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.
Excerpts from some Sunday Commentaries
Today’s gospel … is a story – Something made up to deliver a message. I think the message might be ‘Lets be open to challenge – even when, as in this case, the arguments put forward by the ones who look like the “good guys” appear to reflect a fair go and justice. The challenge of the gospel is “Why are you jealous because I am generous? … the workers who worked for a day being paid the same amount and being given the same status as the johnnie–come–latelys who worked for an hour!!!!! Well what’s the deal? – Where is the fulfilment of the Australian standard of a fair–go??
So we are confronted by the challenge of the topsy-turvey. In the psalm we hear of the great compassion and love of God. And not only is this love and compassion sufficient, it is abundant and it comes without a deal. There is no prior agreement. It is unconditional and the concept of a fair-go doesn’t really come into it!!! More food for thought.
Today’s readings talk about the independence of food and economics; fulfilment and loneliness. In Isaiah we hear how thirst can be quenched with water, wine and milk and how our bellies can be satisfied with loaves and fish. Yet the readings are far from advocating gluttony!
Nourishment is interwoven with concepts of economy.
- water and corn are available – with no money
- wine and milk –at not cost.
- Jesus says to his disciple not to send the people to the village to buy their food
Jesus asks his disciples to trust, not in an abstract idea, but in adopting new actions, new behaviours. The language is clear: it’s not about buying a meal for another; but sharing your meal together.
Dorothy Day did this; Ted Kennedy in this church. Sharing food is not easy; much more comfortable doing things for others not with them. Lastly this new economy is not about individuals proclaiming power, but deep sharing is given as the antidote to loneliness.
We Christians have heard about the loves and fish for 2000 years but we still find the thought of an economy based on love and sharing ridiculous, naive and personally ruinous!
Commentary for 22nd Sunday
I found it very revealing to look through ‘World Press Photos 2005.’ The scenes, the settings, the faces and the stories behind those faces seem to tell it all. A child at the breast of her mother in Darfur waiting to return to a hideaway to avoid being killed by the militia. A young aids orphan standing in an empty field in South Africa. She herself being an aids carrier. A prostitute in Copenhagen injecting cocaine into the vein of a girl friend. A street scene in Wiluna, 1000 kilometers N-E of Perth, with poverty, substance abuse and alcohol ever present.
Why mention the above scenes as we seek to find a meaning for today’s readings? Because as I ponder the readings the theme that comes across is that of fidelity – a fidelity to our true identities. We need to discover who we really are. Paramount to this is living with the tensions that come from opposition. This I believe is the crux of living out the Gospels.
I feel that it is imperative that we are able to use the parable of the Good Samaritan as a yardstick for our actions in life. If we remember the parable we know that in our hearts the sin of the Levite and the Priest was not so much that they passed by the broken man but that it was their religion that made them do so.
In today’s Gospel Jesus in his inimitable way sets Peter straight. The latter cannot accept the idea of suffering and the cross. He is telling his friends what the real meaning of Christ is all about. He will have to show up in Jerusalem and he must suffer and die and if they, his followers, are to be faithful to their relationship with him they will have to do the same. ‘Losing’ and ‘gaining’, ‘saving’ and ‘finding’ are very powerful words.
His “Cross” was more than the wood of Calvary, it was the flesh and spirit, the history and destiny of his whole life. He offers to us the totality of which we are, in the personal embrace that he alone can give. For us as a community it is when we can absorb into ourselves a sense of communion with the poor and the afflicted, knowing them, as a part of ourselves that we know, that life will never be the same again.
We become a voice for the voiceless, ready to speak the truth when it even sounds absurd, we seem to become non-conformists, not quite fitting in and we can even be seen as slightly ‘bonkers’. That is what following the Gospel is about and what Jeremiah is living out as a precursor to Jesus.
Commentary for 27th Sunday
Today’s gospel, about a vineyard, causes us to reflect on the many gifts we have been granted. The central message is to care for and share our vineyard’s fruits generously, however this is often either misconstrued or completely evaded, especially in our current times. Through this story, Jesus endeavors to get those listening to him to recognize how they have mistreated and often deserted the gifts they have received. These include: fertile land and companionship. Nowadays, this is evident in the way we refuse to share with asylum seekers and the poor and marginalized and the way we waste resources and abuse creation.
Neo–conservatism in our current days has progressed to new levels. It is indeed frightening, the way in which our obsessions with material things as well as the individual pursuit of wealth and power have manifested. Yet one can ask, is our vineyard, which currently seems to have a gross fixation on the conservation of such wealth and power, really in tune with the song that Isaiah sang? This love song which Isaiah has for the vineyard starts beautifully and melodically. However, it spirals into a shambolic clump of notes and tone–deficient chords, then journeys into a mystified stage and ends on the ascent, back to a new melody – evidence of a change beginning in the mindset of the chief priests.
Closer to our time is the story of St. Francis of Assisi whose feast day we celebrate on Tuesday. His life was one of service and love to God’s creation and the fruits of the Earth. Isaiah’s love song was heard again when St. Francis picked up the notes, in his love and care for his vineyard. We too are invited to join the chorus.
by Johann Arnold
Excerpt from preface by Thich Nhat Hanh
To work for peace, you must have a peaceful heart. When you do, you are a child of God. But many who work for peace are not at peace. They still have anger and frustration, and their work is not really peaceful.
