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Love, service and sacrifice PDF Print E-mail

Sunday 19 May 2019: Fifth Sunday of Easter

Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice out of love for us.I give you a new commandment: love one another

...John's Gospel does not present a sentimental view of love. This is a type of love that is shown in service and sacrifice. It is difficult to choose to love when faced with hatred and anger. Jesus tells the disciples that all will know that they are his disciples because of the love they show for one another. This description of the early Christian community will be repeated in the Acts of the Apostles: "See how they love one another." Christian love is the hallmark of Christianity. We see it lived in the witness of the martyrs. We see it in the example of the lives of the saints. We see it in the holy women and men who live and love daily, making small and large sacrifices for others.

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

Shepherding us through life PDF Print E-mail

Sunday 12 May 2019: Fourth Sunday of Easter / Good Shepherd Sunday / World Day of Prayer for Vocations

I give my sheep eternal life

Jesus, the Good Shepherd.  Image courtesy of Hermano Leon Clipart.Prayer for Vocations

O God, who chose the apostles to make disciples of all nations, and who by Baptism and Confirmation has called us to build up your Holy Church, we implore you to choose from among us, your children, many priests and religious who will love you with their whole hearts and will gladly spend their lives to make you better known and loved by all.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Mary Sparked Her Son’s Vocation

One could imagine a Jewish mother of a single son, while attending a wedding, might nudge her son to go dance with the young women perhaps because she is ready for grandchildren! Not so with Mary at the wedding in Cana. She, of course, knew her son’s divine origins and suspected his divine mission. So instead, she sparked the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry as well as his priestly ministry, because turning water into wine was a foreshadowing of him turning wine into his Blood. Thus, we see in Mary an example of a mother who not only nurtured life, but also nurtured a vocation.

On the topic of mothers, as we also celebrate Mother's Day today in Australia, let us pause to consider Fr Andy's reflection:

When I was a child we did not celebrate Mother's Day. My mother, who believed strongly in Saints Days, thought Mother's Day a new fangled trick by American Department Stores to wangle money out of families. She may also secretly have thought that one day out of 365 - and 366 each leap year - was a poor return for what mothers gave of themselves, their time and their labour.

However that may be, the day does give us the opportunity to thank our mothers and to reflect on the distinctive contribution that mothers make to society through their care of their children. The day forms a triptych with Father's Day and Family Day in expressing gratitude to people who shape our lives as children. Each of these days celebrates relationships that bless us as human beings.

Mother's Day points to the importance of being there and being well disposed in relationships, even if these qualities are often devalued. A mother’s disposition and behaviour during pregnancy and the first months after birth contributes to the health and happiness of the growing child. Basic trust and security develop in this time. The subsequent relationship with the mother, or with the person who offers encouragement and nurturing, also help shape the basic dispositions of the child in adulthood. The lasting importance of mothers is brought out in times of desolation - in war or in detention centres, for example - many adults cry out at night for their mothers.

For that reason Mother’s Day is not simply a celebration for the family but for society. It is a chance for society to recognise the importance of mothers and to honour and facilitate their contribution. This poses a dilemma today because the premise on which our economy is built is that people are valued by the economic contribution they make to society, and so are expected to work in the market. But no value is put on the mother’s contribution at home. This puts a heavy burden on single mothers, who are often already burdened by not being able to share the care and nurturing of young children with partners, and who also often lack financial resources. They are often regarded in society as second class citizens instead of being admired for their generosity and so receiving help to discharge their responsibilities.

At Jesuit Social Services we often meet vulnerable young people who have been deprived of a caring mother early in their lives. We meet others who have been taken from their homes and confined in justice centres. Their lives are marked by this deprivation, and our own work lies in accompanying them building the trust in themselves and others they have never had. We know what a difference that adequate support for their mothers and carers in their early years might have made.

Mother's Day is a day to thank our own mothers and to acknowledge the debt we all owe to people who accept the responsibility of mothering. It is also a time for asking how as a society we can encourage mothering.

