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Homily for Mass – Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

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

20/21 September 2014

[Readings: Isaiah 55:6-9; Philippians 1:20-24, 27; Matthew 20:1-16]

 

The parables of Jesus constantly challenge our misguided instincts! They are an excellent example of what the Lord said through the prophet Isaiah: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways.”

 

The parable we hear today is easy to relate to. In our day and age when people are so attuned to their rights and what they can expect (even demand) in employment, we naturally assume that someone who works longer at the same job will receive more pay.

 

And yet, we have the situation in the parable of tonight’s Gospel where every worker who went to work in the landowner’s vineyard gets paid exactly the same amount, regardless of when they started working, or for how long. In the first instance, the parable points out that the landowner has observed justice: he gave every worker the amount they agreed to work for. He has not done less than what is just. But he has also gone beyond justice to showing mercy. The workers who may have done less work, still receive the “usual daily wage” – in other words, they received what they needed to support themselves and their families that day. The landowner has attended both to justice and to mercy.

 

The word of God today challenges us to realize that the way we think can often be narrow, and we can often have difficulty seeing things the way God sees things, and the way God wants us to see things. It is a challenge for us to truly grasp God’s infinite love and mercy; a mercy which also attends to justice. “Most disconcerting,” says one commentator, “[most disconcerting] – to human ways of looking at things – [is] God’s unyielding inclination to forgive.” [Archbishop Terrence Prendergast SJ, Living God’s Word: Reflections on the Sunday Readings for Year A, Toronto, Novalis, 2010, p. 140] For human beings, generally, that is not our inclination.

 

In many ways, we can see a parallel between the grumblers in the parable we’ve heard today and the elder brother in the parable of the prodigal son. The grumblers seem to see their work in the vineyard as a heavy affliction. They say to the landowner: “[we] have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.” We hear echoes of the elder brother of the prodigal son, remonstrating with his father that he had slaved for him for many years and had never had a party thrown for him! If we move beyond the parables, we might say that some people in the kingdom of God are not working with a JOY of being God’s sons and daughters, but rather are working with the ill-temper of slaves or servants.

 

We might go further and say that some people mistakenly see faith (and the church even) as something that binds and enslaves, and they see conscience as something that restricts and constrains. Such people might be secretly envious of others who seem to “live life” without such constraints. They don’t see faith and conscience as something that allows us to truly gain our freedom as God’s children.   Some people might even feel that they’re entitled to salvation, or that they’ve earned it; and so they then feel a jealousy toward others who seem to be blessed by God, and who appear not to have earned it or deserved it.

 

The word of God reminds us of the Father’s generosity, who wills everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of truth. He calls everyone to work in his vineyard. The psalmist reminds us, The Lord is good to all, compassionate to all His creatures.

 

I think a central question we might ask ourselves in response to today’s scripture: are we ministers of the generous mercy of God? What is in our heart as we do what God wants? As we live our faith, do we do so joyfully as God’s sons and daughters? Do we seek out and live God’s will as a glad duty, as contributing to our salvation and eternal happiness, or has it become a restrictive burden?

 

Perhaps we may discover in our hearts the grumbling that we hear in the parables. Perhaps jealousy. If so, we have a wonderful antidote in the celebration of Mass. As we come to the eucharist we have in our very celebration a wonderful example of the generosity of God: Jesus comes to us as a gift to nourish us in word and sacrament. He comes to be our spiritual food. He comes to us whether we’ve been working in his vineyard all through the day, or just for the final hour.

 

As we welcome and receive Christ we pray that he may change us, and change our hearts, to be more like him. Like Christ, may we become more generous ministers of the mercy and love of God.

 

 

 

 

Can you be one of the 399?!

Annerley Ekibin Catholic Parish

Art union 2014 graphic

Tickets are now selling in our Spring 2014 Minor Art Union.  Proceeds are to assist the operations and ministries of our parish.

We are very grateful to all who have purchased tickets already.  There are only 399 tickets to be sold.

