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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

Unified in our generosity PDF Print E-mail

Sunday 29 July 2018: Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

The hand of the Lord feeds us

The fish and the loaves...As we become familiar with the style of John’s gospel, we recognise that today’s account of the feeding of the crowd – the introductory section of this long meditation - has strong overtones of the Eucharistic celebration: it is announced that the ‘feast of Passover’ is approaching; Jesus ‘gives thanks’ as at the Last Supper; Jesus himself distributes the loaves to all present.

This incident reminds us that the Saviour, whose Paschal Mystery we share in as we celebrate the Mass, is concerned for the welfare of God’s people at every level. We must have a concern for our brothers and sisters that is more than words and pious thoughts, if we are to show in our lives the true fruits of the Paschal Mystery. It has often been pointed out that, in the miraculous feeding of the crowd, Jesus called upon the generosity of collaborators...

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

31 July: Feast of St Ignatius

Jesuits celebrate the Feast of St Ignatius as their family feast. We also speak of the Ignatian tradition to which many Jesuit institutions belong. Some of those who work within them are Catholics active in their church communities. Others were brought up Catholic; still others are from many religious traditions or none. But Ignatius of Loyola has brought something to the way all of us work and see the world.

Jesuit works often try to crystallise that ‘something’ in mission statements and slogans. At Jesuit Social Services we describe our Ignatian inheritance in the words, Welcoming, Discerning, Courageous. We try to make our relationships with the vulnerable young people we serve, our relationships to one another, and all the decisions and institutional frameworks of our organisation welcoming, discerning and courageous. Of course, we often fail, but even our failures keep our compass pointing to these qualities.

The words in which we choose to embody any tradition are rooted in people, in stories and in a history of reflection. The Ignatian tradition is rooted in the story of St Ignatius and in his dealings with others and his world. The outlines of that story are well known. A war injury first gave space for an ambitious young courtier to reflect deeply on his life, led him to find in the life of Jesus inspiration to live poorly, to guide others to live well, to study for the priesthood in order better to help them, to gather young men around him to serve people, and finally to found an international religious congregation.

St Ignatius of LoyolaEach of the words adopted by Jesuit Social Services are anchored in Ignatius’ life. He was welcoming in giving his time to simple people who sought his advice, in engaging with the students at the University of Paris and inviting them to share his dreams, and in making the resources of the congregation he founded available to people of different nations. He was discerning in recognising the movements of the heart that bless or spoil important enterprises, and in focusing on what really mattered: the service of God and of other human beings. He was courageous in travelling dangerously and hanging in in the face of internal conflict and obstacles put in his way by church and society.

Welcoming, Discerning and Courageous name qualities essential in the relationships we develop with the people whom we accompany, with one another and with our environment. They are part of our Ignatian heritage.

Fr Andrew Hamilton SJ

Look to Jesus PDF Print E-mail

Sunday 22 July 2018: Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

My sheep hear my voice

Jesus, our Shepherd...Last Sunday we heard Mark’s account of the Twelve sent out to share in the Saviour’s mission. Today we have the aftermath described in vivid detail. As they rejoin Jesus, they are full of stories as they share the experience of their missionary journeys. We glimpse the openness and hospitality of the band Jesus gathered around him – ‘there were so many people coming and going that the apostles had no time even to eat’. Jesus suggests they cross the water to a ‘lonely place’ where they can ‘rest for a while’. Now he will teach them how to find the interior strength that comes from reflection and contemplation. The scene Mark describes, as Jesus and his disciples arrive at their destination, is a memorable one. The crowd has heard of their coming and awaits them. Hungry for what Jesus has to give them, they ‘were like sheep without a shepherd’. So he changed his plans and ‘set himself to teach them at some length’.

During the Easter season we were reminded that the Risen One is ‘the good shepherd’. On Good Shepherd Sunday, however, our image was the familiar iconic figure, bringing back the lost sheep on his shoulders. Today we have a down-to-earth image. People weighed down by life’s daily problems are looking to Jesus to renew the vision of hope he has given them in the past. He changes his plans and responds to their need. He has another important lesson for the Twelve – the love for struggling humanity that he shares with his Father. He knows no limit or holding back. He wants his disciples to be one with him in this love if they are to be companions in his mission...

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

Christ’s great mission PDF Print E-mail

Sunday 15 July 2018: Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Going on missionHe called the Twelve, and began to send them out

...We who take part in this liturgy have all been called to share in Christ’s great mission to the whole world. As we ponder this we should recall that God’s call is mysterious, originating in the eternal designs of the Father – as Paul writes, ‘Before the world was made, he chose us, chose us in Christ’. God’s call does not match our human expectations. Amos, the 8th century prophet, was a farmer who found himself charged with the daunting task of challenging the hypocrisy evident in the worship of the northern shrine of Bethel. The Twelve Apostles called by Jesus were an unlikely group, with backgrounds as varied as fishing, tax collecting and terrorism. Jesus sends them out with instructions that make very clear the seriousness of the task he is sharing with them: absolute reliance upon the ‘authority’ they have received from him, and an unselfishness and single-mindedness that will commend them to their listeners. Their mission reflects the mission Jesus has been engaged in: the call to a ‘repentance’ which is open to what God is about to do, ‘casting out devils’ and healing the sick. (The modern reader should not be distracted by the gospels’ frequent references to exorcism. The culture of the society in which Jesus lived assumed – as many cultures do, even today – that ills and maladies, physical and psychological, are due to the influence of evil spirits. Jesus’ mission to triumph over all evil was inevitably seen as a conflict with evil powers.)...

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

Anniversary of Spanish Flu (1918-2018)

2018 is the centenary of the Spanish Flu epidemic. In 1918 it took many lives than did the four years of war just ended that year. July came in a lull after its violent onset, before it’s even more lethal and dispiriting return later in the year. Its virulence reflected its power, but also testified to the connection between the injustices and inequalities of human society and the victims of epidemics.

It is easy to think of medical science in 1918 as relatively ignorant of ways to block and treat a dangerous virus. Yet previous experience and medical discoveries had taught that the virus was spread by air, and so from the nose, mouth and hands of people infected by it. Its spread could be limited by washing, masking one’s nose and mouth, and avoiding the opportunities for people to meet in crowds.

Governments, however, shrunk from enforcing these measures, under pressure from businesses that would lose profit and from workers who needed money to live. People who were poor often lived in squalid and overcrowded quarters with poor sanitation, an ideal environment for the spread of the disease. The death toll in India and other colonies which were deprived of food and medical resources in order to support European wars was particularly high.

The spread of the disease was also facilitated by soldiers returning from war. Often ill fed and vulnerable to infection, they carried the infection to their homelands. In Europe, too, the war had led to rationing of food and the lack of basic services, leaving people open to infection. Flu was yet another of the evils inflicted on their people by rulers who went lightly to war.

More people died of pneumonia and other complications after the flu than from the flu itself. The people most vulnerable were those whose health was already weakened by inadequate food, shelter and access to medical care. The flu virus sowed death; poverty and inequality reaped the harvest.

The flu epidemic reminds us that the way in which bad relationships feed the destructive power of epidemics, hurricanes and other so called acts of God. The safety of human beings depends on the quality of the network of relationships that connect them to one another and to the world. When inequality and violence and reign, people are vulnerable.

In churches and in organisations like Jesuit Social Services building good and respectful relationships is the foundation of our work. It enables people who are disadvantaged to connect with society and draws attention to effects of gross inequality on health and the human spirit.

Fr Andrew Hamilton SJ

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