Fr Andy Hamilton | Image courtesy of Hermano Leon Clipart

A source of hope PDF Print E-mail

Sunday 05 May 2019: Third Sunday of Easter

Jesus stepped forward, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish

Apostleship of Prayer: Pope’s intention for May

For the African Church: that it may be a seed for unity and a source of hope for the continent.

Fish in the netMany Australians today place little trust in institutions. Parliaments, banks and churches have lost much of their credibility. All of them have been tainted by scandalous and destructive behaviour that has eroded the good reputation they once had in the community.

That loss of trust may well be merited, but it is also a loss for society. Institutions that have earned a reputation for living by the beliefs and values that they profess provide a compass for public life. This is important particularly where civil society is not strong and where widespread conflict and mistrust divide the groups that compose it. Churches have traditionally had this role in society, and have been trusted when commenting on values. Even now, when churches are generally less trusted, some church agencies are seen as beacons. We need to think only of the Vinnies or the Salvos. Both are seen to benefit society by being there for people who are doing it hard and by speaking on their behalf. What they profess is mirrored in what they do.

Pope Francis’ intention for May recognises the special contribution which a Church that follows Jesus can make to Africa in particular. Many African nations are composed of strong tribal groups and clans with a long history of conflict and of colonial exploitation. In many nations, too, democratic processes, in which ruling parties and heads of state cheerfully hand over power after losing elections, are relative recent. In such societies institutions that do not seek political power and that bring together members of different families, tribes and clans can contribute powerfully to building a united and diverse nation. Their peaceful inner life, their negotiating differences, and the way in which they reach out to other religious groups can encourage national harmony.

The possibilities for churches were shown dramatically in Pope Francis’ Retreat for leaders of rival parties and militias in South Sudan. The Pope was joined by the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, and concluded the meeting by painfully kneeling to kiss the feet of each of the leaders. The leaders have committed to share power for the benefit of all the people.

In Uganda, too, which was plagued by the remnants of a separatist war and constant atrocities committed both by rebel and national military, Catholic priests came together with Protestant ministers and Muslim imams to bring the warring groups together and bring about peace in the Acholi region.

The Gospel message of reconciliation is indeed a seed that can grow into unity between once hostile religious groups, and flow over into building peaceful institutions. The examples of South Sudan and Uganda show how Catholics inspired by the Gospel can leave the comfort of their own prejudices and communities, reach out to other churches and religions, and then together bring into conversation the leaders of rival groups that have brought terror to the people.

Like our own churches, the African Catholic Church is composed of fearful, frail and sinful people. Like ours, too, its glory lies in the faithfulness and courage of small local congregations who live the Gospel. They have earned our prayers and support.

Fr Andy Hamilton | Image courtesy of Hermano Leon Clipart

Believing without seeing PDF Print E-mail

Doubting Thomas touches Jesus' wounded sideSunday 28 April 2019: Divine Mercy Sunday

After eight days Jesus came in and stood among them

Our Easter celebration has once again come and gone. Participation in the liturgy has probably been a deeply moving and inspiring experience for many. But now life goes on as before, in a world that does not seem to have been changed. The words of the Preface, ‘The joy of the resurrection renews the whole world’, don’t seem to ring true. As this mood overtakes us, let us recall that the apostles themselves did not find it easy to come to terms with what the Saviour’s victory over death meant for them. They had looked forward to sharing with Jesus in his messianic triumph, but now their world seemed to go on as before. It is remarkable that all four gospels tell of the ‘doubts’ and ‘hesitations’ of the apostles as they came to faith in the Lord’s Resurrection. In today’s gospel reading from John these doubts are expressed by Thomas – the stolid realist who objected at the Supper, ‘We don’t know where you are going; how can we know the way’. Perhaps we shall find the way forward in the faith journey of this Easter season if we reflect upon Jesus’ greeting of ‘Peace’...

Extract by John Thornhill sm - read more at The Emmaus Series | Image courtesy of pixabay.com

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