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20oaHomily for Mass – Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

(Mary Immaculate Church, Annerley: Sunday 5:00pm)

10 August 2014

[Readings: Is 56:1, 6-7; Ps 66; Rom 11:13-15, 29-32; Mt 15:21-28]

 

On first hearing today’s Gospel, it’s easy to be shocked by what we hear! Did Jesus just say that?! Perhaps it’s just as shocking today as it was when it was first uttered … and perhaps that’s precisely the point. But, what if we could actually see the scene – where everyone was standing – and more importantly hear the voices – how did Our Lord say what he said – with what tone, and with what demeanor, and facial expression? Unfortunately, “[t]he Gospels do not come accompanied by tape recordings and photographs” [1] Whilst we don’t know these things, one thing we do know is that there was a very real link “between the Divine Perfection and the human nature assumed by the Word” in Jesus, and so we can know that Jesus’ face was kind, and his tone gentle. “The Sacred Heart was inevitably a gentleman in the special sense of the word defined by Blessed John Henry Newman: someone who never gives offence unnecessarily” [1].

Its quite possible that Our Lord was taking the known prejudices of his day, and using them in such a way as to challenge them: deliberately juxtaposing these thoughts with the reality of a woman trying to get help for her daughter.

The disciples wanted this Canaanite woman – a non-Israelite – sent away. She was causing a scene by shouting out after them. The disciples are obviously embarrassed. “Give her what she wants,-they say, - because she is shouting after us!”

It seems that almost as soon as Jesus starts speaking the woman is kneeling at his feet – and so Jesus must have seen her earnestness – and what he later says is her faith. As Jesus responds to her, he speaks those attitudes of his day that would have been accepted by many: he gives voice to the bigotry between Jew and gentile; chosen and not chosen – and starts giving the reasons why he shouldn’t help this non-Jewish woman. In other words, He starts saying what others would have been thinking.

The fact that he says what we might judge to be unthinkable only highlights the irony. “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the House of Israel.” … “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the house dogs” By this time the disciples – and anyone else who shared in the bigotry – must surely have realized that Jesus was having a go at them.

If Jesus could see the earnestness and faith of the Canaanite woman – she too could see what Jesus was really saying. And so when Jesus, with irony, compares the gentiles to dogs – she plays along, and enters into the dialogue that Jesus has begun – she knows he’s not putting her down – and so with equal irony she answers, “Ah yes, but even the house dogs eat the scraps that fall from their master’s table.”

And at that moment pennies must have been dropping everywhere! And Jesus says what he (most likely) knew the whole time, “Woman you have great faith. Let your wish be granted.” And, in one sense, thankfully he didn’t say that straight away. Because we would have lost this great teaching moment; the shock value of which means that this passage holds its power even to our day.

What are we taught then? We’re taught that God’s love is for all people. Whether other people tell us we’re not worthy, or whether we tell ourselves we are not worthy, this does not change God’s attitude to us. The truth is we are all unworthy! However, despite our unworthiness, God loves us and wants our good and our eternal salvation.

Secondly, in faith we need to come to the only one who can change things for us. “LORD, have pity on me;” “LORD, help me.” These were the prayers of the Canaanite woman. She inspires us to have the same faith – to come to the Lord, and to place before him our cares and our needs.

Thirdly, there is the element of perseverance. This element is perhaps the one that puzzles us more. We persevere not because God has to be beaten into submission to fulfil our desires. That’s not a loving God. We persevere because faith is a relationship with a personal God. God is not a vending machine. We persevere because we don’t always understand how God is answering our prayers; we persevere because it’s only over time that we start seeing things from a divine perspective, rather than just our own perspective (which can get blinkered and limited and selfish, perhaps without our even realizing it).

Let’s learn today from the relationship of faith between the Canaanite woman and Jesus. May we persevere in faith, day by day and year after year, growing ever more deeply in relationship with our Lord.

[1] Aidan Nichols, OP, Year of the Lord’s Favour, A Homiliary for the Roman Liturgy, Volume 3: The Temporal Cycle, Sundays Through the Year, [Balwyn, VIC: Freedom, 2012].

In our parish we are pleased  to offer for people both the Ordinary Form (English) and Extraordinary Form (Latin) of the Mass.

This Sunday, 17th August 2014, the 9:00am Mass at Mary Immaculate, Annerley will be a Missa Cantata, a form of the Latin Mass with a few more “bells and whistles” than the Low Mass that we normally have.

The servers have been practising, as has our wonderful choir that has been adding so much to our Masses.

The celebrant and homilist will be Father Paul Chandler.

assumption-of-mary-1642Homily for Mass – The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Mary Immaculate Church, Annerley

Friday 15th August, 2014 – 9:00am (School Mass)

Perhaps you’ve seen in the news the pictures of the terrible fighting happening in places like Iraq, Syria, and the Holy Land. We need to pray very hard for peace in those places – that people’s hearts will be changed to stop hurting other people. As we see those stories, we also realize that a lot of people have died in the fighting – and that’s very sad.

Through our lives we face the fact that our loved ones do die. Facing the death of people we know and love is probably one of the hardest things we have to face in life. It is natural and normal for us to be sad when those we love die; when they are no longer with us to do all the things we used to do with them.

The feast that we are celebrating today has something very special and important to say to us about death. We know that Jesus came to free us from the power of death. He came to bring us life: a good and abundant life here on earth, and life forever with God in heaven.

We know that Jesus did this by himself dying on the Cross, and then by being raised to life again by God the Father. And so, in Jesus himself, we see that death didn’t have the last word. Dying wasn’t the end of the story. He rose again, and he lives forever. Jesus is alive! And the risen Jesus is here with us!

Mary, Jesus’ earthly mother, was the first and most important disciple of his. More important even than the apostles. Mary loved God very much, and she said ‘yes’ to God when the angel came and told her that she was going to have a child who would be the Son of God. Not only did Mary say “yes” on that occasion in answer to the archangel, but she said “yes” to God all through her life. She always wanted to live the will of God: she always wanted to do exactly what God wanted her to do. And so, God had preserved her from the stain of sin from the very moment she came into existence.

And so when Mary was older, and when it was time for her to face death like we all have to, God once again showed how much He loved her. Immediately after Mary died, God took not just her soul, but her body as well to heaven. So now, Mary is with her Son, Jesus, in the glory heaven. She didn’t have to lie in the grave after death; she was assumed straight away – body and soul – to heaven.

This is certainly a wonderful thing that God did for Mary. But it’s not just good news for her, it’s good news for all of us as well. Like Mary, we are the disciples of her Son, Jesus. We too love God, and want to follow him. And we say that we are part of Jesus’ body on earth.

So, just as Jesus was raised from death to life, and just as Mary shared in that rising from death to life in her Assumption, this is what we can look forward to, and all who love God. Jesus has given us a promise: whoever believes in him, he will raise up on the last day.

And so, yes, we are sad when those we love die. They are no longer with us in the same way. Our lives are different without them being around. However, that sadness gives way to a much greater joy that Jesus has promised us. He wants to bring us all to live forever in the wonderful peace and joy of heaven – a place where all evil is gone, where no one is sad anymore, where no one is hurt, where there is no sickness, no disasters, and where we can never die again.

He has done this already for Mary, by assuming her – body and soul – into heaven at the end of her earthly life. As we celebrate this wonderful gift given to Mary, we pray that we may look forward, even now, to that same gift being given to us and to all our loved ones. That when our earthly life is done, Jesus will come to take us to our heavenly home – where we will see again all those whom we have known and loved here during this life.

Let us celebrate this Feast, therefore, with great hope and joy.

assumption-of-mary-1642Homily for Mass – The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Mary Immaculate Church, Annerley

Thursday 14th August, 2014 – 7:00pm

At the beginning of his homily for the Chrism Mass in Holy Week a couple of years ago, Pope emeritus Benedict XVI recalled a short story of the Russian writer Leo Tolstoy. In the story, a harsh sovereign asks his priests and wise men to show him God. But they’re not able to do it. A shepherd coming in from the fields then volunteers to take on the task. He tells the king that his eyes are not good enough to see God, but the king persists in wanting to know at least what God does. So the shepherd says, “Then we must exchange our clothes.” The king is reluctant, but curious, and so he consents. He gives his royal robes to the shepherd and has himself dressed in the poor man’s simple garments. “This is what God does,” says the shepherd.

