Thoughts August 2004

Thoughts for the Month

The Jesus I know is no cold, hard Iron-Christ; nor does Jesus deserve to be reduced to smug, glib and uncompassionate irrelevancies when the real meaning of His love is what people need so desperately.

“Who is Worthy?” Ted Kennedy

Hiroshima Never Again

Friday 6 August 6.00 pm Town Hall Square
Candlelight March to Archibald Fountain.

August 6th is the anniversary of the day in 1945 when the United State dropped a nuclear bomb on Hiroshima, Japan. The city and its people were devastated. Three days later on August 9, 1945, the United States destroyed the city and people of Nagasaki, Japan with a second atomic bomb. Today we recall that event and pray for peace for our world, and for nuclear disarmament and an end to the arms race.

Gracious God, remembering the horrors experienced by the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we confess the violence and hatred, fear and resentment that pervade our world. Forgive us, and set us free.

We confess that we, and all humankind, so often put our faith in conflict, antagonism and violence, rather than in love and trust. Forgive us, and set us free.We confess the madness of the arms race, and the hypocrisy of western nations that accept nuclear weapons being held by themselves or their allies but not by others. Forgive us and set us free.

We pray that your Holy Spirit may blow throughout the world this day, reminding all rulers and peoples of the horror of nuclear weapons and engendering in all a desire to stop nuclear proliferation, get rid of nuclear weapons (and indeed all weapons) and to end the reliance on military force to resolve political and economic disputes. Give to all humankind a vision of a world where weapons have been banished, and everyone works for the wellbeing of humankind and the environment. Forgive us and set us free.

Creator Spirit who revealed your love for all people in Jesus Christ hear our words. Amen

In Duino Eleqies, the poet Rainer Maris Rilke asks, “Isn’t it time for the ancient seeds of suffering to put forth fruit?”

As we approach another August 6 (Hiroshima), and another August 9 (Nagasaki), we should apply his question to ourselves. How can the ongoing threat of nuclear war – any war – change the way we live in a positive way? How can it bring us closer to God, closer to the wretched of the earth, and closer to each other?

Only when we let Hiroshima and Nagasaki bear good fruit in our lives can the suffering of its dead and dying begin to be redeemed. Only then will we – and our children and their children – be saved from the hardheartedness that allowed it to happen, and that could, at any time, allow it to happen again.

(Johann Christoph Arnold

Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the United Nations, points to the voices invariably absent in every set of deliberations: the voice of spiritual leaders and the voice of women….

Up until two weeks ago, “Lead us in the way of peace” always meant to me “Give me peace. Make me peaceful. Let me not be irritable or frustrated or agitated or upset.” It was a totally passive bidding prayer that asked for some kind of personal spiritual masseuse to give me serenity in the midst of chaos.

I’m not quite able to pray that prayer like that anymore…… I learned that “lead us in the way of peace” instead of meaning “lead me to where life is soft and warm and furry” may really mean “lead us to understand the ways of peacemaking.”

I saw women (in Oslo) making peace in ways that transcend the limits of official documents. The difference between the way women hold political meetings and the way governments hold political meetings may lie more in what happens between the people there than in what finally shows up in the resolutions.

It has to do with personal relationships rather than in behind-the-scenes deal making…..

June 24th 2003

(Joan Chittister, Nat. Cath. Reporter)

Excerpt from Eulogy by Bishop David Cremmin on Bishop John Heaps

“…. he was first and last a human being. He looked for the humanity in others. He found the model of true humanity in Jesus Christ. He read the gospels and found there a straight forward story of God seeking to love the world into freedom; got angry with those who misused the good news to support ends that were the very antithesis of love and freedom…..”

Commentary given by Elisabeth Burke

on Sunday, 11 June 2004

Our community has always been wider than a simple definition of parish geographical boundary. We reflect on this for two reasons. One is that most of us live outside that boundary! Today we remember Margaret Mazza, a Presentation Sister, who lived in the community at Caroline Street until she was struck by ill health. She had returned to Lismore where she committed her life to those on the edge of Society. She was buried this week in Lismore. Members of the community came from the Illawarra, the Southern Highlands, Northern NSW, all the metropolitan cities … all over the country to farewell her.

The second reason is that inclusivity, beyond legal definitions lies at the heart of today’s readings. The Parable of the Good Samaritan reminds us of some of the hallmarks of a person imbued with a living faith. It talks about loving God with our minds, hearts and soul AND loving thy neighbour as thyself. The Gospel reading hearkens back to our first reading from Deuteronomy in which we are told that in order to have a fruitful and meaningful life we need to go beyond an excellent knowledge of the law and practice a theology predicated on fruitful and meaningful actions, for others. It is what we do for OTHERS that matters. In Deuteronomy we are told that if we love God with all our minds and hearts, God will reward us with a plentiful life; in Luke’s gospel the injunction to love God is quoted but with the additional rider “to love our neighbour as oneself”. And Jesus says so you’ve understood it, now DO it, and live …

Christ suggests that the answer to the question on eternal life that opens the gospel story is not in following strict rules. Rather there is a link between eternal life and LIFE: what matters is what we DO, and the risks we take, like the Samaritan. Luke has an interesting sentence about the lawyer in conversation with Christ: “But he, willing to justify himself, said to Jesus ‘And who is my neighbour?'” Why the phrase ‘justify himself’? There are overtones here of one who ‘wants to present himself as a righteous man before God’ (Karl Barth); or that the lawyer will ‘bask in other people’s praise of him and his good works’. The second part of the sentence is the question ‘who is my neighbour?’ The lawyer anticipated a response along the lines that one’s neighbour was a fellow Jew, perhaps a relative or friend. But the poor man who had been robbed, beaten, stripped naked, and left on the road to die could have been anyone – Jew, gentile, Aramaic, Greek, Phoenician, Samaritan, etc – he was neither identifiable by dress nor by speech, being unconscious. The priest ignored him, the Levite looked and went away, but the Samaritan, a group hated by the Jews, went to someone who could have been a Jew … could have been anyone … and showed compassion.

This community, both in the time of Ted and today with the bi-weekly lunches amongst other activities, has been inspired by this parable, and by the life of Dorothy Day who gave refuge to the poor at personal effort. It is from this writing by Luke that we remember being introduced to the Greek word for “compassion” ” splanchizomai” (pronounced splakizimai (infinitive) splakma (noun) a word whose etymological root means innards or guts. This is the nature of the love we must experience for our fellow human being, a love that compels us to welcome the stranger into our hearts, at personal cost. It has nothing to do with a check-list, cheque-book definition of love – if I love God and do these good deeds to people I know are like me, I’ll surely get to heaven. No. Jesus says that when we can love another with a gut wrenching compassion, splanchizomai, we, in turn, will experience the nature of God’s love for us.

… the grace to shout …

Today we ask
the grace to shout
when it hurts,
even though silence is expected of us,
and to listen when others shout
though it be painful to hear;
to object, to protest, when we feel, taste, or observe injustice,
believing that even the unjust and arrogant
are human nonetheless
and therefore worthy of strong efforts to reach them.
Take from us, Guiding God, the heart of despair
and fill us with courage and understanding.
Give us a self that knows very well
when the moment has come to protest.
We ask the grace to be angry
when the weakest are the first to be exploited
and the trapped are squeezed for their meagre resources,
when the most deserving are the last to thrive,
and the privileged demand more privilege.
We ask for the inspiration to make our voice heard
when we have something that needs to be said,
something that rises to our lips despite our shyness.
And we ask the grace to listen when the meek finally rise to
and their words are an agony for us….

William Cleary, Psalm Services For Group Prayer, p.58)
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