RECONCILIATION

PARISH LENTEN RECONCILIATION


Reconciliation with Absolution will be celebrated Thursday March 18 at 7.30pm at St Anne’s Church. We can’t do face to face reconciliation due to covid restrictions.

A reflection on this Sunday’s Mass by Sr Kym Harris osb

A reflection on this Sunday’s Mass by Sr Kym Harris osb and downloaded from http://www.prayasyoucan.com.au

‘Well that gave me a lift!’ A lift is often what is needed when we are in dark, difficult places in our lives, needed when we are suffering, grumpy, overcome by being our small-mindedness or small heartedness, or even when we are just overwhelmed by our own selves. So what is the lift Jesus offers us? The glory of the Cross. Oh! That’s not quite what we want. We want ‘out, elsewhere, to something easier’. Jesus offers ‘through and up’ with him. Jesus challenges us with the vision that what we see as negative, simply isn’t only that. There is more in the situation we judge negatively because God is within that situation. If we believe that there is more to our difficulties, suffering, grumpiness, pettiness, ordinary situations, we will see more – we will see the light. If we are not open to the possibility of more, we will not be able to see – to be lifted up by the grace of God. The trick is to be open. The challenge is to see greater possibilities within the situation as it is now. One way of doing this is trying to imagine how aspects of the situation could work for good in our lives. Another is to ask what is positive in the situation. Another is to ask Jesus how he sees the situation. What we are looking for are the cracks that let in the light of Grace.

A reflection on this Sunday’s Mass by Sr Kym Harris osb

A reflection on this Sunday’s Mass by Sr Kym Harris osb and downloaded from http://www.prayasyoucan.com.au

If God put on a better show in church, the ratings would go through the roof. Imagine if at every Eucharist, our experience was like the Transfiguration – all of us stunned with the glory, filled with the most awesome fear, an experience so rich and wonderful that, like Peter, we want to stay permanently. Well, maybe not every week. With the assurance that it would happen once a year, many, many people would turn up each and every week. So why doesn’t God put on a better show? Why are those insights into the reality of God’s love so rare?

I don’t know. I do know that if I, and many of us, were running a religion we would make it much more attractive than what it mostly is. Much as we tend to blame the preaching, the translation, the choice of hymns or whatever, God could still put on a fireworks display… and doesn’t. What I’ve come to in my understanding is this. God wants us to:
Come freely offering the love of our hearts,
Come freely, even in the midst of ordinary life,
Come freely, in the midst of suffering,
Come freely, even when the shadows of this world fall away and we see the true reality of God’s love underpinning all reality.
True love is given freely and God treasures the true love of our hearts so much that he will not coerce our response in love.

THE OVERSEAS HUMANITARIAN PROJECT OF OUR PARISH

On this coming weekend (27/28 February) the special collection will be for the LAP Group who look after children living with HIV/AIDS in the very poorest slum areas of Jakarta Indonesia. You can see in the image above some of the children in a happy mood – despite the appalling conditions in which they live.
At this critical time for the LAP Team it’s worth reflecting on the challenges they face – in particular:
Over the past year Indonesia has been devastated by the Corona virus, causing deaths at a rate almost three times that of Australia on a per head of population basis.
This has created additional challenges for the LAP Team. For example, just in the past week we have learned that two of the LAP case managers had contracted the virus. Even worse, one of the LAP children became ill but the family were too afraid of the conditions at the hospital to take him in for treatment. Sadly, he subsequently died.

Due to the Victorian Corona restrictions, we have not been able to conduct any of the usual fundraising campaigns at Masses for the past year.

We are anxious to return our support for the children to pre-Corona levels – particularly as we understand that one of the Indonesian-based sponsors of LAP is unable to continue their financial support this year.
Your generous donations go directly to providing the crucial care these children need by way of milk and multi vitamin medication which are essential to maintaining their health.
Significantly, your contributions account for over 25% of the total LAP budget for this aspect of their work. THEY ARE THEREFORE AGAIN RELYING US in order to continue their work this year.
If you are unable to attend Mass on the weekend and would like to assist LAP with their work you can make a donation directly to the following parish account established specifically for contributions to LAP.