St Paul writes that, indeed, the Son of God did not cling to his equality with God but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men; and being as all men are, he became humbler yet, even to accepting death on a cross.   The early fathers of the Church spoke about the sacred exchange that happened between God and people. God took on what was ours, SO THAT we might receive what was God’s and become similar to God.

The assumption of Mary into heaven is a wonderful fulfillment of the effects of this sacred exchange. Of all believers of Jesus, Mary is the most perfect. God had preserved her from all stain of sin from the moment of her conception. For her part, she engaged her will and completely aligned it with God’s will. Her response to the angel Gabriel encapsulates this: I am the handmaid of the Lord; let what you have said be done to me.

For the benefit of all who would follow Christ, the Lord has given the Assumption of his blessed Mother as a sign of what the effects of the exchange between God and mankind are: Mary is taken body and soul to heaven. Her assumption to heaven is meant to be a sign of hope and comfort for God’s people on our pilgrim way.

It is a reminder that whatever we experience here – whatever hardships and trials we might experience during this earthly life – this is not the end of the story. If it were, we would be a hopeless people. This is the message that is to be proclaimed as we stand at look at situations like Iraq. We are destined to be raised above all of this. God has become one of us, to make us like himself – God has made us so that we might share his life – the life of glory that the Blessed Trinity has enjoyed from all eternity. As the psalmist sings to God: You have made us little less than gods, with glory and honour you crown us!

The challenge to us, in all of this, is that the way to glory, the way to becoming like God and sharing the divine life fully, is to embrace the way of lowliness and self emptying. This is what Jesus, the Son of God, did. And this is what we see Mary doing – she who is the FIRST among all believers of Christ. We become divine, we advance to glory, the more we humble ourselves; the more we let go of our self-will, and cling to God’s perfect will.

Many important themes echo in today’s celebration. Every Sunday we profess in the Nicene Creed: I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. When we renew our Baptismal promises in the Apostles Creed we affirm that we believe in the resurrection of the body.

The Christian idea of heaven is not of some collection of floating, disembodied spirits or souls – but of a bodily life – in fact, a glorification of the bodily life we have already begun. Our life in heaven, in the fullness of God’s kingdom, has a real connection with the life we live now – such that it could not be conceivable without our bodies that are such an important part of who we are.

In the rites of preparation for the baptism of infants we ask God to make the little ones temples of his glory, and to send his Holy Spirit to dwell within them. God fills us – our bodily selves, with his spirit. We are dwelling places, temples, of the Holy Spirit. Our bodies are destined for eternal glory – Mary’s assumption, body and soul into heaven, is a sign and promise of the glory that awaits us.

Our bodily, earthly, lives are therefore important – and what we do in our bodies matters. Our bodies are the vehicles through which we receive God’s grace in the sacraments. Our daily living is not a trivial thing, marking time until the better life of heaven comes … our daily living, filled with God’s spirit, is made holy by God, and invested with a divine meaning.

WE are reminded today that we are body and soul. We are not just souls (and eternally we will not just be souls) and we are also not just bodies. For this reason human life can never just be reduced to the level of mere physical bodily existence. From the very moment of our conception, we are body and soul: called to share the divine life; body and soul created in God’s image. The life of the unborn child in the mother’s womb can never be spoken of as simply a body, a physical thing. It is a body and soul, a human person – divinely called into being.

The assumption of Mary into heaven turns our focus to the heavenly glory that awaits us and that God calls us to share … a life of joy, freed from the effects of sin and death that mark our lives here below. Whilst turning us to heaven, this feast also in a real way points out the sacredness of our bodily earthly life. A bodily life that will not be discarded in eternity, but rather glorified and perfected.

God has given to the church the visible gift of Mary’s assumption into heaven. Through it God says: this is why the Son took on humanity … that people might be brought to glory for all eternity.

As we offer Mass today, recalling the glorious event of Mary’s assumption into heaven, let’s be grateful for this sign of hope and comfort: let’s be reassured of what God wants for us [our eternal destiny]. For what the Lord has done in and for Mary, the Lord wants also to do for us.

adriansharp:

Our Lady of the Assumption, pray for us!

Originally posted on Annerley Ekibin Catholic Parish:

assumption-of-mary-1642Our Lady has interceded on our behalf before to help us overcome the threat of evil.  We recall the Battle of Lepanto and the Battle of Vienna.

Having witnessed the recent slaughter of so many by the Islamic State, let us join together in imploring Our Lady’s intercession: praying for those who have died, both Christian and Muslim, and praying that a regime capable of so much evil will be overcome.

Let’s storm heaven in prayer as we honour Our Blessed Mother in her glorious  Assumption into heaven [August 15th].

In our parish of Annerley Ekibin, we can extend our prayer for these intentions before our Eucharistic Lord in the weekly all-night vigil of Eucharistic Exposition and Adoration, from 6:00pm Thursday to 6:45am Friday [just before the Friday 7:00am Mass] – at Saint Elizabeth’s Chapel, Effingham Street, Tarragindi.

See here for the Mass times for the Solemnity of the Assumption

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http://stephencuyos.comHomily for Mass – Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

(Mary Immaculate Church, Annerley: Sunday 7:30am, 9:00am & 5:00pm)

10 August 2014

(Readings: 1 Kings 19:9, 11-13; Ps 84; Rom 9:1-5; Mt 14:22-33)

 

In our readings today we can find plenty of stuff that we can relate to as we struggle on through the challenges of life.

In the first reading we have the story of Elijah. To understand this story we really need to take up our Bibles and read this bits before and after what we’ve just heard in the First Reading. Elijah the prophet had been working hard defending the true faith against the pagan prophets. He’d actually been quite successful. This success, though, infuriated Queen Jezebel – and she threatens to kill him. He flees and that’s why he ends up on Horeb, the mountain of God. He’s there in fear for his life; but he’s also exhausted, and confused about what he’s meant to do next. Upon reaching the cave, God asks him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” And Elijah pours out his soul … he has come to the end of his tether – he’s the only one left [doing God’s will], and now they want to kill him.

And then the encounter happens that we heard in our first reading: the wind, the earthquake, the fire – but then the voice of the Lord in “the sound of sheer silence.” God then again asks Elijah why he’s there, and Elijah explains again. But then the Lord gives directions to Elijah and what he’s to do.

The story is a beautiful description of how God comes to meet us, particularly in our darkness and confusion. Humanly speaking we’d say that Elijah was “running away” from his problems – but in this instance, God helps him to run away, because God provided food so that Elijah was able to make the long journey to Mount Horeb. And when Elijah gets far away, in the solitude of the mountain, God comes to speak to him.

The story reminds us that we need to “get away” – we need times of silence and solitude so that God can minister to us. It’s why it’s such a good practice to make a spiritual retreat, where we physically go away from our normal activities, even for just a short time. But it doesn’t have to just be a physical removing of ourselves. Right where we are, we can “enter that private room” of our hearts and be with the Lord. Something that was said of Blessed John Paul II was that in the midst of his busy activity, his pastoral visits here and there, he could be right in the midst of all sorts of activity and be able to – then and there – enter into deep prayer and contemplation – he was able to “go to that place” where he could speak with God, and God could speak with him.

This theme is reinforced in today’s Gospel. We note that the beginning of today’s section indicates that Jesus himself had sent the disciples away in the boat while he went up the mountain by himself to pray [even our Lord retreated]. Later, when the boat is struggling because of the waves and the wind, Jesus walks on the water towards his friends. Peter, inspired by the sight asks Jesus to allow him also to walk on the water. But we see that the moment Peter takes his attention off Jesus, and starts thinking more about the strong wind, he begins sinking.

It’s so easy for us to become obsessed by the things around us. We can become totally focused on the problems we face, and on how we’re going to solve them. We soon realize how powerless we are, and so we become afraid. All the while, though, we’ve taken our eyes off God – we’ve forgotten that God alone can save.

This again reminds us that we have to keep our eyes focused on Christ. Our world holds up as values “self-sufficiency” and “independence,” but if we take that too far, we end up like Elijah and Peter … we end up afraid and in the dark when our own insuffiency becomes apparent to us. We start sinking beneath the waves.

It’s so important that we come to Jesus every day. Physically, we can come to him in the Church where we find his sacramental presence. Every day we can worship him in the sacrifice of the Mass and receive him in Holy Communion. And if we can’t physically come to him, we can still go to him spiritually, wherever we are.