Simply return the application form with your payment or credit card authorization, and we will post the ticket to you.  The application form can be found here: Spring 2014 Art Union – Terms and Application Form

Can you be one of the 399?!

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Spring Charity Gala

Spring Charity Gala at Annerley

Annerley Ekibin Catholic Parish

Spring charity galaAfter the successful Victory in the Pacific Dance held recently, a forthcoming social in the parish will be the The Spring Charity Gala, featuring Warwick Adeney Strings and Company Beeee

at the Marymac Centre, 616 Ipswich Road, Annerley, 6:00pm on Saturday, 11th October, 2014.

Vivaldi’s Four Seasons

Swing Dancing

Viennese Walzes

Live Entertainment

Dress Code: Black Tie

Open Bar and Cocktail Food

Price: $50.00. Early Bird, before September 30th: $40.00. Student: $35.00.

Contact: Nicole on 3342 0777 or Ella on 0432 383 373

 

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Our second student for the Brisbane Oratory received the habit of Saint Philip Neri in Toronto on Sunday

Annerley Ekibin Catholic Parish

br francis habitOratory logoTyson King, the Brisbane Oratory in Formation’s second student to be sent to commence formation in Toronto, has received the habit of Saint Philip Neri on Sunday.

See here for the story and photos.

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Homily for Mass – Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

(Saint John Fisher Church, Tarragindi:  Sunday 9:00am;

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

7 September 2014

(Readings: Ez 33:7-9; Ps 94; Rom 13:8-10; Mt 18:15-20)

 

Over the years, campaigns to stop drink driving have reminded us of our responsibility towards others. “Friends don’t let friends drink and drive,” and such like. If we truly are friends with someone, then we have a responsibility towards them.

Christians have a responsibility towards others as well. And each of our readings today reminds us of that responsibility. We could summarize those responsibilities as the responsibility to speak, to respect, and to heal.

In the first reading we hear of the responsibility to speak. The prophet Ezekiel speaks of being appointed by the Lord as “sentry to the House of Israel.” The role of a sentry, or watchman, was to warn of danger. This reminds us of our Christian responsibility – and indeed our moral duty – to speak the truth about right and wrong, whether to society collectively or to individuals. There are a variety of modes in which we can do that, but as Christians we can’t sit back and be silent when there are attacks on innocent life, or when society is heading in the wrong moral direction, or when we see people we know damaging themselves. The Lord says, through Ezekiel, that we have a duty to speak. To say nothing makes us morally complicit in the wrong another does. If we speak and the person doesn’t listen, then we have done our duty. But we have a responsibility to speak the truth to each other.

Then there is the duty to respect each other. In the second reading today we hear Saint Paul naming some of the obligations that are summed up in the command to love our neighbour as ourself; he lists: do not commit adultery, do not kill, do not steal, do not covet, and so on. We could restate these in the positive: we have the responsibility to respect other people’s life, to respect other people’s marriages, to respect other people’s property, and to respect other people’s integrity.

The gospel today, then, gives us another responsibility: and that’s to heal; or as is described in the Gospel, tl deal with conflict constructively. In these paragraphs of Matthew’s Gospel we have an outline from Our Lord about how to deal with conflict. It is suggested that since St Matthew’s Gospel was written a little later than then others, the teaching it contains reflects the fact that the Christian community had moved beyond the initial – we might say – “honeymoon” period. The Church had to, very early on, grapple with the fact that conflicts would emerge between believers; even between good people, there would be disagreements. Whilst we might be disenchanted at first that the Church community is not perfect, we can take some consolation from the fact that Our Lord has provided us a way to deal with conflict. As Pope Francis has reminded us, the Church is like a field-hospital of wounded people – or, as others have put it, a school for sinners … the Church is a place where we seek healing, and strive for the holiness that is also ours. We know well that the Church – you and me – is at once holy, and yet also at the same time, always in need of purification.