BSB 083347,

ACCOUNT NO. 546358602

ACCOUNT NAME: OLMC CHURCH ACCOUNT – LAP DONATION

Thank you for your wonderful generosity over the past seven years.

Parish LAP Fundraising Team.

A reflection on this Sunday’s Mass by Sr Kym Harris osb

A reflection on this Sunday’s Mass by Sr Kym Harris osb and downloaded from http://www.prayasyoucan.com.au

How can we tell bad from good? Too often we judge good and bad based on what is pleasant and congenial. Jesus’ time in the wilderness must make us pause. After he had received loving confirmation from the Father, the Spirit ‘drives’ ,‘casts out’ Jesus into the wilderness to be tested. Are the ‘beasts’ there good or bad? We don’t know. They could be a reminder of the idyllic time before the Fall when Adam lived in harmony with all of nature. If so, Mark is portraying Jesus as the new Adam bringing salvation. Mark could also be alluding to the image from Isaiah when all nature would be in such harmony that the lion would lie down with the lamb. But the ‘beasts’ could also be understood as friends of the demonic powers, set on terrifying Jesus. Most likely both meanings are intended.

In our lives there are many negative things we could call ‘beasts’ – chronic illness, addiction, unemployment, disability, etc. Are they good or bad? Given how they can undermine us and turn us in on ourselves, we would call them bad. Given the way grace can work through them, opening us to the love of God and others, we would call them good. Lent is a good time to let the Spirit drive us into our wilderness to meet our beasts. Only one thing we can be certain on, Jesus is with us. How will he tame our beasts? We can only wait and be ready for the time of grace.

A reflection on this Sunday’s Mass by Sr Kym Harris osb

A reflection on this Sunday’s Mass by Sr Kym Harris osb and downloaded from http://www.prayasyoucan.com.au

Taken any risks with your faith lately? My own tendency is to think that faith is something that should make us feel safe and with a well-developed faith we look to God for protection. But a genuine trust in God can make us act in other ways, ways that can led us to risk all that we have, even if it appears to be little.

The leper in this Sunday’s Gospel was an outcast. Yes, he had a skin disease but the people of his time understood this not as an illness but as a sign of his sinfulness. I can imagine him sitting destitute and despised on the fringes of his society, not allowed to come any closer than two metres to anyone, wondering what he had done to deserve this. Was he such a greater sinner than all his family and friends? Out there wondering, he well could have gone to the wild places of the spirit that questioned the interpretation of the law that had caused his situation. Hearing of this healer, Jesus, he would have pondered long and hard. Healing a leper was considered almost as great a feat as raising the dead. Then he came to his decision: he took the risk; he came back into society and found Jesus. What was truly amazing is that he did not ask Jesus for a cure. His words: “If you want to…” imply that he believed Jesus to have divine power. Sitting on the margins, taking the risk of coming back, had loosened his mind and heart to be open to the person of Jesus in a way that those comfortable in society were not.

A reflection on this Sunday’s Mass by Sr Kym Harris osb and downloaded from www.prayasyoucan.com.au

What’s your demon?

My father was a gambler – or so I have been told. Mum used to say, ‘Your father’s a gambler, that’s why he took up mushroom farming.’ It was only after he died that I learnt the story. He came from a poor family and having gotten a scholarship to university, he lost a lot of that money on the horses. Well, through sheer hard work he was able to stay at Uni but he never bet on the horses again. Early in life, he faced a demon squarely and judged how weak he was. And he was the better man for it.

We each and all have demons. Part of the genius of the 12 step programs is to get people to face them squarely. Our demons don’t have to be as obvious as addiction to alcohol, gambling or drugs. Anything that undermines the growth of life and love within us is a ‘demon’. The man Jesus cured in this Gospel was not a vicious low life. This was a respectable man who attended synagogue! So what was his demon – resentment, concern for respectability, fear of what others think? We need to face our demons because it is then that we will be open to the salvation that Jesus offers: life to the full. If our lives seem less than full, we need to come before Jesus and ask for the healing that he so wants to give us.