Brothers and sisters, let’s savour this hour that we have now with the Lord as we offer Mass. In this time of quiet and reflection, away from our daily toil and tasks, let’s ask the Lord to give us a heart that is capable of really trusting Him, able to recognize Him and follow Him. May we have a heart like that of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a heart that never remains absorbed in its own sadness and weakness, but rather a heart that turns always to the Lord with trust.

Year A - 17th Sunday (OT)Homily for Mass – Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

(Mary Immaculate Church, Annerley: Sunday 7:30am, 9:00am & 5:00pm)

3 August 2014

(Readings: Is 55:1-3; Ps 144; Rom 8:35, 37-39; Mt 14:13-21)

 

A story is told about four men who were adrift on the Atlantic Ocean in a lifeboat, near the equator. There were so thirsty that they were trying to squeeze moisture from the pieces of canvas on their small lifeboat. When rescuers finally arrived, the men were very weak from dehydration. After gradually reviving them, the rescuers informed the men of an incredible irony: All the while they were fighting for a few drops of moisture to drink, they had actually been floating on drinkable water! And that’s because they were near the Amazon River – a river so huge that it pushes fresh water far out into the ocean. The men could have reached down and drank the water that was all around them.

In many ways that story is a parable for many people in our world today – people who are thirsty, but unaware of a readily accessible source of fresh water. When Pope Benedict XVI visited Sydney for World Youth Day, he said in his homily at the final Sunday Mass: In so many of our societies, side by side with material prosperity, a spiritual desert is spreading: an interior emptiness, an unnamed fear, a quiet sense of despair. How many of our contemporaries have built broken and empty cisterns in a desperate search for meaning…?

So, what is the source of fresh water, living water? The Pope answers the question in a single word: JESUS. Only with Jesus and the power of his Holy Spirit will we find the goodness, beauty and truth that we desire. Only he can give love that endures, and real freedom.

What’s more, what Jesus offers us costs us nothing! Come, though you have no money, come! cries out the prophet Isaiah. St Paul says NOTHING can come between us and the love of Christ. And he repeats, NOTHING can EVER come between us and the love of God. Do we let things get in the way? Or have things clouded our vision of God’s love?

The miracle of today’s Gospel shows that the age of the Messiah has begun. When the people of the Old Testament looked forward to the coming of the Messiah, they used the image of the messianic banquet: when the Messiah came, then there would be a lavish banquet at which God would feed all people; there would be food in abundance – good food, fine wine – no one would go hungry.

At first the disciples are anxious about how they could feed such a crowd – and rightly so! Impossible for them to do alone. However, with Jesus’ blessing, their efforts of sharing the little food they had achieve much more than they could have imagined.

So many of the problems we see in our world could be remedied if people came together, and if we shared what God has given us – our resources, our time, our love. And even when things seem impossible, if we do something and seek the Lord to bless and guide what we’re doing – God will help us find a way – God will make possible even what seems impossible.

And yet something keeps us apart – apart from each other, apart from Jesus. Something keeps us on our own. Something keeps us from dipping our hand and drinking from the living water of Jesus. This is what the Pope meant when he spoke of our societies, where alongside material prosperity, a spiritual desert is spreading: an interior emptiness, an unnamed fear, a quiet sense of despair.

The Gospel story of today has embedded within it echoes of the eucharist. Jesus TAKES the loaves and fishes; he BLESSES them, BREAKS them, and GIVES them … the same actions he will perform at the Last Supper when the Eucharistic meal is given to the church. And this highlights how important our gathering for the eucharist is for us to enter into the kingdom of Jesus, and to further that Kingdom in our world.

Here in the eucharist we are invited: COME! eat and drink! Partake of the meal which points us to the banquet of God’s kingdom. The eucharist gathers us together: instead of being isolated individuals, we realize that we are brothers and sisters, united by love. The eucharist keeps us from living with that unnamed fear: we are not alone … and NOTHING, NOT EVER, can come between us and the love of God. In coming together, and in sharing our lives, we realize that with the Lord’s blessing we can achieve things that we could NOT do on our own: we can help his kingdom to become a reality in our world.

Let us then enter into this eucharist with joy: let us drink from the living water of Jesus; may we be strengthened to share his life giving water – the love of God – with the world around us – so that they too may know, with us, the joy, the deep peace, of life lived in God’s kingdom.

 

 

 

 

 

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Annerley Ekibin’s Parish Newsletter for this week can be found here: This week’s parish newsletter.

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First Saturday Mass & Devotions

2nd August, 2014

9am Our Lady’s, Everton Park

Confessions and Rosary from 8am

Celebrant : Fr Michael Grace

Contact: Mrs Lucy Robinson
Opus Angelorum Inc.
0431 875 741

Saturday 26th July 2014

Saturday 8:00am Mary Immaculate, Annerley – Father A. Sharp

Saturday 6:00pm Saint John Fisher, Tarragindi – Father P. Chandler

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Sunday 27th July 2014

Sunday 7:30am Mary Immaculate, Annerley – Father A. Sharp

Sunday 9:00am Mary Immaculate, Annerley – Father A. Sharp (Solemn Mass [English])

Sunday 9:00am Saint John Fisher, Tarragindi – Father P. Chandler

Sunday 5:00pm Mary Immaculate, Annerley – Father A. Sharp

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Find our Parish Newsletters (and other parish news) here:  http://adriansharp.wordpress.com/category/annerley-ekibin-parish/

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Year A - 16th Sunday (OT)Homily for Mass – Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

(Saint John Fisher Church, Tarragindi: Saturday 6:00pm;  Sunday 9:00am)

1/20 July 2014

(Readings: Wis 12:13, 16-19; Ps 85; Rom 8:26-27; Mt 13:24-43)

As we gather in prayer [tonight] we can’t fail to recall the terrible tragedy and loss of life in the Malaysian airliner attack. We pray for the eternal repose of the souls of all who have lost their lives … and we pray for their families, loved ones and friends, and all who mourn following this dreadful event. We pray for resolutions to the conflicts in that part of the world – and indeed in any other places too – facing war and strife at this time. We think also of the continuing troubles in the Holy Land, and pray for peace there.

The first parable of Jesus that we hear in today’s Gospel has an important lesson: the wheat and the weeds grow up together. The darnel that Jesus speaks of was a weed that looked just like the wheat. I’m not a great gardener, but from the little bit of gardening I’ve done over the years, particularly when growing plants from seeds – I’ve always been amazed how certain weeds will appear that look just like what you’ve planted. You can’t tell at first, and you can’t pull them out straight away, because you’re not quite sure if it’s what you planted or if it’s a weed. You have to wait and see.

Jesus says that in this world we can expect that weeds will appear along with the plants that are meant to be growing. Alongside those who truly are trying to live the way God wants, there will be others who are blocking God’s grace. Wherever Christ makes advances, drawing souls to himself, the devil tries to thwart this goodness.

The Church herself is at once holy, and yet always in need of purification. The church never lacks problems and is wounded by the sins of her ministers and the failings of other members. Within our own hearts, even though we make progress in our human and Christian maturity, we can still suffer the weakness of sinful tendencies. —we know well that the wheat and the weeds grow up side by side.

In a sense, this situation is an example of God’s mercy. The book of wisdom in our first reading says that God is lenient to all, … governing us with great lenience … giving his sons and daughters the good hope that after sin He will grant repentance. The weeds aren’t ripped out straight away just in case they aren’t weeds at all. And while plants can’t change, people can. God grants the grace of repentance: someone might in fact be an enemy of Christ today, but after conversion and repentance, they can become one of his greatest followers. We think of Saint Paul.

There is a temptation to think that if we are following Christ, then everything in our lives should go smoothly. In fact, many people loose faith when troubles come, because they wonder how God could permit bad things to happen in the lives of good people. But to think that everything should go smoothly just because we believe in Jesus is to miss the point somewhat: and we need to hear Jesus’ words in today’s Gospel.

St Faustina, the Polish nun chosen by Jesus to promote devotion to the Divine Mercy described how her own prayer life was plagued by weeds among the wheat. She wrote in her diary: “In prayer I always find light and strength of spirit, although there are moments so trying and hurtful that it is sometimes difficult to imagine that these things can happen in a convent. Strangely, God sometimes allows them, but always in order to manifest or develop virtue in a soul. That is the reason for trials.”

It is part of life that we will experience things that are “trying and hurtful.” The wheat and the weeds co-exist. It’s good to be realistic about this.

