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
LIFT OUR SPIRITS
- Poster by Benjamin Hodges
Sometimes our culture
may seem as though it is a heavy burden. Sometimes
to exist and gain acceptance in a non-indigenous
society, we question the importance of our culture.
Would it be easier to leave it behind? Our culture
is not excess baggage we can freely dispose of.
objects represent the non-indigenous society.
I have chosen a smoother and rounded 3-dimensional
this shape rolls ahead with ease regardless
of surface, environment or where it is placed.
huge cube represents Indigenous culture. It
appears to be heavy to lift and would be easier
it behind as it is a lot more complex to move
without assistance. Although the cube is larger
in size its contents symbolise a personal significance.
The size and colour differences also have meaning.
The smaller balls appear metallic and cold
whereas the cube is visually vibrant and loud
sense of warmth. The shadows also play an important
part. As the sun rises from the east, this
represents indigenous people moving toward a
bond with immediate and extended family members
and giving nature is our fashion. We are identified
by our language, customs and dance. We have
a future because of our histories bloodline and
by working together in unity we carry our culture
and lift our spirits.
Returning from my trip and hearing the events of Redfern, sent me to ask some questions. “Why do I keep going to St. Vincent’s Church?” Why not walk away- you won’t win, the Church is too powerful. Why put up with the abuse, lies and lack of communication? It got me reflecting on the land. One of the integral gifts I have been given by Aboriginal people is to enter into some understanding of their relationship with land. It touches so deeply into their spirituality – it is their spiritually or so that is how it seemed to me when I first met Aboriginal people especially in Wilcannia. Being brought up in the Catholic Church where the dualism of Spirit and Matter placed this idea of land outside my perspective of spirituality - maybe I should say religion- it took awhile for me understand and appreciated this relationship.
St Vincent’s Church over the many years I have
come to know the sacredness of this place. It is
not just another church, or a block of real estate.
It is a sacred place. As we were reminded at the
Candle light March on the Block so many of the
ancient ones have lived on this land. For the Eora
people it was their mother. Isobel Coe and Aunty
Ali Golding reminded us of the ancients ones who
were there with us.
The land where St
Vincent’s Church Presbytery and the Aboriginal
( the building and land were given by the Mercy
Sisters) is not just a place to fight over. When
Father Ted arrived at Redfern he began a journey
which is the heritage of St Vincent’s Church
of Redfern – it is a special place, a place where
people have lived, died, been married from, have
been baptised, been sheltered from the racist
of many; a place where all were welcomed, a place
where culture was respected and accepted. It
was a place where forgiveness occurred when many
people were confronted with the true history
of our country and were able to acknowledge this
seek forgiveness and reconciliation. This enabled
so many to then commit to work for Justice for Indigenous people. It allowed friendships to be made and the richness of life to be shared.
We could never walk
away from this church where so much life has been
lived. The focus of this community is justice for
Indigenous people. This is what keeps us there
even though it is very hard we know it could never
be as hard it has been for the Aboriginal people
of this land. The choice to stay is about a glimpse
which we as non-aboriginal people have been given
- the glimpse of land as sacred, as relationship,
as mother – the glimpse of a deep understanding
and love for the land which not only contains their
story but is their story.
“I have a dream of
a Church that is a Holy Door, which embraces everyone,
which is full of compassion and understanding for
all the sufferings of humanity. I have a dream
of a Church that is bread; Eucharist, that wishes
to be a gift and allows itself to be consumed by
all, so that the world will have a life in abundance.
I have a dream of a Church that carries in its
heart the fire of the Holy Spirit, and where the
Spirit is; there is liberty, sincere dialogue with
the world, discernment of the signs of the times.”
Words spoken by Cardinal Francois Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan, former President of the Pontifical council for Justice and Peace, a man who spent 13 years in a communist prison in Vietnam, nine of them in solitary confinement.
gave me this poem by Michael Leunig
God help us
To rise up from our
Like a tree rises up from the soil.
Our roots reaching down to our trouble,
Our rich, dark, dirt of existence
And holding us firmly - Always connected
Growing upwards and into the sun. Amen
Today’s readings and gospel are exhortations to trust in God and to have faith and commitment. Trust that we are empowered to do God’s bidding: “You yourselves have seen how I carried you on eagle’s wings and brought you to myself” said God to Moses in the first reading.
In the second reading we are told
that we are reconciled with God by the death
of God’s son and that therefore we can trust
God that by having been reconciled we have had
the tools of liberation provided for us. This
then frees us to let go of all unnecessary trappings.
These teachings occur within a
context of oppression: the Jews were an oppressed
minority struggling to maintain
their identity which they were doing by strict
religious rule, especially by the uncaring
imposition of the draconian purity laws which
deemed to be unworthy. Jesus scorns and challenges
this code; acting instead in a way that includes
and liberates those he called “the lost sheep”
– the outcasts. He is inclusive and urges his
fellow Jews to get their own house in order
before worrying about Gentiles or Samaritans.
is a radical and unwelcome message to those
who have thrived on the misuse of power and used
it to exclude others. The Jewish leaders of
time were threatened by this message. They
did not trust enough to let go of the unnecessary
trappings and the great power they wielded
those they had marginalised. Rather than recognise
that the liberation of the oppressed was intrinsic
to their own liberation, they hung on to their
own powerful props and turned on Jesus.
the ages we humans have not learnt a great
deal from these teachings and have failed to
that we are already cared for and reconciled
with God. We have instead, often in the name
of Christianity, continued to dream up bigger
and better ways to exclude, marginalise and
ethnically cleanse. We have been carried on
and sent out to bring in the “lost sheep”-
the outcasts. This prohibits in any way the
unjust and irresponsible use of power and the oppression and exclusion of minorities or of those who are in any way defined, by the powerful, as “other. Why then does institutional power continue to be used not only as an end in itself but to cast out the lost sheep and the outcasts rather than the demons? Our own sad white Australian history, writ large in Redfern, is the embodiment of these stories in our own time
Letter from Bob Carr,
Premier of New South Wales
Marnie Kennedy has
received literally hundreds of letters and phone
calls from well-wishers
following Ted's death, including this one from
Collated by Sheila Quonoey