To preserve peace, our hearts must be at peace with the world, with our brothers and our sisters. We often think of peace as the absence of war, that if the powerful countries would reduce their arsenals, we could have peace. But if we look deeply into the weapons, we see our own minds – our prejudices, fears, and ignorance.
It is something I try to remember as I ride a subway or bus, or walk down the crowded streets , or stand in slow- moving lines at the supermarket. If God’s peace is in our hearts, we carry it with us, and it can be given to those around us, not by our own will or virtue, but by the Holy Spirit working through us. We cannot give what we do not have, but if the spirit blows through the dark clouds, and enters our hearts, we can be used as vehicles of peace, and our own peace will be thereby deepened.
The more peace we give away, the more we have …
The Gentle Water Bird
by John Shaw Neilson
Long have I learned that all his speech was true;
I cannot reason it – how far he flew –
God is not terrible nor thunder-blue.
Sometimes, when watching in the white sunshine,
Someone approaches-I can half define
All the calm beauty of that friend of mine.
Nothing of hatred will about him cling:
Silent – how silent – but his heart will sing
Always of little children and the Spring.
In the dim days I trembled, for I knew
God was above me, always frowning through,
And God was terrible and thunder-blue.
Even the gentle flowers of white and cream,
The rainbow with its treasury of dream,
Trembled because of God’s ungracious scheme.
There was a lake I loved in gentle rain:
One day there fell a bird, a courtly crane:
Wisely he walked, as one who knows of pain.
Gracious he was and lofty as a king:
Silent he was, and yet he seemed to sing
Always of little children and the Spring.
Pity was in him for the weak and strong,
All who have suffered when the days were long,
And he was deep and gentle as a song.
David Alexander McPhie
18th Oct 1953 – 3rd Sept.2005
David was a multi talented sportsman as a youngster. He was age champion in track and field at every high school he went to which numbered five. No, he didn’t get expelled from any of them it was just that the family moved around a fair bit early on because of his father’s work in the railway.
He excelled in schoolboy rugby league making many representative teams including state secondary school trials but just missed out on a place in the state team. He was the team goal kicker and in one game he kicked 9 out of 90. He was an amateur heavyweight boxer in his teenage years and never lost a fight against even those older and more experienced opponents. Mind you he didn’t like the egg flip his coach recommended he have. I have never seen anything come back up faster than it went down. He never tried another of the coach’s culinary tips after that. He used to run the 16kms to training a few times a week even in the rain. When he committed himself to something he always followed it through.
He was selected by the Fitzroy River Lions Club into the Lions International Youth of the Year contest when he was 16 and was a school prefect at North Rockhampton High.
David was very intelligent and became a primary school teacher in 1975 and taught at St John Fisher’s Boy’s Primary School in Townsville for a while. He however decided that the restrictive way of teaching at a Catholic school was not his style as he preferred the more hands on approach to teaching. He also coached cricket at the school and was popular with the students.
He worked for a while at radio Redfern where he was an announcer and he enjoyed his time at the station. This was for a period during the eighties.
He always had it in his mind that he wanted to be an electrician and he started his basics electronic certificate in 1986 and eventually did his apprenticeship with the Sydney Power Board in his 40’s. He went on to work at Australia Post maintaining the machines in the mail sorting exchange. Apparently, one day one of the machines broke down and David decided that he would take it apart to find out what was wrong with it. And, if you have ever seen him pull something apart you would never think that he would get it back together. He found a gold coin that someone had sent through the mail and it had jammed the machine and yes, he did get it back together again.
David liked to study and was always doing some Certificate or Diploma and was just starting to do an Electrical Engineering Degree. He had only recently started work with Rail Corp in NSW which was ironic as his father only ever had one job and that was with Queensland Rail. He was very excited about the job even though it took them 5 months to get him started after he was accepted. Unfortunately he only had 3 weeks in the job but in that short time made many new friends who spoke very highly of him.
He was a very patient person unlike his sister who sometimes found it very annoying when he wouldn’t get into an argument about something with her. No matter how hard she tried he just wouldn’t take the bait. He has been described by many who knew him as a gentle giant – quiet, patient and giving. He would give his last $10 to someone as he always thought that person needed it more than he did. He was never motivated by material possessions and lived a simple life and mixed well with anyone on any level.
We spoke to many people who had seen him the night before he passed away and they all said that he was very happy and he was out celebrating, getting his first pay packet from his new job.
He had also won a couple of hundred dollars in the members draw at his local RSL. He always had the family lucky streak in that respect. He was looking forward to a new future with a new job in his field of electronic systems and had made many notes on plans he had for his future.
He will be missed by his family and many friends.
In keeping with David’s Aboriginal heritage,
Family will place gum leaves and soil from his
Traditional land over him.
This will help guide David to the Dreamtime.
David’s traditional birthright
On his mother’s side is Kalkadoon.
And his grandfather’s is Pitta-Pitta
Farewelling David into the Dreamtime.
The beginning of a walkabout. The Aborigine dreams
he must go on a walkabout. A musical description
of the sounds he hears in his dreams.
Goodbye David – Rest in Peace