So Our Lord has enumerated several steps to deal with conflict. The first is to put our complaint into words. “If your brother does something wrong, go and have it out with him alone, between your two selves.” Jesus first urges us to sort the problem out privately. We know how easy it is to give into the temptation, when in a conflict situation, to speak to everyone else except the actual person involved. We gossip, slander, complain, engage in detraction, rather than actually speaking with the person who is the cause of our complaint.

Next, if speaking privately with our opponent doesn’t work, Our Lord urges us to find a third person who can help to bring about a resolution. Sometimes another person, who perhaps has no personal interest in the situation, can be a bridge between those who are at odds.

Later, if there is still no resolution, Our Lord says to take it to the authority. There are situations that must be brought before whatever official body that has a right to know about it.

In the end, if there is still no solution, we must pray for the person with whom we are in conflict, and we must leave them to God’s justice, to His judgment and His grace.

Whilst we may wish it to be otherwise, conflict is part and parcel of being human, and it will therefore be part of the life of the Church. But what the Gospel reminds us of today is that there is a Christian way to deal with conflict: a way that does not seek revenge, but rather the healing of conflict and the restoration of all parties to God’s peace and grace. The effort to heal both the discord itself and our opponent is a way of showing Christian maturity and Christian responsibility.

Our readings today teach us that we have a responsibility to others: a responsibility to speak, to respect and to heal. One thing that today’s readings can remind us is that Christian love is not an emotion or a feeling, but a responsibility and obligation. It is something we choose to do, empowered by God’s grace – realizing that alone we can do nothing.

May this eucharist sustain and help us to engage our Christian responsibilities as we navigate the often challenging situations of life.

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(Adapted from: S. Joseph Krempa, Captured Fire: The Sunday Homilies, Cycle A (Staten Island, NY: St. Paul, 2005).

 

 

 

Homily for Mass – Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

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

31 August 2014

(Readings: Jer 20:7-9; Ps 62; Rom 12:1-2; Mt 16:21-27)

 In choosing words to describe the people of our generation one word that certainly fits is “entertained.” We must be one of the most ‘entertained’ generations of human history. We have TVs that bring free-to-air and any number of paid stations; the internet can bring before our eyes practically anything; anyone who fears silence can carry around an i-pod or the like; – not to mention the omnipresent mobile phone, more than just a symbolic link with our network of contacts.

With the exception of the i-pod, I’m no stranger to any of the above. I do consider myself, lucky, though, to be just old enough to remember a world before email, and before everyone carried a phone around with them. At the moment I don’t get to watch much TV, but over the years, I have – like most of you, I’m sure – had my favourite shows on TV that I didn’t like to miss. I must admit, though, sometimes after sitting in front of the television for an hour or two, when I have got up and go to do whatever it was that had just been put on hold, I have said to myself, “Gee, there’s an hour of my life that I’m never going to get back!”

Today’s readings issue a real challenge, I believe, to a generation like ours that is completely saturated by the influence of “social” media, both the older and it’s newer forms. In the middle of the second reading, Saint Paul says: “Do not model yourselves on the behaviour of the world around you, but let your behaviour change, modelled by your new mind” [that is, the mind of Christ]. In our day, almost 24/7 we are under the influence of what is coming into our minds through the TV, through the internet, and on our phones. And we have to recognize the force that that has on us and on our thinking, and believing. With that subtle pressure, it’s so very easy to just BE like everyone else. To think like everyone else – to believe like everyone else. When sociologists give reports they give the rather unfortunate statistic that on almost everything, Christian people (Catholics included) pretty much share the same values as everyone else. That should be an alarming statistic – unless our world has suddenly reached perfection! We should well ask the question, then: “have we modeled ourselves on the behaviour of the world around us? Have we failed to let our behaviour be modeled by Christ?”

There is a temptation to soften the hard edge of Christianity. We see this when we romanticize people like St Francis of Assisi. What Francis did was absolutely shocking to his family and most of his friends; shocking too for many in the church, priests and bishops included. The sight of Francis and his companions in their poor clothes, begging for food, earnt them heaps of scorn, suspicion and ridicule.