So while it is trying and hurtful to see divisions in the church, we can realize that when we try to build unity and communion between people, the Evil One will try to damage that work. It can be very disheartening when we see priests and other leaders in the church fail, and cause great scandal by their actions. And yet, Jesus warns us that the wheat and weeds grow together. To have this realization doesn’t make the weeds any less weeds – but if we realize that the weeds will be there, we can be more realistic and courageous in facing up to challenges.

If we just think about ourselves: while we try to live good lives and do what God wants, we shouldn’t throw in the towel if we sin. We can’t just give up and say, “well clearly I’m not meant to do what’s right.” No, God permits the wheat and the weeds to co-exist for a time – so that it can be clear which are truly the wheat – and so that the wheat may triumph, and the darnel, the weeds, safely removed at the end and destroyed.

As St Faustina suggests, God allows these trying and hurtful things to show or develop virtue in a soul. When we see what appears to be weeds, when we see what appears to be wrong, we can choose all the more to live as God wants. And I think one very practical application of this is that if God is patient enough to allow the wheat and the weeds to co-exist, we need to show a certain leniency, mildness and mercy as well.

This means a certain patience to ourselves – not to be overwhelmed by disappointment when we sin and fail – but to open ourselves to God’s mercy and forgiveness, and to try again. And this patience needs to be extended to others too. If we grant to ourselves the possibility of repentance, we need to allow others this possibility too.

As we worship God today, and receive Jesus who brings us God’s mercy, may God turn and take pity on us, and may He help us to become more and more people of mercy and compassion, as He is.

 

This week’s parish newsletter:

2014 07 20 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A

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Saturday 19th July 2014

Saturday 8:00am Mary Immaculate, Annerley – Father P. Chandler (Low Mass -Extraordinary Form [Latin])

Saturday 6:00pm Saint John Fisher, Tarragindi – Father A. Sharp

Sunday 20th July 2014

Sunday 7:30am Mary Immaculate, Annerley – Father P. Chandler

Sunday 9:00am Mary Immaculate, Annerley – Father P. Chandler (Low Mass -Extraordinary Form [Latin])

Sunday 9:00am Saint John Fisher, Tarragindi – Father A. Sharp

Sunday 5:00pm Mary Immaculate, Annerley – Father P. Chandler

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Year A - 15th Sunday (OT)Homily for Mass – Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

(Mary Immaculate Church, Annerley: Sunday 7:30am, 9:00am & 5:00pm)

13 July 2014

(Readings: Isaiah 55:10-11; Ps 64; Rom 8:18-23; Mt 13:1-23)

A commentary I read some years ago on today’s Gospel always sticks in my head. The writer pictured the scene: Jesus gets into a boat because of the crowds. The people all stand on the beach, and Jesus talks to them. From Jesus’ vantage point, quite possibly he could see a farmer in the field, sowing seed. That sight becomes the springboard for what he says.

With our modern ears, when we hear of sowing seed, we probably imagine a machine doing the job with great accuracy. Modern farmers can probably even give you data on the number of seeds planted, and the success rate. But what Jesus saw was more likely a man carrying a bag of seed over his shoulder, walking along the field, throwing the seed out. We might say, almost wastefully, not seeming to care where it goes.

Such an image naturally gives rise to the parable that Jesus tells: with all the different things that happens to the seed when thrown out in such a way as that. Jesus says that this is how God sends out the word of His kingdom.

There is a lavishness, a generosity, to some minds a “wastefulness” in the way God sends out his word to the earth. Jesus says elsewhere that his Father causes the sun to rise on good and bad people alike; and the rains to fall on the just and unjust. We see in this God’s desire for all people to be saved. For all people to turn to him. And yet, as Jesus points out, the reality is that many are called, few are chosen.

God sends out his word to the earth liberally, generously, freely. Just imagine that seed been thrown out into the wind. And yet, where will it land? On what type of soil. And this is where our contribution comes in. God’s word is always full of power, always effective IF it has some opening to get into our hearts.

God is the greatest respecter of our freedom. Just look around! God doesn’t force. Pope Benedict said in a homily on this Gospel: “It is necessary that each person freely accept the truth of the love of God. He is Love and Truth, and love as well as truth never impose themselves: They knock on the door of the heart and mind and, where they enter, bring peace and joy. This is the way God reigns; this is his plan of salvation.” … Love as well as truth never impose themselves.

Jesus told us that he and the Father wish to make their home in us. We’re reminded that Jesus stands at the door of our heart and knocks. St Ambrose writes: “Open your heart, meet the sun of eternal light that enlightens every man. That true light indeed shines on all; but if anyone has closed his windows, he will rob himself of the eternal light. Christ too is shut out if you close the door of your mind. Although he is able to enter, he does not wish to rush in uninvited. He does not wish to force the reluctant.”

And so we have the parable of today’s Gospel. The state of the “soil” of our heart and soul play a part in whether God’s word is able to bear fruit in us, and to what extent.

I think a wonderful piece of Good News is that the sower of the seed of God’s Word doesn’t stop sowing. That seed is constantly being thrown out. Even if we might have blocked the seed of God’s word in the past, even if it might have been carried off because we didn’t understand it, God gives us time to cultivate the soil of our hearts. God’s word is continually being presented to us … the sacred liturgy opens up the treasures of the scriptures. God’s word comes to us in the teachings of the church, faithfully interpreting the Word of the scriptures and the living tradition of faith.

There’s no reason why God’s word can’t produce the fruit in us that God intends: thirty, sixty even a hundredfold. But God doesn’t force us – He respects our freedom. Jesus doesn’t rush into our hearts uninvited or force himself on the reluctant. We need to till the soil of our hearts. Sunday Mass, frequent reception of Holy Communion and the other sacraments especially the Sacrament of Penance. Our daily prayers. Our reading of scripture, our learning the treasures of our faith. Our daily practicing of Christian virtues – all of these things prepare our hearts and minds to receive the seed of God’s word, and prepare the conditions for that seed to take root, and to bear the fruit God intends. May our celebration of Mass tonight encourage us on this journey and help each of be the saints of the current day that God calls us to be.

 

 

This week’s parish newsletter:

2014 07 13, 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A

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Saturday 12th July 2014

Saturday 8:00am Mary Immaculate, Annerley – Father A. Sharp

Saturday 6:00pm Saint John Fisher, Tarragindi – Father P. Chandler

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Sunday 13th July 2014

Sunday 7:30am Mary Immaculate, Annerley – Father A. Sharp

Sunday 9:00am Mary Immaculate, Annerley – Father A. Sharp (Solemn Mass [English])

Sunday 9:00am Saint John Fisher, Tarragindi – Father P. Chandler

Sunday 5:00pm Mary Immaculate, Annerley – Father A. Sharp

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Jesus come to meHomily for Mass – Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

(Saint John Fisher Church, Tarragindi: Saturday 6:00pm;  Sunday 9:00am)

5/6 July 2014

(Readings: Zech 9:9-10; Ps 144; Rom 8:9, 11-13; Mt 11:25-30)

Today in Australia we celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday, and today marks the beginning of NAIDOC week. 2008 will long be remembered as the year our Prime Minister made the national apology to the Indigenous people of our land, thereby acknowledging the harm that had been done by policies and practices of former times. Saying Sorry is an important step in the ongoing work of reconciliation among all peoples of our country. Today it is more than appropriate, then, to acknowledge our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander brothers and sisters, and especially the traditional custodians of this land on which we gather; we offer prayers today for all of us who call Australia home, that we might always work together in respect, seeking the good of all.

In our Gospel today Jesus promises something that I’m sure all of us would like: rest for our souls. I’m sure we know, in our lives, the opposite of what Jesus speaks about: restlessness. When we look back over our lives we can probably see those times when we were rest-less: when we hadn’t found where we were going, when there wasn’t a peacefulness in our hearts. When we haven’t found our place in life – or when through the choices we make we know we aren’t on the path we should be on – there can be an agitation in our hearts; we feel that things aren’t right; we know we need to do something about it.

Jesus issues an invitation: COME TO ME he says, and you will find inner peace … your soul will rest – it will be calm, not agitated, not restless. LEARN FROM ME, Jesus says, for I am gentle and humble.

I think this is an important part of the Gospel that we need to hear and be reminded of. Christianity is often characterized by action: Christians are known for their ACTIONS, what they do … we think of key Christian actions of LOVE, FORGIVENESS, SEEKING JUSTICE. To be Christian is to DO or not do things. Christianity is expressed in practical action.