Miriam – Rose Ungunmerr – Baumann was named 2021 Senior Australian of the Year

Congratulations to Indigenous elder, artist and educator Dr Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann AM for being named the 2021 Senior Australian of the Year. Apart from her artwork, and work in education, she is perhaps best known for her reflections on dadirri – “inner, deep listening and quiet, still awareness”. Dadirri, she says, “is perhaps the greatest gift [Aboriginal Australians] can give to our fellow Australians… dadirri recognises the deep spring that is inside us. We call on it and it calls to us. This is the gift that Australia is thirsting for. It is something like what you call ‘contemplation’”. The following reflection on dadirri, which is a speech she gave in 2002 when she was Principal of a Catholic primary school in Daly River in the Northern Territory, also seeks to integrate dadirri with her faith as a Christian:

https://www.thelivingwater.com.au/blog/dadirri-our-greatest-gift-to-australia-says-indigenous-elder-and-2021-senior-australian-of-the-year

A reflection on this Sunday’s Mass by Sr Kym Harris osb

A reflection on this Sunday’s Mass by Sr Kym Harris osb and downloaded from http://www.prayasyoucan.com.au

‘Faith is a face to face vision in the dark.’
This paradoxical statement captures the ‘now and not yet’ of the reign of God. It presses in upon us, but like a presence in the dark, it is only felt, not seen. Personal and intimate, it entices us to live close to the heart of God yet we have little tangible evidence to ‘prove’ that it is there. We find it hard to describe, but we know the compulsion it places in the heart. To embrace such a life comes at a cost. Not one of silver or gold or the riches of this world but rather a giving up of our bondage to sin and the sub-human forces that can so easily dominate our lives.

Jesus’ emphasis throughout Mark’s Gospel will be on the transformation of the human heart that takes place when we turn from the bondage to Satan and freely accept a loving relationship with God. Make no mistake about it: Mark takes sin seriously. It binds us to sub human behaviour and in the face of its force, we are weak. But Jesus, the Strong Man, has come in on our side. The battle has been fought and won in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Now, we each have to ratify that victory in our hearts and lives.

A reflection on this Sunday’s Mass by Sr Kym Harris osb

A reflection on this Sunday’s Mass by Sr Kym Harris osb and downloaded from http://www.prayasyoucan.com.au

Freud said that despite thirty years of research into the feminine soul, he still couldn’t answer the question, what does a woman want? Maybe it is not only about women that the answer is unclear, but also for all of us. In this Sunday’s reading Jesus utters his first words in the Gospel of John: ‘What do you want?’ The verb Jesus uses is richer than our ‘want’ as it also includes the sense of ‘seek’ and ‘desire’. In other words, Jesus was asking those first two disciples, ‘What are the deepest longings of your hearts, the ones that determine the course of your life?’ Andrew and his companion found the question too difficult and deflected it with a question asking where Jesus lives!

Our longings and desires! They can be the energy that powers our lives along, and the force that derails us. We can ride on their strength and they can undermine our dreams. So how do we deal with these forces? If we peel back the layers of our longings and desires, even the ones that we call ‘bad’, even ‘evil’, we will eventually come to something good. Having been made in the image and likeness of God, our deepest desires bear the trace of grace. It is when our good desires become disordered that destruction takes place. For example, I have noticed that some people get caught in bad relationships, not out of desire for sex, but rather out of fear of loneliness…and what is loneliness but the desire for communion. How much suffering would have been averted if those people had known the skills of friendship? When we are being tossed by our desires, it is a good time to stop and ask, ‘Where is the face of God in this desire and how can this desire foster life?’

A reflection on this Sunday’s Mass by Sr Kym Harris osb

“John William Waterhouse(1849-1917), ‘The Annunciation’, 1914” by sofi01 is licensed with CC BY-NC 2.0.