But those things are nothing new for followers of the Lord! We have, in our first reading today, the lament of the prophet Jeremiah. Jeremiah is ruing the day he accepted his vocation. He says that, as a result of following the Lord’s call, he is a daily laughing stock, everbody’s butt! As the prophet of the Lord he had to speak what God told him. And far from being some cosy, comfortable, message, God made him speak hard words, difficult words for the people to accept. Jeremiah summarizes that he had to speak “Violence and ruin!” to the people in God’s name. And so all that this has earnt him is insult and derision.

Jeremiah tries to ignore the Lord; to ignore his vocation as a prophet. He said to himself, “I will not think about [the Lord]; I will not speak in his name any more.” In other words, for Jeremiah it would have been far easier just to conform with the world around him – to go with the flow – rather than to speak the challenging words that the Lord asked him to say to His people. BUT, poor Jeremiah, ignoring his vocation wasn’t going to work. The effort to ignore the Lord “wearied [him]” he said, “I could not bear it.”

When we are living our lives, going about our daily things, perhaps doing what everyone else is doing, from time to time we’ll feel a gentle nudge inside ourselves. Perhaps it won’t be like “fire imprisoned inside our bones” like it was for Jeremiah. It might be as simple as that thought that I’ve felt after wasting too much time in front of the TV.

The gentle call of God in our hearts will force us to make some choices. The first choice we have, is like Jeremiah’s: we can ignore the call of God, or at least we can try to! And I think, our modern entertainment culture allows us to quite successfully drown out most of the subtle movements of the Holy Spirit in our hearts.

But if we don’t ignore the movements of the Holy Spirit, then we need to wrestle with St Paul’s command to let our behaviour be modeled – not by the world around us – but rather by our new mind (that is, the mind of Christ). Jesus himself rebukes Peter for thinking in a purely human way, and for not being willing to accept the way that Jesus was presenting – a way that includes suffering and death.

When Jesus asks us to renounce ourselves – he’s asking us to renounce all that is false; all that the world makes us that is contrary to the way of God. He’s asking us to renounce our misuse of freedom; to renounce our selfish tendencies; to renounce all those things that have covered over the original beauty we had when we were made in the image and likeness of God. Renunciation – according to Jesus – is not about surrendering freedom, but in truly finding it, in the way God intends.

So, let’s be open to the challenge of the word of God to us today. If you are hearing the Lord speaking to you, calling you, inviting you in some way, to a deeper life in Him, what are you going to do in response?

Annerley Ekibin Catholic Parish

ANNERLEY EKIBIN CATHOLIC PARISH

seeks a suitably qualified person for the position of

Parish Finance Officer

for eight hours per week, to assist the Parish Priest in the financial administration of the parish.

Duties include the reconciliation of accounts, payment of bills, preparing Balance Sheets and Profit and Loss Statements, BAS statements, assisting the parish in meeting Archdiocesan financial requirements, and pursuing business on behalf of the Parish Finance Council between its meetings. The position reports to the Parish Priest and the Parish Finance Council. Ability to use MYOB is essential. The applicant will need to be able to attend evening Parish Finance Council meetings. Working hours are flexible.

For more information, please contact the Parish Office on 3848 1107 or email annek@bne.catholic.net.au.

Applications close: 5.00pm on Monday,

15th September, 2014

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Homily for Mass – Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

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

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

23/24 August 2014

[Readings: Is 22:1-23; Ps 137; Rom 11:33-36; Mt 16:13-20]

 In our first reading today we hear of Eliakim and Shebna, who were the chief stewards – or like the prime minister – under King Hezekiah, the king of Judah. “The king had many servants … but one man was chief among them and stood between the king and his other ministers” [1]. We are told, in the first reading, that this prime minister would “be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the House of Judah,” and as a sign of his office he would be given the keys of the kingdom, the key of the House of David.