But prior to any action, and after any action, to be a Christian is to be in a living, personal relationship with our Master, Jesus Christ. And so Jesus’ invitation through St Matthew is vitally important: COME TO ME! LEARN FROM ME! Especially if we are burdened, weighed down, restless, searching … we must come to HIM whose yoke is easy to bear, and whose burden is light.

In our second reading today St Paul encourages us to reflect on our lives. Paul knows that sometimes our interests are not in spiritual things at all. So many things can clamour for our attention – and so many things can come to rule our lives – things which don’t need to be obeyed at all. St Paul reminds us that the Spirit of God is living in each of us, and that Spirit wants to lead us to true life – to the things that really matter.

The invitation is always held out to us that we will become more aware of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us. And amidst all the many things that call out for our attention in life, and that draw us to follow them, we’re invited to hear again, or perhaps for the first time, the VOICE of Jesus, speaking personally to each of us: COME TO ME, LEARN FROM ME.

When we hear that voice, and when we try to discover what Jesus wants us to DO in our lives, then we find a peacefulness – a restfulness in our inner selves – a peace that can only come from listening to the voice of the Lord, and learning from him.

The more we draw closer to Jesus, the more our lives will be transformed – the more the Spirit can give life to us. Imagine: if all hearts drew near to Jesus, then the prophecy of Zechariah in our first reading would come true: the weapons of war would be gone; and peace would come for all nations. What a wonderful thing to imagine: the empire of Christ, who is gentle and humble in heart, his empire stretching from sea to sea, from the River to the ends of the earth!

We must start with ourselves. Today Jesus says to each of us: COME TO ME … LEARN FROM ME. The tools have been given to us … our personal prayer, our reading of scripture, the Mass and the Sacraments of the Church; and the support and encouragement we give to and receive from other followers of Jesus.

The heart of Jesus, filled with love, draws us to himself. Let us come to him, and let us find the peace, and the restfulness, that we can only FIND by going to him, by learning from him and following his ways.

 

Oratory logoIf you would like to keep up-to-date with news from the Brisbane Oratory in Formation, sign up to our email list here.

The Saint Thomas Catholic Community have been celebrating their patronal feast day over the last few days at Mary Immaculate Church, Annerley.  This community is part of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church.  Most people are familiar with the more “common” Latin Catholic Church, but the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church is one of the Eastern Catholic Churches in communion with the Roman Apostolic See.

It is certainly an eye-catching sight to drive along Ipswich Road right now!

Congratulations and blessings to the Saint Thomas Community on your feast day!

IMG_1944See the full Flickr set here.

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Shirley is away later in the week, so we have an early newsletter this week:

2014 07 06 Newsletter, 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A

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Saturday 8:00am Mary Immaculate, Annerley – Father P. Chandler (Low Mass -Extraordinary Form [Latin])

Saturday 6:00pm Saint John Fisher, Tarragindi – Father A. Sharp

Sunday 7:30am Mary Immaculate, Annerley – Father P. Chandler

Sunday 9:00am Mary Immaculate, Annerley – Father P. Chandler (Low Mass -Extraordinary Form [Latin])

Sunday 9:00am Saint John Fisher, Tarragindi – Father A. Sharp

Sunday 3:00pm Mary Immaculate, Annerley – Father L. Yanga (Sudanese Community Mass)

Sunday 5:00pm Mary Immaculate, Annerley – Father P. Chandler

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pier giorgioAll are invited as we anticipate the feast of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, patron of Frassati Australia and co-patron of the Brisbane Oratory in Formation, with Solemn Mass in the Ordinary Form, at Mary Immaculate Church, 616 Ipswich Road, Annerley, on Thursday 3rd July 2014 at 6:30pm.

Link: Spiritual Visit to Bl. Pier Giorgio’s tomb

frassati australia logoOratory logo

Saturday 8:00am Mary Immaculate, Annerley – Father P. Chandler

Saturday 6:00pm Saint John Fisher, Tarragindi – Father J. Gillen SM

Sunday 7:30am Mary Immaculate, Annerley – Father P. Chandler

Sunday 9:00am Mary Immaculate, Annerley – Father P. Chandler (Extraordinary Form [Latin])

Sunday 9:00am Saint John Fisher, Tarragindi – Father J. Gillen SM

Sunday 5:00pm Mary Immaculate, Annerley – Father P. Chandler

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Find our Parish Newsletters (and other parish news) here:  http://adriansharp.wordpress.com/category/annerley-ekibin-parish/

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Shirley is away later in the week, so we have an early newsletter this week:

2014 06 29 Newsletter, Sts Peter and Paul

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corpus christi 2014Homily for Mass – The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi) (Year A)

(Mary Immaculate Church, Annerley: Sunday 7:30am, 9:00am, 5:00pm)

22 June 2014

(Readings: Deut 8:2-3, 14-16; Ps 147; 1 Cor 10:16-17; Jn 6:51-58)

I commend to your prayer the Litany of the Most Holy Eucharist, composed by Saint Peter Julian Eymard which you’ll find on the newsletter insert this weekend. Perhaps you might pray it as a thanksgiving following Mass today before you go home. It’s an opportune moment to also commend to you the practice of making a thanksgiving after holy communion. Many saints attest that the easiest time to pray is in those minutes after holy communion when Our Lord is sacramentally with us. And so we should make the most of that opportunity to linger in prayer, both when we get back to our seat after Communion, and also in those few minutes after the end of Mass. (At the 9am Mass: and I must add that it is beautifully startling to see almost the entire congregation at this Mass kneel down after the final hymn to make a thanksgiving!)

Also, on the reverse side of the Litany you’ll find some reminders of our Eucharistic disciplines, which we should all be aware of. But just to add a couple, if you are not kneeling to receive Communion, we remember that we make a bow of reverence to Our Lord as we approach Him just before receiving Communion from the minister. Also, if we are receiving Our Lord in the hand, it is the ancient custom of the Church that we make a throne for Our Lord, with one hand cupped under the other. It’s also good to remember that in the new Mass, the English Mass, the communicant has the choice to decide if they wish to receive Communion standing or kneeling, or on the tongue or in the hand. We also note that if you are at the old Mass, the Extraordinary Form, Communion must be received on the tongue, and Communion is also received whilst kneeling, unless you can’t kneel.

Today is the 750th anniversary of the institution of the feast of Corpus Christi – the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. Today’s feast gives us an opportunity to reflect on the awesome mystery inaugurated on the first Holy Thursday, when Christ was at the supper table with his chosen band, and having taken bread and wine, gave to them not bread and wine, but his Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, and commanded them to renew what he himself had done until the end of time, in memory of his parting hour.

For two thousand years, in obedience to Christ, Christians have gathered to celebrate the eucharist in memory of him. Through his very words – words from heaven – the bread and wine become heavenly gifts … food for our earthly pilgrimage.

The first reading today recalls how God led his people for forty years in the wilderness, feeding them with manna from heaven. In our own wilderness, our sojourn here below, the Lord continues to feed us with bread from heaven … the very Body and Blood of His Son.

In the Psalm we note that the Lord feeds us with “finest wheat” and he also feeds us with his word which he has sent out to the earth, making known to us his laws and decrees. God’s word is nourishment to us. That is why the Liturgy of the Word is such an important part of the Sacrifice of the Mass. God nourishes us with his Word, and he feeds us with the Body and Blood of His Son, who was his Word made flesh for us. The Word and Eucharist are inseparable, for they are one. The Son of God made flesh was the Word of the Father, and so we receive this Word with our eyes and ears in the Scriptures, but also as food in Holy Communion. The Word precedes the Sacrament because Christ gave himself first in words and actions, and then later gave himself as Sacrament, under the form of bread and wine. One of Psalms naturally has us sing, “Taste and see the goodness of the Lord!”

The collect of today’s Mass prays that we will always experience in our lives the fruits of redemption. One of the fruits of being redeemed is that our participation in the offering of Christ of himself to the Father leads us to live a life of self-emptying love. The prayer over the offerings reminds us that one of the fruits of the eucharist is the gift of unity and peace. As we gather at the one altar, and pray over the one bread and one cup, we are led to be the one body of Christ, united in his love so that we truly become, one body, one spirit in him.

Participation in the Mass is such a blessing to us. It is of inestimable value for us. That is why the Church enjoins on us to participate in the Sacrifice of the Mass on all Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation. Further, whilst not being obligatory, we have the possibility of participating in Mass and being nourished by this heavenly food on weekdays. You might consider trying to go to Mass on some weekday in the week ahead and in subsequent weeks. The best thing we can ever do on any day is to participate in Mass, and unless prevented, to receive Our Lord sacramentally in Holy Communion.