A reflection on this Sunday’s Mass by Sr Kym Harris osb and downloaded from http://www.prayasyoucan.com.au

How people make decisions is a popular theme for current psychological research. For anyone who thinks they make wise decisions based on reason, the results are not looking good. We are more likely to be influenced by prejudice, emotion and impulse than we would like to admit. One way to counter our biases is by developing good habits of mind and heart.

So what has that got to do with the Annunciation? Many paintings, especially from the Renaissance period, show Mary not only at prayer but more especially reading the scripture at the time of the Angel’s greeting. What is implied is that the woman who said, ‘Be it done unto me according to your Word,’ had been trying to live according to the Word of God before she was faced with the momentous decision to become Mother of God. A lifetime, true a young person’s lifetime, of trying to see God at work in her ordinary life made her heart capable of making a decision that was beyond credulity. In the history of Israel that she had pondered, she saw God’s almighty love working in the most unlikely of places. Well she regarded herself as an unlikely person for God to work through but she trusted God’s power and love to do the impossible within her.

And what about us? If we are having trouble trying to find God’s Word for our lives, maybe we need to regularly try to find God’s Word in the small events of life. That is, we need to discipline our hearts in small things so that when big decisions come we are attuned to the heart of God. Morning offering, grace before and after meals, prayer for those we journey with to and from work – there are a multitude of ways we can be open to the Word of God spoken in the ordinary events of life. As we build the habit of shaping our lives according to the Word, we make ourselves ready for the times when God will call us beyond what we believe humanly possible but which we discover is more than possible for God.

A reflection on this Sunday’s Mass by Sr Kym Harris osb

A reflection on this Sunday’s Mass by Sr Kym Harris osb and downloaded from http://www.prayasyoucan.com.au

Rarely has someone in the spotlight worked so effectively to deflect attention from himself. The opening words of this Gospel describe John as a ‘witness’ and the series of responses that he gives to the questions of the Jews show the depth to which he sees his identity in relation to the person to whom he is to give witness. What is extraordinary is that, at this time, John didn’t know who the Christ would be, how he would act or even what type of Kingdom he would inaugurate. In all his responses he shows that he is capable of living a vocation which was largely undefined. But what he did know he was utterly faithful to. He knew a Messiah was coming who was greater, far greater, than himself and that the proper response to coming Messiah was to prepare – to make straight the way of the Lord.

Many of us have times when the calling of God within our lives can be unclear: times of transition, crisis or illness. The diminishments of age can bring this about. Until God makes things clearer there is nothing we can do…except be faithful to what we know we should do. Sometimes that can seem to amount to little. John the Baptist, in such a time, saw himself simply as a voice, a voice crying in the wilderness, a voice that was passed over once the Christ had come. But John needed nothing more: that was his fulfilment. He was the voice preparing for the Bridegroom, the one prepared to diminish, so that the Christ could increase, the one who could see that ‘it was all about Christ’.

A reflection on this Sunday’s Mass by Sr Kym Harris osb

https://www.flickr.com/photos/38854364@N00/1404253568 licensed with CC BY-SA 2.0
St. Mary’s Catholic Church, an historic church just north of Altus, Arkansas

Your own John the Baptists…
Why John the Baptist? All the Gospels give great importance to the person and preaching of John the Baptist. In the iconography (religious paintings) of the early Church he held a prominent position. But did Jesus really need him?
John the Baptist represents the culmination of the Old Testament. In him all the hopes and dreams of the Jewish people across the centuries find expression. But did God really need the Old Testament and Jewish history in order to offer salvation?
No, God didn’t need any of this. God could offer salvation personally and individually to any one of us. But God’s plan of salvation involves not merely the supreme human mediation given through Jesus but all the many other people through whom God choses to bring to us grace and love.
A prayer of thanksgiving often said in my community is for those who have brought our faith to where we are today. As a way of preparation for the coming of the Lord we would do well to recall the people who have formed our faith to what it is today. Perhaps it was grandparents, parents, teachers, the atheist who challenges or the friend who dies tragically – there are many different ways, both positive and negative, that God has used these people as channels of grace into our lives. As we recognise who they are and give thanks we make ourselves even more open to the coming of God in our lives.