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.
is Worthy?" Ted Kennedy
FEAST OF THE ASSUMPTION
by HELEN REAGAN
Revelations 11:19; 12:1-6. 10.
first reading is filled with amazing imagery.
hear about the universe of which we are a part. We
hear about women, pregnancy, life, and the source
of life - women; and the risk of life in the dragon.
is a risk of life still today in our world of science.
A woman and a baby can still die in birth. Sometimes
science, logic, order, and rationale give us a false
sense of security.
is risk taking in this life that is of life. A baby
in its first week of life with its mother (and a supportive
father close by, hopefully more these days) is often
chaotic. Nurses who come to work on postnatal in the
hospital where I work with the mothers and babies
have been heard to say they prefer to work elsewhere
due to this chaotic nature.
the first day of life a baby just wants to "sleep
it off" usually - the birth that is. So does
the mother but cannot because she is so elated or
wound up and she wonders why the baby does not feed
and what is wrong. On about the third day the baby
wants to fed non-stop on the little but rich colostrum
and the mother thinks "What's wrong, I just fed
you?". When the milk does come she feels she
could feed every baby in the hospital because she
has so much.
a mother chooses to feed her baby, this first week
is often described as erratic, and the mother is reassured
and supported. This experience can be painful, one
of struggle and overwhelming. Amidst all this uncertainty
there is also joy, wonder, beauty.
is out of chaos and sometimes in it, the life happens.
And so the power of the scared is not a static power
of law and order but a dynamic energy that disturbs
and disrupts the necrophilic (morbid) patterns of
human ordering and prevents the sterility of idolatry
by keeping everything in a creative flux.
the first reading we also hear about the desert as
a haven. Usually the desert is often portrayed as
a place of challenge, aloneness, banishment, a place
of deep spirituality and nourishment. But here it
is a place of safety.
this world sometimes people create a desert where
there is not enough of food, security, dignity and
basic human respect for one another. Sometimes this
pain is humanly unbearable and people are driven to
desperate measures, only then to be put down and denied
yet again like salt in the wound.
in our need and our longing that if we come together
to help each other and share with each other that
the desert can be a haven. This is the kind of life
is also described as victory, power and empire. Christ
spoke about this with the authority of truth and compassion.
He also lived this truth, sharing his life with the
poor, the marginalised, the dispossessed - this being
the closest place we will find in this world to the
kingdom of heaven.
the second reading we hear of Christ being first -
and so - that being of which we are invited to take
part every moment of every day.
does away with the sovereignty, authority and power
of this world. The word "sovereignty" especially
reminds me of land - of the land of this country.
Two hundred years ago colonial invasion assumed the
right to take what was not theirs, defending this
only on greater physical power and arrogance of its
own laws. It took over the land and the lives of its
aboriginal people. The world and its people are a
gift from God to be shared. Sadly, this stealing still
occurs today in Australia and elsewhere. And so we
all suffer as these gifts are not in their rightful
our over-ordered, too comfortable lives there is an
unnecessary and increasing anxiety, health problems;
and crime and violence as the gap increases between
rich and poor.
the gospel today we hear about women and their story
of courage. Elizabeth is pregnant with John, and Mary
with Jesus. They meet each other on common ground
- their circumstances being unusual, to put it mildly.
Elizabeth is beyond child bearing age. Mary is not
married - unacceptable to the point of death in her
time. But God is capable of the impossible and Mary's
Magnificat brings this out.
Mary and Elizabeth meet, John the baby leaps for joy
in Elizabeth's womb and she is thrilled to see Mary
and acknowledges her son and God. Elizabeth acknowledges
her marginalised state of being pregnant but not married.
We do not know where Joseph is. Perhaps in his natural
reaction he has run away to work things out. And thankfully
does so by the time of the birth.
is amazing what an unborn baby takes in. A baby knows
its mother's voice at birth because its whole body
takes in the vibration of the mother's voice when
she speaks. The baby has done this in the womb and
so does the same thing outside the womb. A baby knows
its mother's voice not from hearing with its ears
but with its whole body. It has taken in the vibration
in the womb and so already knows her voice outside
it is this leaping of joy that I love - this humanness
- God in humanity. Because when we are in a situation
of waiting for a joyful moment to happen, we all can
experience that sense of anticipation and excitement.
knows her state in the world and she knows God's love
for her is greater than worldly acceptance and so
she praises God. She then goes on to list all those
in the world who are not accepted in the world, but
loved by God.
is not because of our status in this world - religious,
cultural or social that we are loved by God. Instead
it is when we are without them that we are more likely
to know God's love as we come together in our need.