Saint Augustine challenged his hearers, when reflecting on their reception of Communion, he said, “Be what you receive.” So let’s ourselves reflect on what effect receiving Jesus in holy communion has on us. With Him coming sacramentally into us, how can we be what we receive?

O Sacrament most holy! O Sacrament divine!
All praise and all thanksgiving be every moment thine!

 

 

This Wonderful Sacrament: A great message for today’s Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.

 

This week’s parish newsletter:

2014 06 22 Newsletter, Body and Blood of Christ, Year A

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Find previous Parish Newsletters (and other parish news) here:  http://adriansharp.wordpress.com/category/annerley-ekibin-parish/

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Saturday 8:00am Mary Immaculate, Annerley – Father P. Chandler

Saturday 6:00pm Saint John Fisher, Tarragindi – Father P. Chandler

Sunday 7:30am Mary Immaculate, Annerley – Father A. Sharp

Sunday 9:00am Mary Immaculate, Annerley – Father A. Sharp (Solemn Mass, English)

Sunday 9:00am Saint John Fisher, Tarragindi – Father P. Chandler

Sunday 5:00pm Mary Immaculate, Annerley – Father A. Sharp

trinity aHomily for Mass – The Most Holy Trinity (Year A)

(Saint John Fisher Church, Tarragindi: Saturday 6:00pm)

14 June 2014

(Readings: Exodus 34:4-6, 8-9; Dan 3:52-56; 2 Cor 13:11-13; Jn 3:16-18)

Of all the feast days of the Church year, the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity is quite unique. Unlike Christmas Day, Easter Sunday, the Ascension and Pentecost, we are not celebrating an “event” in this feast of the Trinity. This feast day, also, was not known to the early Church. In fact it didn’t arise until the year 1323, by which time the Church had taken centuries to reflect on the nature of God.

It’s also no accident that the feast is celebrated today, the Sunday after Pentecost. The Easter season is the high-point of the Church year. From Easter day until Pentecost Sunday we reflect on the central mysteries of our faith … the saving death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the acceptable sacrifice which brought peace and life to the world; his ascension into heaven, and the sending of the Holy Spirit, bringing to birth the community of the Church, a community charged with the task of continuing the mission of God in the world until the end of time.

Having celebrated all of that, on today’s feast we step back for a moment, and ask the question: who is the God who did all this? We needn’t be worried if we struggle to answer that question quickly and neatly, because it took the Church centuries to be able to articulate it. Only in sustained contemplation, prayer, and reflection are we able to put the pieces together. Today all of us are invited, just for a moment, to be theologians and contemplatives, as we reflect on: who is the God who has done all this for us?

Saint John tells us that this God is the God who loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost but may have eternal life. “On the Cross [of Jesus] we see the Holy Trinity for what it is” (1). There we see the Son’s sacrificial love; his complete obedience to His Father; offering his life to the very end for the salvation of the world, the purpose for which he was sent, out of the Father’s goodness and mercy. We see the Son’s offering received, and the Father raises His Son from death to life and glory.

But then, we see the power of Christ’s sacrifice being poured on the disciples of Jesus in the first Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit – that is, the love of the Father and the Son, is given to the Church coming to birth, a loving power which is ceaselessly made available to the Church, again, until the end of the world.

The God who is “behind all this” is self-communicating, self-giving divine Love. God is Love. God is perfect relationship.

When God made human beings, they shared this perfect love. Before the fall, our ancestors knew God, and enjoyed this love. In the Garden of Eden, the enjoyment of the love of God was unspoilt. However, the first people were deceived, and used their freedom as God had told them not to, and so the enjoyment of the love of God was spoilt. The coming of God among us in Jesus Christ had as its purpose to return us to paradise; to return us to that state so that we can fully enjoy the love of God.

The Church’s mission is to help this come about – to cooperate with God the Father’s work of reconciling the world to Himself in His Son, in the love of the Holy Spirit. Our lives, having been baptized into the life, death and resurrection of Christ, our lives are to mirror the life of the Most Holy Trinity. The life of the community of disciples, the Church, is meant to be an image of the life of communion of the divine persons of the Trinity. Saint Paul urges us towards the perfection that is found in God; he says, “help one another,” “Be united; live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you.”

We are called in our lives to reflect the inner life of God, “a God of tenderness and compassion, slow to anger, rich in kindness and faithfulness.”

As we take a moment on this feast of the Most Holy Trinity, to reflect on the God who is behind everything we profess and believe, let’s pray that we will be more and more caught up into the divine Love of the Blessed Trinity; that the Love which is God will be the ground of our lives, and that we will be filled with that Love and share that life and love more and more with others.

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(1) Aidan Nichols, OP. Year of the Lord’s Favour, A Homiliary for the Roman Liturgy, Volume One: The Sanctoral Cycle, pp. 205-209.

 

 

Saturday 8:00am Mary Immaculate, Annerley – Father A. Sharp

Saturday 6:00pm Saint John Fisher, Tarragindi – Father A. Sharp

Sunday 7:30am Mary Immaculate, Annerley – Father P. Chandler

Sunday 9:00am Mary Immaculate, Annerley – Father P. Chandler (Low Mass)

Sunday 9:00am Saint John Fisher, Tarragindi – Father J. Gillen

Sunday 5:00pm Mary Immaculate, Annerley – Father P. Chandler

Saturday 8:00am Mary Immaculate, Annerley – Father A. Sharp

Saturday 6:00pm Saint John Fisher, Tarragindi – Father A. Sharp

Sunday 7:30am Mary Immaculate, Annerley – Father P. Chandler

Sunday 9:00am Mary Immaculate, Annerley – Father P. Chandler (Low Mass)

Sunday 9:00am Saint John Fisher, Tarragindi – Father J. Gillen

Sunday 5:00pm Mary Immaculate, Annerley – Father P. Chandler

This week’s parish newsletter:

2014 06 15 Newsletter, Trinity Sunday, Year A

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School holiday movie event

School holiday movie event July 2 20142014 Holiday Movie Flyer 2

First Saturday Devotion Pamphletour lady of fatima image and text may 13 1917

corpus christi procession 2The 2014 Corpus Christi Procession in Brisbane will be held on Sunday 22nd June at Nudgee Junior, Kate Street, Indooroopilly, at 2.00pm, with Procession, Sermon and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

2014 06 08 Newsletter, Pentecost Sunday, Year A

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pentecostHomily for Mass – Pentecost Sunday (Year A)

(Mary Immaculate Church, Annerley: Sunday 7:30am, 9:00am, & 11:00am)

8 June 2014

(Readings: Acts 2:1-11; Ps 103; 1 Cor 12:3-7, 12-13; Jn 20:19-23)

Today’s Solemnity of Pentecost brings the fifty days of the Easter season to its conclusion and pinnacle. Today’s feast, we say, is the feast of the birth of the Church. The whole mystery of Jesus coming among humankind, the second person of the Blessed Trinity – the Son of God – taking flesh … living among us; coming to his Passion, Death and Resurrection – through which we are saved – all of this reaches its pinnacle today, when the third person of the Blessed Trinity, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of love which had existed from all eternity between God the Father and God the Son, when that Spirit is sent on the community of Christ’s disciples.

This is what makes the Church different from any other human organization: not just different in its purpose, its activities and its organization, but it was on the Church that God Himself descended and remains: the eternal Spirit of Love. It’s the Holy Spirit, which we have received in Baptism and Confirmation, which is the living force of Christians. It’s the one Spirit of God that makes us the one Body of Christ, the Church. It’s the Holy Spirit which is the living force of the Christian community; the Spirit who has sustained the Church, generation after generation, keeping believers true to Jesus Christ; it’s the Spirit who guides the Church to deeper fidelity at each moment of her history. If the Spirit hadn’t been sent to give birth to the Church, then the followers of Jesus would just be a disparate group of individuals: enthusiasts in a club, bound together only by common ideals and interests.

But instead, we are told that we are the Temples of the Holy Spirit. God Himself, the third person of the Blessed Trinity, has been sent and dwells in our hearts. That living, eternal Spirit of Love in us is what allows us to be the community of the Church.

Something we sometimes say is: isn’t it good that God didn’t make us all the same! What a boring place the world would be if we were all identical! And so it is when we look at all the disciples of Jesus. Saint Paul explains that the Spirit of Love in us inspires different gifts in different people, but all these manifestations of the Spirit are for a good purpose – they all work for the good of the whole body.

