Thoughts July 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

Self Determination – Our Community – Our Future – Our Responsibility

NAIDOC 2004 – 4th to 11th July 2004

Let us remember Pope John Paul II, in his address to indigenous people,

“And the Church herself in Australia will not be fully the Church that Jesus wants her to be until you have made your contribution to her life and until that contribution has been joyfully received by others.”

This year’s NAIDOC theme “Self-Determination – Our Community – Our Future – Our Responsibility” is particularly timely at this stage in our history. The independent administration of Aboriginal organisations is under pressure and scrutiny all around the nation and some national media continue to campaign for the assimilation of our culture. As Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples we need now, more than ever, to stand up for our culture, our way of life and ourselves. As we celebrate the survival of our culture this year we must also focus on the challenges we are confronting during the next 10 years and beyond. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples also need the help and support of their fellow Australians to ensure that all of us have access to the same opportunities and a fair go. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples can only move forward, however, if they were allowed to consolidate upon the measure of self-determination already achieved during many decades of struggle. We are particularly keen, under the auspices of this year’s NAIDOC theme, to see all Australians thinking about the real aspirations of Indigenous Australians. NAIDOC Week provides the opportunity to recognise and celebrate Indigenous Australians’ rightful position in this Nation, andto imagine what might be achieved through a bipartisan and commonsense approach to Indigenous Affairs. During NAIDOC Week we should put aside our differences and demonstrate to the rest of the world our capacity as a nation to offer a new sense of optimism. NAIDOC Week also provides Indigenous Australians with the opportunity to promote among all Australians a sense of national pride and a commitment to our Nation and its future.

ATSIC website

Vicki Walker of NATSICC writes

“Within the framework of celebration and our faith, let us bring together all peoples to once again unite in the struggle to recognise, affirm and celebrate Australia’s indigenous peoples and culture. We cannot afford to let the efforts of the Council of Reconciliation fade into the distance before any real and lasting change has been effected, the struggle must continue…”

Prayer of the Aboriginal People

Father of all,
You gave us the Dreaming,
You have spoken to us through our beliefs,
You then made your love clear to us in the person of Jesus.
We thank you for your care.
You own us, you are our hope.
Make us strong as we face the problems of change.
We ask you to help the people of Australia to listen to us and respect our culture.
Make the knowledge of you grow strong in all people,
So that you can be at home in us and we can make a home for everyone in our land. Amen

Prepared by Aboriginal people for Pope John Paul II’s visit to Alice Springs 1986


Reflection

People serve in many ways. Some dedicate their entire life to service. Others serve when the opportunity arises. Some dedicate themselves to serving God or serving the planet. Some serve ideas, like truth, justice, or freedom. Some serve their families. Others seek to help the poor or the sick. Some serve the government. Some people are of service to animals. Some are of service to all sentient beings.

The urge to serve arises out of recognition of unity. I serve you because I see that you and I are connected. We are of the same stuff. We have the same sorts of feelings, aspirations, and disappointments. When we see the face of God in the eyes of a hungry person, we want to provide food. When we feel the pain of an animal in distress we want to save it. When we recognize the earth as our mother, we want to protect her. When you make yourself fully at home in the universe you naturally want to assist all who live there.

Meditation: How do I serve? Supplied by Claude Mostovik

A more fitting Crucifix

It seems appropriate that at the beginning of NAIDOC week there is a more fitting crucifix in St Vincent’s Church Redfern. We negotiated with the Neocatechumenate priests to exchange their ivory white Figure of Christ for a dark olive wood figure belonging to Ted Kenedy. It was carved in Obuammagau, Germany. Ted often said that a wooden crucifix was not needed in Redfern as we had the crucified Christ living in the suffering Aboriginal community in our midst. The Aboriginal writer, Jack Davis, wrote of this:

“You murdered me with rope, with gun,
The massacre my enclave,
You buried me deep on McLarty’s run
Flung into a common grave.
You propped me up with Christ, red tape,
Tabacco, grog and fears,
Then disease and lordly rape
Through the brutish years.
Now you primly say you’re justified,
And sing of a nation’s glory,
But I think of a people crucified –
The real Australian story”

Jack Davis,
Aboriginal Australian

Do you wish to honor the Body of Christ? Do not despise him when he is naked. Do not honor him here in the church building with silks, only to neglect him outside, when he is suffering from cold and from nakedness. For he who said, “This is my Body” is the same who said, “You saw me, a hungry man, and you did not give me to eat.” Feed the hungry and then come and decorate the table. The Temple of your afflected brother’s body is more precious than this Temple (the church). The Body of Christ becomes for you an altar. It is more holy than the altar of stone on which you celebrate the holy sacrifice. You are able to contemplate this altar everywhere, in the street and in the open squares.

St John Chrysostom
From Tissa Balasunya “The Eucharist and Human liberation” (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1979) pp.26-27
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