The keys held by Shebna and Eliakim, as prime ministers, were not to a city gate, but to the royal palace, the house of David. The keys would “grant access to a throne room where the king may be petitioned, and to a treasury from which that king can reward his subjects, [and] to the royal granaries from which his people will be fed” [2].

Our first reading and Gospel sit side by side, and in the Gospel we hear Jesus giving Peter the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Peter is to be a “prime minister” of sorts – a chief shepherd. The keys that Peter holds “grant access to the throne of God in prayer, to the treasury of grace, [and] to the granaries of the bread of heaven” [2].

In the first reading Isaiah is prophesying that a time would come when one prime minister would replace another. This holds true for the ministry of Peter: there is a succession of Popes, so that the same ministry that Peter exercised at the beginning, given to him by Christ, continues to be exercised in the Church by his successor, the Pope.

Caesaria Phillipi, where today’s Gospel scene is set, was the place of the shrine to the pagan god Pan. His shrine was a series of rocks, in fact a whole rocky hillside, which had been consecrated to Pan [3]. It was here, in the place of the rock shrine to a pagan God, that Jesus establishes a new kingdom, his Church, one based on his rule, his authority, “Jesus builds a church, a new people, on the rock of his apostle” Peter [2].

The first thing Jesus says about his Church is that “the gates of the underworld can never hold out against it.” Right from the beginning Jesus indicates that his Church will be in a battle with the forces of hell, but that his Church would prevail. In Jesus’ own lifetime, he had to struggle with the forces of death, and he had to be killed before rising to new life. “His Church is caught up in that same struggle, [and] will know persecution, suffering and death.” The Church currently suffers “terribly in Iraq and Syria; but the Church, too, will overcome death to share in the risen life of Jesus” [2]. Christ’s Church will face this battle with the forces of death on many fronts. But, the gates of hell will not prevail.

Today we are invited to reflect on Christ’s gift of the papacy to his Church. Every Pope is different, and we see in each of them the particular ways that God blesses and guides His people in each moment of history: sending Popes with particular gifts at particular times. The Pope strengthens the faith of the brothers and sisters of Jesus; he is the Shepherd who leads the whole community of the Lord’s disciples. The Papacy is a permanent structure of Christ’s Church, and the succession of the papacy is based in the city of Saint Peter’s martyrdom – Rome. The Pope, like Peter, is to sacrifice himself for the sake of Christ’s bride, the Church.

Saint Peter’s successor promotes and defends the unity of faith and the communion of all believers (1). Just as Peter, at Caesarea Phillipi, correctly named who Jesus was, so too his successor continues to articulate the Church’s faith, and to help believers come to Jesus and understand who Jesus is, and what mission he has entrusted to us. Our Popes, above all, call us to prayer, and they communicate to us “something of the infinite grace of God that will feed us and give us everlasting life” [2].

Let’s pray especially today for our Holy Father, Pope Francis.

May the Lord preserve him, give him a long life, make him blessed upon the earth, and may the Lord not hand him over to the power of his enemies. Lord, may your hand be upon your holy servant.   And upon your son whom you have anointed.

 Let us pray … O God, the Pastor and Ruler of all the faithful, look down, in your mercy, upon your servant, Francis, whom you have appointed to preside over your Church; and grant, we beseech you, that both by word and example, he may edify all those under his charge; so that, with the flock entrusted to him, he may arrive at length unto life everlasting. Through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

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[1] Fr Jason Mitchell, LC: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/sunday-homily-i-will-give-you-the-keys-to-the-kingdom-of-heaven?

[2] Fr Richard Finn, OP: http://torch.op.org/preaching_sermon_item.php?sermon=5820

[3] Fr Aidan Nicols, OP, Year of the Lord’s Favour, A Homiliary for the Roman Liturgy, Volume 3: The Temporal Cycle, Sundays Through the Year.

 

 

Oratory logoHere is news of our new student who has been accepted to begin formation:

http://brisbane-oratory.org/new-student-for-the-brisbane-oratory-in-formation/

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].