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God’s Spirit renews PDF Print E-mail

Sunday 20 May 2018: Pentecost Sunday

Jesus appears to his disciples and gives them the gift of the Holy Spirit

The Holy SpiritThe 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, John 20:19-23, also recounts how Jesus gave the gift of the Holy Spirit to his disciples. Yet the event in John’s Gospel takes place on Easter Sunday. There is no need to try to reconcile these two accounts. It is to we 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.

In the context of the feast of Pentecost, John 20:19-23 reminds us about the integral connection between the gifts of peace and forgiveness and the action of the Holy Spirit. Jesus greets his disciples with the gift of peace. Jesus then commissions his disciples to continue the work that he has begun: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” He breathes the Holy Spirit upon the disciples and sends them to continue his work of reconciliation through the forgiveness of sins...

Read more at Sunday Connection, Loyola Press, A Jesuit Ministry

 
Why gaze in wonder at the heavens? PDF Print E-mail

Sunday 13 May 2018: The Ascension of the Lord

Ascension of JesusThe Lord Jesus was taken into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God

Jesus is not abandoning his friends. On the contrary, he tells them to look forward to ‘what the Father has promised’. When they are ‘baptised with the Holy Spirit’ – the Spirit who is the very expression of the life he shares with the Father – he will be with them in all that they are called to be and do.  The Lord's new presence will fill with new life the Church which is about to be launched forth on its mission - to bring the power and blessings of the Lord's Paschal Mystery ‘to the ends of the earth’ (Luke), ‘to all creation’ (Mark).

According to the Gospel of Luke the angels tell the disciples not to seek the Lord ‘in the sky’, but to take up the mission they have received, to be his ‘witnesses’ throughout their world.  The era of the pilgrim Church that is about to begin – the angels tell them - will end when Jesus returns, and the Church's life in faith and sacraments gives way to the absolute fulfilment of the final Kingdom...

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

May 15: World Families Day

The theme of World Families Day this year concerns the role of families in promoting peaceful and inclusive societies. In referring to inclusive societies the chosen theme shows awareness that public discussion of families is sometimes controversial. It can be seen to exclude other forms of relationship by implying that a real family must include a husband, wife and children.

Questions about the composition of families are important. But by placing families in the context of peaceful and inclusive societies Families Day reminds us that our preoccupation with defining family life is a relative luxury that few in the world can afford. The sight of refugee families herded in camps as they flee from persecution and killing in their own nations brings home the challenges that so many families face. A closer look at the faces of refugees in camps, too brings home to us the burden and anxiety that mothers bear in caring for children in conditions where there is no security nor any assurance of food, shelter and medical care. If the faces of few fathers can be seen it is not because they have deserted their families. They may be dead, imprisoned or conscripted.

The theme of world families day also reminds us that peace is not given to millions of families around the world; nor are the societies both from which and to which they have fled inclusive. The survival of men, women and children can depend on the colour of their skin, their tribe or their religion. If people in such conditions think of a peaceful and inclusive society in which their families can flourish, they don’t see their prayer as idealistic. They pray for it desperately as a condition of their survival.

In all cultures families are the foundation on which the future of society is built. They keep children safe and prepare them to live fruitfully in society. That is why in our society it is so important to focus on families as people with names who are joined together in raising children. We hold in our imaginations the actual children, mothers and fathers in our society rather than an abstract picture of an ideal family.

At Jesuit Social Services we have no other option. So many of the young people we serve have grown up in dysfunctional families in which they may not have felt safe or loved. We know that to care for families in our society we must attend to the conditions under which they live, and to ensure that they have resources that will support them in raising children as loving and trusting human beings. This requires a strong investment by society in its families to ensure its own future.

Fr Andy Hamilton SJ

 
God's love for us PDF Print E-mail

Sunday 06 May 2018: Sixth Sunday of Easter

No one can have greater love than to lay down his life for his friends

Sign: you are worthy of loveAs we look forward to celebrating the Lord's Ascension and Pentecost's coming of his promised Spirit, our Easter season is drawing to a close.  The mood of today's liturgy is reflective, inviting us to take in more fully the deep implications of our Easter faith.

