• Homilies,  Year A

    19th Sunday in Ordinary Time

    Last Sunday, I shared how the times may leave us feeling like getting into our own little boat and heading off into the middle of the lake where no one can disturb us, and where we may be free from the concern that swirls around us as we continue to navigate the threat of the pandemic. However, once we are out in the lake, we are not guaranteed serenity. I remember once picking up a small poster which read, “Dear God, help me; the sea is so wide, and my boat is so small.”  The size of the lake itself can be overwhelming, and then storms whip up so that the…

  • Homilies,  Year A

    18th Sunday of Ordinary Time

    This time last year, the word ‘unprecedented’ seemed to be on everyone’s lips. It was the word most commonly heard on the media. At that time, it referred primarily to the drought we, in Australia, were experiencing. It then transferred to the bushfires and smoke to which we were subjected from October to February. None of us could have predicted that, within a few months, we would be in our current situation battling our way through a pandemic. Curiously, we rarely hear the word, ‘unprecedented’ now. It is as if the circumstances of the moment are too historic in character for the word, ‘unprecedented’ to do justice. The word, ‘unprecedented’…

  • Homilies,  Year A

    17th Sunday of Ordinary Time

    Once upon a time there was an old man who lived on the outskirts of a town.[1]  He had lived there so long that no one knew who he was or where he had come from.  Some said that once he had been very powerful, a king, but that was long ago.  Others said no, he was once very wealthy and generous, but without much now.  Others said, no, he was wise and influential, and some even said he was holy.  But the children just thought he was a stupid old man and they made his life miserable.  They threw stones at his windows, left dead cats on his doorstep, ripped up the garden, and shouted…

  • Year A

    16th Sunday of Ordinary Time

    We don’t need to be following the news for very long without coming to the recognition that evil exists.  However, of course, evil not only exists in the situations of notoriety that occur in the world.  We also know that evil exists in ourselves, even if in more subtle ways:  when we do not treat others as their dignity deserves; when we use others for our own purposes; when we forget the accountability that is placed on each of us to live with integrity and truthfulness. Perhaps when we focus on our own failings, we can tend to underestimate the presence and activity of evil. Evil, though, is a genuine force that we…

  • Year A

    15th Sunday of Ordinary Time

    The Australian social researcher, Hugh Mackay once gave a reflection on how difficult it is to get other people to hear what we are trying to say.[1]  As he observed, how many times have we said in frustration, “If I’ve told them once, I’ve told them a hundred times.  It just seems to go in one ear and out the other!”  As Mackay says, what we may be really saying, of course, is, “Guess what, I know a message that never works.  It doesn’t seem to matter how often I say it; it never has any effect on the people I’m talking to.  But I don’t give up easily.  It’s such a good message that I’m…

  • Year A

    14th Sunday of Ordinary Time

    On this first week in July the Church in Australia celebrates National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sunday. This annual celebration is an opportunity to acknowledge the contribution that Indigenous Australians make to our experience of the Transcendent and to faith in this ancient land. As Deacon Boniface Perdjert from Wadeye, in the Northern Territory, and who passed away last year, commented once “Deep down, we Aborigines are religious people. We did not have many material goods, but we are rich with spiritual goods. It is this strong religious side that made us.  It gave us our identity, our dignity, our self-assurance.  My People existed here in Australia thousands of years before Abraham.  In all…

  • Year A

    13th Sunday of Ordinary Time

    Even the COVID19 pandemic does not seem to have eased negative publicity about the Church. It was curious to see articles recently in the media questioning the Church’s engagement of the Government’s JobKeeper scheme. As a religious practitioner, I am eligible for the Jobkeeper payment. I have also chosen to donate this to our First Collection to supplement the loss of income by the parish suffered because of the pandemic. Though this is entirely legal, ethical and transparent, the media’s attempt to make it into something otherwise shows how the Church struggles both to retain and to promote its credibility in society.  In the face of such negative social scrutiny,…

  • Year A

    12th Sunday of Ordinary Time

    Some years ago, I had a friend working as a legal assistant in the refugee camps that sprang up in Hong Kong in the 1980s and 1990s. Every morning he travelled over by ferry to the islands on which the camps were situated to spend the day explaining international law to the refugees and trying to work out how their story might relate to their cause. Along the way, he wrote to me this moving story: “At Chim A Wan detention centre, Pham van Ai and I interviewed a woman who had been forced into prostitution in Vietnam. In fact, she did this in order to repay a loan she…

  • Year A

    Corpus Christi 2020

    The Irish used to have a saying, “It is the Mass that matters.”  For them, recovering particularly from the Great Potato Famine in the 19th century, the Eucharist was the great source of identity in an environment that was incredibly oppressive. The celebration of the Mass was the rock of their existence in a sea of social hostility which threatened to engulf them.  We recall even the famous Mass rocks ‑ those rocks on which Masses were celebrated set out in the countryside away from the detection of the English invaders. The saying, “It is the Mass that matters” followed the Irish Diaspora to our own shores where the Eucharist has continued to…

  • Year A

    Trinity Sunday 2020

    The architect of the Parliament building in Canberra, Romaldo Giurgola was, apparently, fond of saying “great buildings begin with great ideas.”  In other words, if you can’t imagine the possibilities first, the end result will not be all that significant.  “Great buildings begin with great ideas.”  It’s an observation that underscores the power and the importance of the imagination in our life. “You must give birth to your images,” wrote Rilke. “They are the future waiting to be born.  Fear not the strangeness you feel.  The future must enter into you long before it happens.”[1]  The future begins in our imagination, in the images that we carry deep within us.   We are often used to downplaying our imagination.…

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