When we look at the Saints of the Church, they are the ones who have allowed the Spirit dwelling in them to truly shine forth; they’ve been so open to the guidance of the Spirit that their lives become beautiful with the glory of God. We think of Saint John Paul II, the great evangelist of his times; Blessed Mother Teresa, overflowing with the Spirit who heals and comforts; Saint Mary of the Cross MacKillop, pioneer of the faith in our own land.

The story of the Saints is what we are called to. We have received the same Spirit as they did in Baptism and Confirmation, and just as the Spirit was given to them for a good purpose, so the Spirit is given to us for a good purpose. Sometimes when we think of the Saints we mistakenly think that for us to be like them we need to go and do something else, be someone else, in some other place. But that’s not right. It’s exactly where God has put each of us that we are called to be saints.

We are called to be so aware that the Spirit is living in us, that the Holy Spirit of Love is able to guide all our actions, so that we literally glow with the fire of God’s love as the Saints did. And we do that in our families, in our marriages, at school, in our workplaces – wherever you “are” right now in your life.

One of the beautiful things is that every Mass is like a new Pentecost … at every Mass we pray that the Holy Spirit will descend and change the bread and the wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus. And so the Spirit of God is present and active in the celebration of the Blessed Eucharist. And so when we participate in the Mass, and especially when we receive Our Lord in Holy Communion, the Spirit is at work in us: enlivening all the gifts that we received in Baptism and Confirmation; fanning into a strong flame that Spirit we have received. Why would we ever want to stay away from Mass when we realize what God is doing for us and in us!

And so as we offer Mass this morning, and receive Our Lord in Holy Communion, let’s be grateful for the gift of the Spirit which Jesus promised to his followers. May that living force who is God Himself give us life, and all His gifts; may He keep us one in unity, and may He keep us faithful to Jesus all the days of our lives.

 

 

Going on retreat

It’s come at just the right time … thanks be to God.

 

Tomorrow afternoon I will go on ‘spiritual retreat’ until Friday morning.  The retreat, organised by the Australian Confraternity of Catholic Clergy, will be led by Bishop emeritus of Armidale, Luc Matthys.

I will remember all those who have commended themselves, or been recommended, to my prayers.  In your charity, please pray for those on retreat this week.

I will not be taking my computer, and my phone will be off!  All things that can’t wait until Friday can be directed to the parish office on 3848 1107.

ascension2014Homily for Mass – Ascension of the Lord (Year A)

(Mary Immaculate Church, Annerley: Sunday 7:30am, 11:00am, 12:30pm)

1 June 2014

(Readings: Acts 1:1-11; Ps 46; Eph 1:17-23; Mt 28:16-20)

When the Son of God, the eternal Word of the Father, took flesh and came among us as Jesus of Nazareth, one of the reasons for this was so that we would be able to know God the Father. Jesus said to Saint Phillip: to have seen me is to have seen the Father. And so Jesus was a living, breathing, talking, walking icon of what God the Father is like (1). His human presence with us was to help us to reach the Father, to come back to Him, and to stay with Him forever.

This presence with us didn’t end with his crucifixion. After his death, Jesus rose again and continued to be with his followers: teaching and instructing them; helping them to understand what God had done and still wanted to do.

And then we come to the mystery that the Church celebrates today: the Ascension of the Lord, when that physical presence of Jesus departs. No longer would his disciples see him with their eyes as they had, or hear his voice in the same way; no longer would they have that time with him to watch him interact with others, to heal and forgive, to preach the kingdom of God.

We could well ask: why didn’t Jesus just stay behind as he was? Just think: if he hadn’t ascended into heaven and was still in the world in the same way, he could have had Facebook and Twitter; he could upload the latest videos of himself to YouTube; we could even Skype him! And yet, God, who could foresee all these eventualities, had a different plan.

When the physical presence of Jesus ascends to heaven – as difficult as that is for us to comprehend – we are given a glimpse of our destiny. We, with our physical, human existence, are destined for life with God in heaven … and Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son of God, that man with the same physical and human existence as us – has already gone there. That’s a message of hope – because where he has gone, we hope to follow. And while our mortal minds, trying to grapple with space and time, have difficulty comprehending this, it is a mystery, nonetheless, that gives us hope.

Another important aspect of this mystery of the Ascension is contained in Jesus words to his disciples before he goes. As he prepares to leave them he says, “And know that I am with you always; yes, to the end of time.” It seems like a contradiction: his farewell words before going are “I am with you always.” What this means is that his presence with them changes from that physical, visible presence, and passes over into the sacraments. It’s in the sacraments that Christ is with us until the end of time. He who once gave his body and blood at that Supper table on the night before he died for us, now continues – until the end of time – to give his body and blood to us at the Eucharistic supper table, the altar of sacrifice. The sacraments transcend time and space, and so when the young people come today to the altar to receive Holy Communion for the first time, its exactly the same as when Christ’s apostles received his Body and Blood from his hands at the table of the Last Supper. The eucharist, above all, is the sign we have that Jesus is with us until the end of time, as he said he would be.

Another thing the mystery of the Ascension shows us is the importance of the Church which Christ instituted, because at his ascension he gives a command to those disciples present: Go, make disciples of all the nations; baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you. We have in that sentence the whole reason the Church exists; and we have in it the mandate Christ gave to his Church: to make disciples, to baptize, to teach people to observe all the commands he gave us: and this is what the Church continues to do, 2000 years later … to teach the people of today to observe all that Christ taught us: not just bits of it, but all of it: the fullness of the truth.

This weekend, as the young people of our parish who were Confirmed last week make their first Communion, they are now – sacramentally – full members of the Church. They share fully – with us – that mandate that Christ gave to the first members of the Church … to make disciples of all the nations, to baptize, and to teach all the commands he gave us.

Now, whilst their sacramental initiation is complete, it’s quite obvious that their Christian formation is not yet complete (and in fact it never is, for any of us). And just as the parents of the children completing their initation this weekend aren’t going to remove their children from school on Monday morning, but rather see that they have another ten years of education, so too the children’s Christian formation must continue: by fidelity to the command to keep Sunday holy with participation in Mass; by daily prayer; by attentive listening to the Sacred Scriptures, both in the liturgy and in personal reflection; by celebration of the sacraments, especially frequent Confession; by learning the teachings of Christ as handed down through the ages by the Church; and by actively putting into practice the way of living that Jesus gave us, to avoid sin and to practice virtue.

This formation of the young people of our parish is the job – not just of their parents, who have the first and primary job of doing it – but of all of us. And we do that through our encouragement, and above all by our own example of faithfully trying to live the Christian faith as we know God wants us to.

And so, we gather on this day to celebrate the mysteries of our faith because those first disciples were faithful to the Lord’s command: they went to the ends of the earth, baptizing, making disciples, teaching others to observe everything that the Lord had taught … and then, in turn, Christians throughout the past 2000 years have also been faithful to Christ’s command, and so we have received this same inheritance of faith. May we, in our turn, be faithful to Christ. May we, in our day, observe all that the Lord has commanded and teach others to do the same, so that all people will come to know and love God, and to live in communion with Him.

+++ +++ +++

1. http://torch.op.org/preaching_sermon_item.php?sermon=5807

 

 

 

If you have not yet booked to attend the fundraising dinner for Pregnancy Crisis Incorporated on Saturday 7 June 2014, please note that there are still places available.

 

PCI FUNDRAISING DINNER

SATURDAY 7 JUNE 2014 – 6.30 PM

MARYMAC COMMUNITY CENTRE, 616 IPSWICH ROAD ANNERLEY

 

KEYNOTE GUEST SPEAKER:  EMERITUS ARCHBISHOP HICKEY

 

Cost:  $55; Concession: $35; Special family prices

 

To book for the dinner telephone: 1300 777 777 or email:  pci777@bigpond.com

 

FAMILY MASS  9:00am Saturday 7th June 2014.
Our Lady’s Catholic Church, Halle St, Everton Park.
Celebrant Fr Adrian Sharp. Reconciliation from 8am & after Mass for as long as needed. Includes First Saturday Marian devotions, morning tea & children’s activities.  ALL WELCOME.  Sponsored by Opus Angelorum Inc.  Contact Lucy 0431875741.

Oratory logoI thought I’d put a little update up about some of the happenings in the Brisbane Oratory in Formation (BOF).