To do this we need to see the truth, let go, trust
and allow ourselves to be vessels of light for each
other in the dark. Sadly, too often we are taught
to be afraid of the dark rather than believe in the
light in the dark. Having said that I think it was
Nelson Mandela who said it is the light we are not
afraid, not the dark
will plant olive trees
there were thorns.
of us the same,
each one of us different,
we will walk hand in hand
with a new song,
of love on our lips……
Mayor Spanish Director General, UNESCO, France
Griffin reflects back over the beginning of
the story of St Vincent's and highlights two
very different understandings of Conversion
humanity will only begin to blossom when you come
into intimate contact with the lives of the poor.
The poor, by virtue of their lower state, will not
You must find ways to seek them out. From them, and
in their presence, you will discover much about humanity.
Without realising it themselves, they will be your
You will learn a lot about suffering, about patience,
about hunger and trust, about sharing, about community,
just by observing them with an open heart……….
At the same time as you make these discoveries, you
will come to a better understanding of your own weakness
existing within yourself.
Far from being fearful of this discovery, you will
experience a sense of liberation, because the true
self encompasses the complete range of positive and
negative forces. Allowing yourself to acknowledge
and reflect upon this ongoing revelation is helpful
in making real choices.
the years, we have come to experience a "disarmed"
church, yes, a "poor" church. It is poor
precisely so that it might be a church for, of and
with the poor. In our experience of this, we are given
much reason to reflect well on some very basic stuff.
For one thing, as we enter the gateway of the church,
we are confronted always by the presence of a begging
subculture of people whose very existence is a confronting
and disarming reality. The experience for me is one
of embarrassed powerlessness. I realise more and more
that my embarrassment is appropriate. The sense of
powerlessness, I now know, is a sham.
who enter the church for OUR spiritual nourishment,have
to walk past the people whose spiritual life IS the
very land upon which the church stands! We are like
Dives (the rich ones) going to partake of our spiritual
wealth (in the Eucharist of Thanksgiving) who walk
past the spiritually robbed Lazarus who is poor precisely
because the wealth of Dives requires the poverty of
Aboriginal Spirituality, the People and the Land are
crushed spirit of the people of the Land confronts
the spiritual opulence of we who enter to give thanks
in the Eucharist at St Vincent's. Part of the enculturation
of going to St Vincent's involves being confronted
by the "great chasm (which) has been fixed"
(by whom (?), we might well ask) " between Dives
and Lazarus. (Luke 16.26).
is a comment in Mathew (Ch 5.v23/24) which sums up
our plight. Our brother, Christ, has something against
us. Like Dives, we have that-which-our-brother (the
Aboriginal Christ) has not. We are slow to understand
the true nature of the fire which touches us as we
enter the church. Saints of Heaven: Ora pro Nobis.
what is at St Vincent's today began with Ted Kennedy.
Whilst it is necessary to say something about the
man, it is indispensable to realise that the journey
of that one man is in truth a journey undergone (and
continues to be so) by many.
know Ted and his personal story well enough to know
that his pre Redfern days were marked by an ongoing
and at times traumatically challenging path of conversion.
That is to say, the contemporary and inherited theological
ground upon which he stood was challenged and found
to be wanting. It is not too much to say that when
challenged by the history of the Church in its relation
to the Gospel itself, Ted found it necessary to jettison
much ecclesiastical and for that matter, High Christological
baggage. It is important however, not to settle for
a preoccupation with Ted himself. I say again: what
was true of Ted in terms of his pre Redfern days can
be found to be true of many who come to St Vincent's.
we come to a central truth about St Vincent's. For
those who are open to it the conversion to Gospel
living continues, but it does not come from the Church.
conversion to Gospel living comes from being open
to and being converted by the Christ of The Poor.
The community at St Vincent's accepts that Christ
is present in the person(s)-and challenges us to change
in so far as we are locked into our protective ecclesiological
shells. We cannot know Him as and where He truly is.
This is contrary to where we want Him to be. Simply
put, we come to St Vincent's to be converted by the
Christ who identifies Himself with "the least
of these" (Mathew 25/45).
we come to the core of why the community at St Vincent's
cannot accept the theology of the Neo Catechumenate.
The Neo Catechumenate is purposed to conversion of
itself by an inward looking heavily structured High
Christology (hence the podium) and its call for change
is in the direction of very clearly laid down rules
and precepts of the Church as they understand it.
Theseregulations have nothing to do with the people
of Redfern. The call to conversion as understood by
the Neo Catechumenate here is precisely away from
seriously suggest that a rapprochement is possible
is to suggest that both groups abandon their own core
purpose for the sake of a false and dubious peace,
based primarily on bad faith. Both groups seek conversion.
The contemporary inspiration for conversion of each
group is from opposite directions.
Us Beyond Our Comfort Zones
of us need to be taken beyond our comfort zone. That
is where we find human growth and human authenticity.
That is where we find love, justice and community.
That is where we find hope for ourselves and our world.
That is where we find our God. Jesus looked at the
rich young man with compassion and invited him to
move beyond the comfort zone of his current lifestyle……
from Sandhurst Diocese Catholic Education Conference
Frank Brennan SJ
Collated by Sheila Quonoey