Sorry Day, which honours the Stolen Generation of Indigenous children stripped from their families, bookends Reconciliation Week with the Referendum and the Mabo decision that marks its close. The week is one for all Australians to participate in and reflect on.

It may be helpful to look at the week as a period of Sorry Business, the period devoted in Indigenous cultures to grieve death. Sorry Business gathers the whole community of which the dead person is part - not merely the nuclear family but all those associated to them in kinship and other ways. It imposes an obligation upon people bound to the dead person to greet the immediate family in their house and support them in the funeral. It reflects the belief that the spirit of the dead person may rest only if they are present. The funeral is not an event to be done and moved on from but a time to be spent together.

Seen through the lens of Sorry Business, Sorry Day and Reconciliation Week belong together and involve all Australians. It is an invitation to the whole Australian Community to do Sorry Business for the death and diminishment which Government policies brought to the Stolen Generations. The removal of children from their parents was bound up with death in its beginnings and its consequences. It developed from the conviction that Indigenous culture was dying out. It was designed to accelerate that process by assimilating the snatched children to their dominant culture. It brought death to the spirit of people separated from their families and culture and often untimely physical death to them and their descendants.

We at Jesuit Social Services include many Indigenous Australians among the people we serve and those who accompany them. They are at the heart of our vision of Australia as a network of relationships between people and with our environment which are marked by respect. In our relationship to the natural world our Indigenous brothers and sisters are our teachers. In our relationships with one another as Australians, they call us to reconciliation that is built on respect and on recognition of the harm they have suffered through European settlement.

This is something for which all Australians can do sorry business. Indigenous Australians grieve the suffering and alienation that the children and their later families suffered through separation from their family and loss of their cultural traditions. Descendants of the Settlers can grieve the history of contempt for Indigenous culture and willful ignorance that lay behind the death-dealing practices of separation and has coloured the subsequent treatment of Indigenous peoples in Australia. The beginning of reconciliation is to take time for Sorry Business.

Fr A Hamilton SJ

 
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