• Homilies,  Year B

    First Sunday of Advent – 2020

    The Russian journalist, Anna Politkovskaya, who was murdered in Moscow some years ago, wrote in her book, Putin’s Russia, “There is a part of every society that wants nothing more than to be lulled into sleep.”[1]   It was a striking statement about how there is a part of us which does not want to know too much.  It is a sad, but true, observation that we cannot bear too much reality.  We seek to shield ourselves from reality, not to take too close an interest in things, or we simply overlay complex situations with our own prejudices and biases. The problems that swirl around us – especially in respect to all the ramifications of…

  • Homilies,  Sunday,  Year A

    28th Sunday in Ordinary Time

    We might be inclined to consider the key to the Gospel we have heard lies with the radical inclusivity demonstrated by the king.  Not put off by the disinterest of some, – a disinterest which could have easily resulted in a reclusive despondency – he opens wide the doors of the palace, with even more enthusiastic invitation and hospitality.  And certainly, the parable speaks of a wonderful largesse to demonstrate the hospitality of God which welcomes all.  However, I want to suggest that the real key to the parable lies in the very simple phrase hidden in the midst of the story:  “When the king came in to look at the guests”  Given…

  • Homilies,  Sunday,  Year A

    27th Sunday in Ordinary Time

    I am sure that some of us have heard of the clergyman who lived in a town that was hit by a major flood. The water was a foot deep in his living room.  Some parishioners in a boat rowed up to his door, asking him to join them. “No, go ahead,” he said.  “I’ll be just fine.  God is taking care of me.”  So, they left. Then, the water rose to the second floor.  Back came the anxious parishioners in the boat. And they asked him to join them.  Again, he refused.  By the time the boat came back once more, the house had been completely engulfed and the clergyman was standing on his chimney.  “Father,” his parishioners…

  • Homilies,  Sunday,  Year A

    26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

    On one of my very first visits to Sydney, I was taken by a friend who worked with homeless youth to some of the places in which such young people live and hang out.  I recall the time I was with them around a campfire near St. Vincent’s Hospital in Darlinghurst.  They had got the campfire going from some curbside formwork and were preparing to shelter against a winter Sydney night.  Most of them were on drugs of some kind, many of them prostituting – all of them with background stories of enormous tragedy. And yet, as I left them that night I could not but be struck by the…

  • Homilies,  Sunday,  Year A

    25th Sunday in Ordinary Time

    We often say religion and politics don’t mix. And it is true we must be careful to avoid the politicization of religious faith in such a way that religion becomes a vehicle to achieve political ends. However, at the same time, paradoxically we can never separate faith and politics as if we could behave one way in an internal world of spirituality, and another way in the external world of civic affairs. Politics is about choices, and the choices we make cannot but be informed by our discipleship of the Lord. To act otherwise is to develop a schizophrenia in our identity. Jesus calls us to live with an integrity…

  • Homilies,  Year A

    24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

    The award-winning film, Of Gods and Men, tells the true story of seven French Catholic monks living in war torn Algeria in the 1990s. It is the story of a community of men living peacefully in the Atlas Mountains. Inevitably the civil war and the bloodshed that had gripped the country for many years also surrounded them.  Eventually they were kidnapped and were held hostage by Algerian extremists.  They disappear and sometime later their heads are discovered. What made their deaths remarkable is not so much that they, like so many through the 1990s, got caught up in the political strife of Algeria but that they had made the conscious decision to stay…

  • Homilies,  Year A

    23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

    A key focus for the Gospel of Matthew is the relationships that constitute the Christian community.  There is a way of living together and a way of relating to one another that is reflective of the Kingdom of God as inaugurated by Jesus, and that is ultimately indicative of the life of God, and there is a way of living and of relating that is not as illustrative.  Fear, suspicion, resentment, bitterness draw people away from one another.  Listening, humility, openness and dialogue bring people together.  It is easy to identify which side of the ledger speaks of the life of God, and which does not. Writing in the 6th century, St. Benedict who drew…

  • Homilies,  Year A

    22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

    In the anxiety with which we are living at this time, our uncertainty can easily translate into despondency. We see video clips of large sporting events, gatherings of people socializing and enjoying life, rallies of one kind or another, and we wonder when we will ever experience these opportunities again. Our Year 12 students are being denied the many rituals that mark the end of their school years. We feel the constraint of not being able to be with our families and friends who are interstate or overseas, especially at times of sickness and death. We are acknowledging that our experience of the pandemic will not be over any time…

  • Homilies,  Year A

    21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

    Anxiety may well be observed as one of the defining characteristics of our age. Clearly, we are anxious about the situation of the pandemic in which we discover ourselves. So much that is uncertain stretches out before us.  And yet, what makes this worse, I think, is a deeper anxiety that we were carrying even before we had to confront the coronavirus. Whilst, on the one hand, perhaps as never before, we have the opportunity to celebrate individuality and diversity perhaps as never before have we been less sure about who we are. In the musical, The Gondaliers Gilbert and Sullivan once suggested ‑ rather prophetically I think of our own time ‑…

  • Homilies,  Year A

    20th Sunday in Ordinary Time

    During my monastic years, I was involved in the project of inter-religious dialogue.  Along with a Benedictine sister, a Buddhist monk, and a Hindu nun I pioneered what came to be known as Australian Monastic Encounter.  It was a privileged experience, through which I visited a number of different monastic centres around Australia and enjoyed the hospitality of various Buddhist monks exchanging with them pathways in the spiritual life. In the work of inter-religious dialogue, we often detect great similarities and parallels between the religious traditions.  Yet, we are also confronted with striking differences. Out of the desire to create a universal sense of fraternity, it has been a danger to try to…

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