Thoughts September 2005

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

The passing of David McPhee

We were shocked to hear of the death of David McPhee as we arrived at St Vincent’s on Sunday 3rd Sept. David, who had been a regular at Sunday Eucharist this year, had passed away at work on Saturday. He was a good friend of Bruce Carroll who passed away earlier this year. Aunty Glady said, “In all the time I have known him he was a kind, gently spoken person.” David had completed his apprenticeship to become a qualified electrician. He was very knowledgeable about lots of subjects and contributed from his treasure trove of knowledge at the Monday evening gatherings at 63 Caroline St. Generally, he did not stay for the prayer part of the gathering but he did stay last Monday night, 29th August. David had been out of work a long time, having resigned from his job after some experiences of harassment. However, he recently took on a job with the Railway. To write his resume, he had done a lot of research to present it in the best possible way. His application and perseverance was a great asset. He was very happy in his new job that he had only been doing for a couple of weeks. He had passed a medical examination prior to getting the job so his sudden death was very unexpected. David often called in at the Gathering Place, especially in the months that he did not have a job, in order to boost his food supplies and sometimes have a meal there. He liked his food! He liked a little gamble now and then and was occasionally lucky! At other times, he would be seen him on The Block with the others, yarning. Clare had spoken to David after the Friday meditation and he was very happy about his new job. The last cameo of David was a wonderful memory of him ‘floating’ down the street, knowing that he had achieved what he’d worked so hard for. We are deeply saddened by David’s passing. We pray with all the Aboriginal community once again losing someone so young.

Esmey & Clare

September is the month we celebrate Social Justice Sunday. This year we celebrate on 25th September and the title of the Statement is “Living the Gospel in today’s Society”.

This is what we try to do at St Vincent’s. Here are some words to remind us of the importance of working for justice in our lives as Christians.

“Many Christians believe that such issues as world hunger, homelessness, the arms trade and war are political, not religious issues. Yet the words of Scripture and Catholic Social Teaching challenge us to live justly in today’s society by confronting such issues and working to change the structures that perpetuate injustice.”


“The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the people of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ. Indeed, nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in their hearts.”

Vatican Council II, Gaudium et Spes
the Church in the Modern World
Let each person examine one’s conscience, a conscience that conveys a new message for our times. Is each prepared to support out of one’s own pocket, works and undertakings organized in favour of the most destitute? Is each ready to pay higher taxes so that the government can do more for development? Is each ready to pay a higher price for imported goods so that the producer may be paid a just wage?

PaulVI: Populorum Progresio
On the Development of Peoples, 47

Cardinal Sin, Manila, the Philippines, 2003 said,

“My duty is to put Christ in politics. Politics without Christ is the greatest scourge of our nation.”

There are many situations of injustice that we come across in our everyday lives. And there are numerous ways in which we are and can be the light of Christ in our world. Among the issues addressed by the Bishops in the Social Justice Sunday Statement is the amount of wealth and possessions we waste in a world where poverty affects billions of people. A life of affluence can mean a culture of waste – it can also mean a culture of busyness in which the important things in life are neglected as we work longer and harder.

Words for Reflection

John O’Donohue – “Divine Beauty” p.85 ‘The quest for the truth of things is never ending… Every experience is open to countless readings and interpretations… . The search for truth is difficult and uncomfortable. Because the mystery is too much for us, we opt to settle for the surface of things. Comfort becomes more important than true presence. This is precisely why we need to hear the discerning voice.

Somewhere in every heart there is a discerning voice. This voice distrusts the status quo. It sounds out the falsity in things and encourages dissent from the images things tend to assume. It underlines the secret crevices where the surface has become strained. It advises distance and opens up a new perspective through which the concealed meaning of a situation might emerge. The inner voice makes any complicity uneasy. Its intention is to keep the heart clean and clear. This voice is an inner whisper not obvious or known to others outside. It receives little attention and is not usually highlighted among a person’s qualities. Yet so much depends on that small voice.

The truth of its whisper marks the line between honour and egoism, kindness and chaos. In extreme situations, which have been emptied of all shelter and tenderness, that small voice whispers from somewhere beyond and encourages the heart to hold out for dignity, respect, beauty and love. That whisper brings forgotten nobility into an arena where violence has traduced everything. This faithful voice can illuminate the dark lands of despair. It becomes both the sign and presence of a transcendence that no force or horror can extinguish.

Each day in the world, in the prisons, hospitals and killing fields, against all the odds, this still, small voice continues to echo the beauty of the human being. In haunted places this voice carries the light of beauty like a magical lantern to transform desolation, to remind us that regardless of what may be wrenched from us, there is a dignity and hope that we do not have to lose. This voice brings us directly into contact with the inalienable presence of beauty in the soul.’

Commentary for August 14, Twentieth Sunday of the Year

Today in our readings we are challenged to look at equality. We focus in the gospel on a woman – a Canaaite woman. She is like many women today who feel excluded especially from the table of worship or those who struggle to care for others – children, family, parent, etc, or like the single parents who are unable to procure good health care for their children; like those just left out because of their national or ethnic background; and like those who are intimidated by authority.

The wonderful thing about this story is that this woman doesn’t let the traditional place of women stop her. She challenges the rigid rules, she keeps talking, she, actually addresses Jesus, a teacher. The apostles are embarrassed and want her shut up for their own selfish needs. How often are we embarrassed when someone speaks out for others or for Justice. Jesus ignores her but this woman knows that she must have courage. She is speaking for her daughter – so often this is what women do – speak for others.

Then, when Jesus responds she is able to respond to him with intelligence and Jesus very clearly lets us know what he thinks. It’s like “Wow, what faith this woman has!” Jesus does not condemn her.

Sometimes when there is the need to speak up we can feel it is not the appropriate time or place but we believe that we must. It may be for another, or it maybe when we see injustice and or when it seems that people who we would expect the right, ethical response from, are silent or in some instances work against justice. It seems that what is required of us is to have faith – faith in the knowledge of the God of Love who we believe in and faith in what Jesus has not only taught but also lived out in gospel values.

Warren Carter writes: “ …Jesus overcomes ethnic, cultural, political, gender and religious barriers.”… “They’ll know we are Christian by our love” – not by hate, not by fear, not be excluding anyone. We keep drawing circles where only ‘me and mine’ belong. We can think the circles will keep ‘us’ safe and keep ‘them out’ – whoever they may be.

God keeps drawing bigger circles. God’s circles are meant to invite people in. Lucky for us, otherwise we might find ourselves on the outside. There is a wonderful phrase “the wild extravagance of God”. Let us be ‘wildly extravagant’ as God, and show this in the way we live out the gospel values of Jesus.

Marnie’s Commentary on September 3

included this quote that Ted had stated in St Vincent’s Church

“For us whites, Reconciliation starts not with guilt but with the acknowledgment of the truth. Unspeakable atrocities were perpetuated. Guilt is a wasted emotion; it cannot be passed down, for Christ has taken guilt away….Shame is another matter. We do share the shame… It is true that shame brings its own embarrassing confusion. But there is a single exit from that confusion… When Aborigines notice that we non-Aborigines are beginning to see that our liberation is bound up with theirs, the healing power of TRUTH will begin to set each of us free.”

Also included was a quote from Tich Nat Hanh

“The root of terrorism is misunderstanding, hatred and violence. This root cannot be located by the military. Bombs and missiles cannot reach it, let alone destroy it. Only with the practice of deep listening and compassion can it be transformed and removed. We need a collective awakening to stop this course of self- destruction.”

St Francis of Assisi – Tuesday October 4

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