Since the blessing of Casa San Girolamo (CSG), the residence of the members of the BOF, back on Ash Wednesday (at which the four priest members of the community were present), all five members of the community were able to gather at CSG at the end of April.  Brother Shawn Murphy, our seminarian, was home in Australia during the summer break in Toronto, where he is currently nearing the end of his first year of formation.  The gathering of the whole community was a blessed and happy time, since it is rare at this stage for us all to be together.  With the exception of Father Paul Chandler and myself who are living in community in Annerley Ekibin Parish in Brisbane, the community is still scattered geographically.  Our time together was also fruitful, and our meeting times enabled us to more clearly articulate the process we will follow as we discern with the men who indicate a desire to join our community.   We were able to catch up on other items of business and administrative issues.  Even at this preliminary stage there is plenty to be done.  Brother Shawn gave a presentation to the community based on his first year of formation which he has undertaken at the Toronto Oratory.  We hope to get that uploaded to the Oratory website shortly.

At our gathering in April we also received the Oratory lapel pins which Father Andrew Wise had arranged to be made.  They are a good conversation piece: I wear mine most of the time.

Much time was spent in recent months, especially by Father Paul and the organizing committee, in preparation for the inaugural Vallicella Dinner, which was held last Saturday evening.  The night was a wonderful success, bringing together supporters and friends of the Oratory for a very enjoyable social occasion.  A panel discussion during the evening helped explain the purpose and objectives of an Oratory, and this aspect of the night was appreciated by many.  One of the goals of the evening was to raise funds to pay for the formation of our seminarians, and we were very pleased that we seem to have raised in the vicinity of $30,000, which will pay for two seminarians for one year.  This was a wonderful achievement, and we are most grateful to our benefactors and friends for helping us achieve this.  The formation of priests for the Church is certainly a worthy cause which many are pleased to be able to assist.

Part of the fundraising on the evening was various auctions.  Auction items included three zuchetti (skull caps) which had been worn, respectively, by the Holy Father, Pope Francis, Cardinal Pell, and the newly ordained Auxiliary Bishop of Birmingham, Bishop Robert Byrne, who at the time of his election to the episcopate was a priest of the Birmingham Oratory.  He is the first Oratorian Bishop in England in 140 years.  The zuchetti generated much interest, and also generous bidding!

Father Adrian Sharp, Father Andrew Wise, Brother Shawn Murphy, Father Paul Chandler (the identy of the fourth priest member is not yet able to be released)

Father Adrian Sharp, Father Andrew Wise, Brother Shawn Murphy, Father Paul Chandler, taken during the community’s time together in April (the identity of the fourth priest member is not yet able to be released). Brother Shawn is wearing the distinctive Oratorian habit.

With the dinner concluded, one of the next things the community will be deciding is who will be sent to begin their formation in Toronto in September, the beginning of the academic year in Canada.  We have about seven men in varying stages of discernment at the moment, and several are close to the point of submitting a formal application.  Please keep all our enquirers in your prayers;  and also the community as it makes its decisions about who to accept at this stage.

Archbishop Coleridge continues to work on the matter of the Oratory’s eventual home.  This is also a matter that needs much prayer, because the proper venue and arrangement for the Oratory house is crucial.

All the members of the community will be travelling to Rome in January for the five-yearly International Clergy Conference jointly organised by the Confraternities of Catholic Clergy in Australia, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and the United States.  We will, of course, be making visits to important Oratorian sites in Rome, not the least of which is the tomb of our Holy Founder and Father, Saint Philip Neri.  After our stay in Rome, we will be going to stay for some days at the London Oratory.  There we will be meeting up with Fr Michael Lang who was appointed by the Procurator General of the Confederation of the Oratory of Saint Philip Neri as our liaison person with the Confederation, to assist in the proper establishment of the Brisbane Oratory.

So there is much happening in our community.  Please pray that all our efforts to establish the first Oratory in Oceania will be surrounded with God’s blessing and protection.  Saint Philip Neri, and our other patron saints, pray for us!

http://brisbane-oratory.org/

https://www.facebook.com/brisbaneoratory

https://twitter.com/BrisbaneOratory

2014 06 01 Newsletter, The Ascension of the Lord, Year A

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2014 05 25 Newsletter, Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year A

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5eaHomily for Mass – Fifth Sunday of Easter (Year A)

(Mary Immaculate Church: Sunday 7:30am, 9:00am & 5:00pm)

18 May 2014

(Readings: Acts 6:1-7; Ps 32; 1 Pet 2:4-9; Jn 14:1-12)

In today’s Gospel Jesus speaks of his “Father’s house” in heaven. There’s only one other place in Saint John’s Gospel when Jesus speaks of his “Father’s house” – and that’s in the episode when he cleanses the temple, turning over the tables of the money-changers and driving out those selling animals: “Get these out of here,” he says, “stop turning my Father’s house into a market place.” The Temple on earth was meant to be an image of the “Father’s house” in heaven. The Temple in Jerusalem was a “sign of the Lord’s presence among his people” just as in heaven “God is ever present to his people.” The “Jerusalem Temple was failing to live up to its role as a sign of heaven” and that’s why Jesus had “to cleanse it of its commerce and profiteering.”

The image of the “house” appears in our second reading today as well. Saint Peter tells his hearers to “set yourselves close to [the Lord] so that you too … may be living stones making a spiritual house.” The Jerusalem Temple was made of stone. But the temple of heaven is, of course, not made of stone, it is made up of the “living stones” of God’s people.

The Church – as the people of God – is therefore the image of the spiritual house of the Father in heaven. The Church, therefore, shares in the perfection of the Father’s house, but because it is made up of the living stones of God’s people, it also bears the weakness, frailty, and even sinfulness that still beset the “living stones” whilst they live on earth.

Being an image of another reality is central to the dialogue between Jesus and Philip in the Gospel. “To have seen me is to have seen the Father,” Jesus says to him. Jesus Christ – his words, his actions, his way of life – he is the embodiment of God’s desire to express Himself among people. Jesus is the perfect embodiment of the will of God.

This idea of one thing being an image of something else, which is so present in our Readings today, invites us to reflect on various things. First, for ourselves individually: Saint Peter says that we are to be living stones of a spiritual house just as Jesus is the living stone. And so it should always be in our minds: if we have put on Christ in baptism; if we have been baptized into the mystery of his life, then we should always be asking ourselves if our life is truly an image of Christ’s life? Would we be able to say –to paraphrase Jesus’ own words – to have seen me is to have seen Jesus?

But further than just the individual level, there is the level on which, together, we are the living stones making a spiritual house – which in turn is an image of the Father’s house in heaven. We can’t be the image of the house on our own – any more than a single brick is a good representation of the whole building. We are living stones together with all the other living stones, making a spiritual house. And so our life as the Christian community is significant.

Saint Peter tells us that we are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a consecrated nation, a people set apart to sing the praise of God who called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.” In his homilies in recent days, Pope Francis returned to a familiar theme of his: you can’t be a Christian outside the Church. It’s only when the living stones are together that they make up the spiritual house – otherwise they’re just stones.

And so just as we ask ourselves individually: when others see me do they see Christ? We also need to reflect on our communal life: when others look at the Christian community of Annerley Ekibin, do they see “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a consecrated nation, a people set apart to sing the praises of God who” calls us out of darkness into his wonderful light?

Individually, if our lives are marred by sin, then people won’t see Christ in us. The image will be blurred. There was no sin in Christ. Sin is unrecognizable in him, and it makes his image in us less recognizable. And it’s true of our communal life: if it’s marked by factions, gossiping, power-plays, back-biting, then we’re not going to be a very good image of the Father’s house of heaven.

This people that God has called us to belong to – to be living stones of – is a community that for two thousand years has constantly shared with people the presence of God; that has offered a life of brotherhood and fraternity to others; a community that has led people achieve communion with God, with the saints in Heaven, and with others in this temporal life; a community that has shared the saving love and mercy of God for all people; a community that has offered an explanation for the true meaning of all that happens in our lives; a community that has sought to reveal to every reality its true meaning and purpose in the plan of God.

In order for any of this to be true, we must keep our hearts fixed on Jesus who is the way, the truth and the life. May this be our prayer as we worship and praise the God who has made us His people. May our participation in these sacred mysteries shape us and help us to be the those living stones making up the spiritual house of God.

=== +++ ===

1. Father Benjamin Earl, O.P. http://torch.op.org/preaching_sermon_item.php?sermon=5805&ref=lit

 

 

2014 05 18 Newsletter, Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year A

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