Thoughts November 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

A Prayer of Peace

Time has come, the time is now
When love of God may unite us all.
Love of life is the universal call.
We must recognize we are from the same clay,
Live through the same breath, same God we obey

Where there is religious ego, let compassion prevail,
Where there is diversity, let unity excel,
Where there is bigotry, Let there be dignity
Where there is oppression, Set people free
May all people of religion unite, strands intertwined
Like a rope with which we can hang the big chandelier of Light –
And remove blinders of prejudice from everyone’s sight.

Where there is fanaticism, Let there be hope
Where there is injustice, Let there be faith,
Where there is politics, Let there be peace.
Oh, Divine Master Teach me to serve and not want to be served
Let the living truth live undisturbed.
Still the drums of war which cloud our perception
Let us hear your Word and follow your direction.
Fill our hearts with love for your creation
Dissolve our fears, bring peace to every nation.

From the Siri Singh Sahib, Chief Religious and
Administrative Authority for the Sikh Dharma of the Western Hemisphere,
Founder of The International Peace/Prayer Day

Esmey’s Commentary

Today’s gospel passage presents us with the basis of both Judaism and Christianity – so very simple yet, after literally thousands of years, we are still struggling to understand and practise this.

As Jesus himself puts it “You shall love your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind”.

The Jewish people both wore this commandment and had it on their door posts so it was before them all the time.

There were over 600 commandments and apparently the question of which was the greatest was an issue that was discussed often. Jesus’ response when the question was put to him was to quote from a citation from the Levitical code of justice implying that to love God is to refuse to exploit one’s neighbour and exploitation was precisely what was perpetrated by the system the scribes upheld. But justice is integral to the practice of the great commandment to love God. The commandment“You shall love your neighbour as yourself” ends in my Bible’s translation with “Your God is his” – we are all equal before God.

There are not two commandments but one with two parts or expressions. How can we say we love God if we do not love our neighbour, like me and you, also God’s own son or daughter “Your God is his/hers”?

What is this love?

St Paul tells us that Love is poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit – we are given something that is to be shared – thus love is not really one’s own activity, it is God’s activity.

How do we love God and love our neighbour?

Jesus’ call is to love AS he has loved – note that very small word AS – nothing less. How has he loved? Service at a very basic, everyday, unglamorous level – e.g. washing of feet, feeding those who are hungry, tending those who are sick, comforting those in distress, welcoming children, non-Jews, and people whom others ignore … it’s all laid out for us again in a few week’s time on the last Sunday of the year. If we do these things we are loving God and neighbour. This is Eucharist in practice – one’s body given for the other.

Some years ago a priest where I attended Mass at the time, in giving communion, would say, “You are the body of Christ”. I reflected a long time on this and realised that, yes, it is through my body, your body that another person can encounter Jesus – he has no hands but ours, he has no eyes, arms, feet but ours, the implication of this being that we must also be people of prayer so that God can find room in us to be and to act.

“Because God is the creator, redeemer, lover of the world, God’s own honour is at stake in human happiness. Wherever human beings are violated, diminished, or have their life drained away, God’s glory is dimmed and dishonoured. Wherever human beings are quickened to fuller and richer life, God’s glory is enhanced. A community of justice and peace (thriving among human beings) and God’s glory increase in direct and not inverse.”

“In order to rally people, governments need enemies. They want us to be afraid, to hate, so we will rally behind them. And if they do not have a real enemy, they will invent one in order to mobilize us.”

“To canonise someone, that person needs to have made a miracle – which is to say, something that defies the laws of nature, something that can come only from God. And so the question occurs to me: Is this the best way, the clearest way, that God reveals himself as God? I believe that the God of Jesus did something different. He showed himself, more than anything, with compassion and love for the poor, by welcoming the marginalized and the sinners. And that love is powerful. I do not know if it breaks the laws of nature. But it has the power to make us human: to change hearts of stone into hearts of flesh, affliction into joy, marginalization into family, lies into truth, weakness into commitment, and even — in many cases — to give life. Is this not God’s greatest ‘miracle’?”


The Pledge of Resistance

We believe that as people living in Australia it is our responsibility to resist the injustices done by our government, in our names.
Not in our name will you wage endless war there can be no more deaths no more transfusions of blood for oil.
Not in our name will you invade countries bomb civilians, kill more children letting history take its course over the graves of the nameless.
Not in our name will you erode the very freedoms you have claimed to fight for.
Not by our hands will we supply weapons and funding for the annihilation of families on foreign soil.
Not by our mouths will we let fear silence us.
Not by our hearts will we allow whole peoples or countries to be deemed evil.
Not by our will … Not in our name.
We pledge resistance.
We pledge alliance with those who have come under attack for voicing opposition to the war or for their religion or ethnicity.
We pledge to make common cause with the people of the world to bring about justice, freedom and peace.

‘Violence against women is perhaps the most shameful human rights violation. And it is perhaps the most pervasive. It knows no boundaries of geography, culture, or wealth. As long as it continues, we cannot claim to be making real progress towards equality, development, and peace’.
In the gospel today Jesus clearly affirms the centrality of both love of God and love of neighbour in a person’s life. Exodus, in the challenging examples, makes this love very concrete: aliens, widows and orphans are not to be oppressed. Interest is not to be demanded from the poor, to whom money is lent. These readings are in line with the preferential love for the poor. Preferential option for women of the world – who are the poorest, least educated and most productive of people.

Catholic Social Teaching holds that all men and women, all workers, deserve a just reward for their work. Wherever people work hard and do not enjoy a just wage, food security or appropriate benefits for themselves and their families, then something is amiss. This system is not endorsed by Jesus. The proposed workplace changes ‘WorkChoice’ by the Federal Government are precisely what Catholic Social Teaching does not endorse – and Jesus does not endorse this. Those who fail to respond justly are diminished as much as those who suffer these injustices. We are called, as Paul says, to become “children of the light and not the darkness”.

This is an excerpt taken from a poem by Sandra Bury When Death Begins to Call

The word went out that you were preparing to leave, to leave the place that you call home.
The word was heard by the wind and it promised to blow under you and push you.
The clouds heard the wind and billowed for joy.
“You may lean on us and float for a while.”
The rain said, “I’ll wash the air clean’ while each star polished
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