A hunger to be fed

Celebration of First Holy Communion (Readings from the feast of Body and Blood of Christ) in St John Vianney Parish. The final of two special Masses.

Like when Jesus gathered with his disciples, we continue to gather to be fed by the Lord in the readings and to be united by him in this meal of new life and new hope. Jesus fed the huge crowd first with his word of life and then with food. When the disciples ask Jesus to feed the crowd, he first asks them to give them something to eat. The disciples forget that Jesus can do anything – he did after all just walk across the water.

This is especially the case as we also are invited to allow the kingdom of God to break into our lives, so that we can be changed by our encounter with the very presence of the Lord.

Play MP3

Recorded at St John Vianney Church, 12noon (4’44”)

Before this Mass (like last week) I asked the Year Three children to suggest a few words that I had to include in the homily that I shared with them. Initially they suggested words like ‘Jesus’, ‘bread’, ‘wine’, ‘bible’, ‘God’, ‘eucharist’, but then their words became a little more left-field, like ‘random’, ‘rubber suit’ and ‘chocolate’. Hopefully this may explain why there appear to be these slightly random words today and last Sunday ­čśë

The decision of the dishonest manager

Sunday 25C – Luke 16:1-13

Across the Gospels, Jesus tells something like 40 parables (a good biblical number); there are 23 in Matthew, 9 in Mark, 28 in Luke but none in John; seven are found in all three of the Synoptic Gospels (Mt, Mk, Lk) and various ones are found in two gospels; some are unique to Matthew (10); one is unique to Mark; 15 are unique to the Gospel of Luke. Among these parables that are unique to the Gospel of Luke are some of the most-loved of all the parables that Jesus told – ones like the Good Samaritan and┬áthe ones that we had last Sunday – the lost sheep (also told in Matthew), the lost coin and the lost son. But I doubt if there are many people (if any?) who would claim the Parable of the dishonest manager as their most loved parable. Do you?

The parable has perplexed scholars and saints across the centuries – in part because it is not absolutely clear where the parable ends and the words of Jesus begin. Is the master (Greek kyrios) in 16:8 the master in the story or the Lord Jesus? Mostly today the parable is considered to finish at 16:8a, and the words of Jesus begin with “for the children of this age…” which makes sense.So is it possible to read this powerful parable in a new way so that it may even become your favourite? Probably not, but let’s try…

Play MP3

Recorded at St John Vianney (11’26”)

New life and new hope

Celebration of First Holy Communion (Readings from the feast of Body and Blood of Christ) in St John Vianney Parish at the first of two special Masses. Like when Jesus gathered with his disciples, we continue to gather to be fed by the Lord in the readings and to be united by him in this meal of new life and new hope. This is especially the case as we also are invited to allow the kingdom of God to break into our lives, so that we can be changed by our encounter with the very presence of the Lord.

 
Recorded at St┬áJohn Vianney, 12noon (4’26”)

Grace is found beyond justice

Sunday 24 (Year C) – Luke 15:1-32

I heard during the week of an Australian policeman who has been working for many years in the highlands of Papua New Guinea with the local tribes people there. For many generations their custom has been to seek vengeance for any slight or injury through violence, and consequently the incidence of injury by axe and machete is very high. But through this policeman, slowly this community is discovering a different way of dealing with conflict – the way of justice. We could dismiss this as just being the behaviour of people who are much more primitive┬áthen ourselves. And yet…

Today, many people around the world are remembering what we were doing nine years ago, when we heard about the events of September 11, 2001. I was on a silent retreat, so it was only when I went to Mass that morning that I heard the brothers in the monastery pray about the events in the Prayer of the Faithful. I am sure that everyone here is able to tell exactly where they were and what they were doing when they heard the news; news that continues to have ramifications across the world, as Australia continues to be part of the so-called coalition forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. We also heard during the week of an American pastor who thought that the most appropriate response to a mosque being built near ground zero was to burn copies of the Koran. All of these responses are simply one level of responding within the boundaries of justice.

But although we worship a God of justice, our God is so much more than just. He doesn’t just deal with us according to the demands of justice – he treats us with the mercy that we never deserved. This is one of the reasons that the Pharisees – good, God-fearing, upright and religious men and women who are faithful to the demands of the law, and cannot understand how this Jesus person can bear to share with these notorious tax-collectors and sinners. Unlike St Paul, himself a former Pharisee, who knew that he never deserved to be treated specially or that he deserved to be saved, these people think that they merit the kingdom of God because of their good works and deeds. It is in that context that Jesus tells the three parables that comprise the whole of Luke 15 – the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son.

Play MP3

Recorded at St John Vianney, 8.30am (7’50”)

Happy Fathers’ Day – so hate your mother and father!

Sunday 23 – season of the year (C); Fathers’ Day

In the Gospel today, we have this most striking response by Jesus as the crowds of people flock to hear him – ‘unless you hate your father, mother, sister, brother, wife/husband, children and even hate yourself, you cannot be my disciples.’ Clearly Jesus needs to go back to leadership training and reread those famous books on how to win friends and influence people. This Gospel was even more striking for me, since we celebrated this weekend with my family my parent’s Golden wedding anniversary. It seemed a little odd as I began Mass┬álast night with, “well, Mum and Dad, as we gather as a family to celebrate with you this incredible milestone in our lives, let me begin by being faithful to the Gospel today and declaring how much I hate you. Oh, and happy anniversary!”

So what is all this about then? What is Jesus asking of would-be disciples? What are we called to be and do? How can we find contentment, fulfillment and happiness? How do our relationships fit into this discipleship way of life?

Play MP3

Recorded at St John Vianney, 8.30am (5’10”)