Standing out in today's readings is the theme of love. What more important theme is there for our restless human hearts?  Yet it is so often trivialised and distorted in today's popular culture.  From our earliest years we have learned to know what genuine love is, not from lessons in words, but by being loved ourselves. Today's readings invite us to recognise that the Paschal Mystery that is the centre of our Easter celebration is an expression of God's love for us, and an invitation to enter into the love of Jesus and his Father, and to give it expression in our own lives.  True love expresses itself in action rather than in words.  The Father's love, John's letter tells us, was expressed in our midst when he 'sent into the world his only Son, so that we could have life in him'.  The words of Jesus in John's gospel remind us how complete is the gift which he brings, as an expression of the love which he shares with the Father: ‘A man can have no greater love than to lay down his life for his friend’...

Extract by John Thornhill sm - read more at The Emmaus Series

World Communications Day

Pope Francis' message for World Communications Day was released on 24 January 2018.  The day will be celebrated at the Vatican and in most dioceses on 13 May however in Australia we celebrate the day today.

The eighth of the Ten Commandments is 'Thou shalt not bear false witness'.  We usually understand that to forbid telling lies.  But bearing false witness in the ancient world was a special kind of lie that had lethal consequences. The commandment forbids us to lay false charges against our enemies or competitors.  By bearing false witness people could strip their enemies of all their property and have them tortured and executed.

Understood in this grave way the commandment has more to say to our society today than to encourage us to avoid telling porkies.  Damaging other people by making false charges and spreading malicious rumours about them has become a standard political tool.  It has become particularly common and effective through the internet.  Fake news can win elections and decide referenda.  Facebook and Twitter are full of people writing hatefully of others, destroying reputations and sometimes driving young people to despair and even suicide.  Programs built on false evidence and targeted at vulnerable sections of the population help poison people's minds against religious and ethnic minorities.  We are beginning to understand, too, how big corporations can make money out of such behaviour.

Those who were brought up on the Catechism will know that this sort of behaviour is against the eighth commandment.  It amounts to calumny and detraction.  It is not wrong simply because it breaks a commandment but because it damages human lives.  We should ask ourselves what we lose as human beings and communities if we lie, spread harmful rumours or try to ruin our rivals by spreading false rumours about them.  Why does truth matter?

Ultimately it matters because our own personal lives and happiness depend on other people.  We can flourish only if others flourish.  So if we are to build a world that serves everybody well, we must be able to trust one another.  In our families we need to trust that we are all committed to one another as well as to ourselves.  In our work we need to be able to trust our partners' promises and agreements, and trust that the words they speak correspond to what they believe.  Otherwise we could not work effectively with one another.  Imagine the world we would live in if we could never trust that cheques were not forged, that agreements would not be honoured, that goods we had paid for would not be delivered and that words of love were worthless.

Our work at Jesuit Social Services depends on the trust we build with vulnerable young people.  When they know they are trusted, they can begin to trust themselves and to build trusting relationships with others based on honest and true words.

In public life it is important that we be able to trust those whom we have elected and government officials.  We need to be confident that in public conversation they will speak truthfully and respectfully.  That is why fake news and abuse are so destructive.  They encourage us to believe that others are not working for our shared good but for their own selfish ends.  That cynicism would lead us to despair in the task of shaping a nation that is for all who live in it.

Fr Andy Hamilton SJ

 
Jesus is the true vine PDF Print E-mail

Sunday 29 April 2018: Fifth Sunday of Easter

I am the vine, you are the branches

The vineyard of the Lord...Jesus teaches his disciples that his relationship with them will not end after his death; he will remain with them always. This unity between Jesus and his disciples is the basis for their ability to continue to do the work that he began. Similarly, Jesus’ presence with us through the Gift of the Holy Spirit enables us to continue the work of love and reconciliation that he began.

Jesus also teaches his disciples about the importance of the words he has taught to them. Just as Jesus will remain in the disciples, so too will his words. We come to know Jesus through the Scriptures, the living Word of God. Our commitment to be Christ’s disciples is sustained through God’s Word. This commitment is also strengthened by our life of prayer and nourished by the Eucharist. Through the Eucharist, Jesus dwells in us, remains with us, and transforms us so that we might bear fruit in his name...

Read more at Sunday Connection, Loyola Press, A Jesuit Ministry

 
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