Monday, 23 April 2018 15:02



5th sunday

Fifth Sunday of Easter

April 29, 2018

Suggested formula for recognition of indigenous people and their land.

We acknowledge the traditional owners and custodians of the land
on which we stand.
We pay our respects to them and for their care of the land.
May we walk gently and respectfully upon the land.
I acknowledge the living culture of the ……..people,
the traditional custodians of the land we stand on,
and pay tribute to the unique role they play in the life of this region.
We acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land where we are now gathered,
(the ……)  and recognise that it continues to be sacred to them.
We hail them: as guardians of the earth and of all things that grow and breed in the soil; as trustees of the waters – [the seas, the streams and rivers, the ponds and the lakes] - and the rich variety of life in those waters.
We thank them for passing this heritage to every people since the Dreamtime.
We acknowledge the wrongs done to them by newcomers to this land and we seek to be partners with them in righting these wrongs and in living together in peace and harmony.
I Am the Vine
I am one voice and I am singing
I am one voice and I am singing
I am one voice and I am singing
I am not alone
We are two voices we are singing
We are two voices we are singing
We are two voices we are singing
We are not alone
We are a hundred voices singing
We are a hundred voices singing
We are a hundred voices singing
We are not alone
We are a thousand voices singing
We are a thousand voices singing
We are a thousand voices singing
We are not alone
We are a million voices singing
We are a million voices singing
We are a million voices singing
We are not alone
I am one voice and I'll keep singing
I am one voice and I'll keep singing
I am one voice and I'll keep singing
I am not alone
Don Eaton

“It is essential to draw near to new forms of poverty and vulnerability, in which we are called to recognize the suffering Christ, even if this appears to bring us no tangible and immediate benefits. I think of the homeless, the addicted, refugees, indigenous peoples, the elderly who are increasingly isolated and abandoned, and many others. Migrants present a particular challenge for me, since I am the pastor of a Church without frontiers, a Church which considers herself mother to all. For this reason, I exhort all countries to a generous openness which, rather than fearing the loss of local identity, will prove capable of creating new forms of cultural synthesis.”

Pope Francis Evangelii Gaudium Para 210



Reading 1 Acts 9:26-31

Responsorial Psalm Ps 22:26-27, 28, 30, 31-32

R. I will praise you, Lord, in the assembly of your people.

Reading II 1 Jn 3:18-24

Gospel Jn 15:1-8

Penitential Rite

1.       Jesus, you are the vine and we are the branches; your life flows in us: Jesus, have mercy.

2.      Jesus, your love overflows in us and through us: Christ, have mercy.

3.       Jesus, your commitment to God and to the good of people overflows in us: Jesus, have mercy.

Opening Prayer

Living and loving God,

you have made yourself present to us in Jesus, your Son.

Through him we live the life you have given us,

by being generous and reaching out to others.

As Christ lives in us and we live in him,

may he bring people from all branches of humanity together

on the same vine so that the new wine of justice and love fills the earth.

Prayer of the Faithful

Introduction: Jesus’ rising from the dead provides the great alternative to the world of fear and death.  We stand in the presence of the God who protests against death and is passionate for the life of all, as we pray in response: Listen to your people, O God.

·         May the people who have experienced disaster and tragedy in recent times – Nepal, China, North India, Bangladesh, Vanuatu, Haiti and the Philippines – find in their connections with others a solidarity that makes healing and hope possible, as we pray in response: Listen to your people, O God.

·         May we struggle against all that is life denying: inequality, poverty, marginalisation and violence, we pray: Listen to your people, O God.

·         May the critical and liberating power of Easter allow us to realise that death does not only come at the end of life but is in our very midst: in the economic death of the person we allow to starve; the political death of the people who are oppressed; the social death of people with disabilities; the noisy death of bombs and torture; and the soundless death of the apathetic soul, we pray: Listen to your people, O God

·         May our resurrection faith be proved through our courageous self-giving in the struggle for justice and peace in our neighbourhoods and our world and protest against all forms of oppression, we pray: Listen to your people, O God.

·         May our Easter hope be strengthened as we witness the contribution of women in peacemaking and conflict resolution: may we all be heartened and strengthened by the encouragement they give though their care, nurturing, peacemaking and dissent, we pray: Listen to your people, O God.

·         May the work of the church and those who serve in its many ministries for the community and the world be recognised for their service and seen as participation in the work of the One who is passionate for life in our midst, we pray: Listen to your people, O God.

·         May people who are unemployed or underemployed, who work without just wages and whose work is unfulfilling or dangerous, we pray that they be concretely supported and their voices heard, we pray: Listen to your people, O God.

·         May people who are bullied at home, school, work place or church community for their gender, sexual orientation, racial or social background, or any other challenges, be respected as loved and created in the image of God, we pray: Listen to your people, O God.

Concluding Prayer:  May our Easter hope find expression in the lives of men and women who, filled with hope and trusting in God’s future, joyfully protest against death and resist all attempts that oppose the establishment of a new world of peace, compassion, sharing.

Prayer over the Gifts

Living and loving God,

you planted Jesus, your Son among people

as the true vine of faithful love.

May he be for us the bread of strength

and the wine of faithfulness,

so that we, living in him and he in us,

 may bear the fruits of love and peace in our lives.

Prayer after Communion

Living and loving God,

you are greater than our heart.

We have celebrated the presence among us

of the Jesus, the true vine.

May we strive to remain united with him

and with one another,

so that in the midst of life’s uncertainties

we may go on believing, hoping and loving.

Parish Notices
May 1 St Joseph the Worker
May 5 Blessed Edmund RiceEdmund-Rice
May 6 Introduction of mandatory detention of asylum seekers in Australia in 1992
Further Resources

The death of a single human being is too heavy a price for the vindication of any principle, however sacred.

Daniel Berrigan sj, peace activist, poet

These are the men who, without virtue, labour, or hazard, are growing rich, as their country is impoverished; they rejoice, when obstinacy or ambition adds another year to slaughter and devastation; and laugh, from their desks, at bravery and science, while they are adding figure to figure, and cipher to cipher, hoping for a new contract from a new armament, and computing the profits of a siege or tempest.

Samuel Johnson

As long as the world shall last there will be wrongs, and if no man objected and no man rebelled, those wrongs would last forever.

Clarence Darrow

Patience is not waiting passively until someone else does something. Patience asks us to live the moment to the fullest, to be completely present to the moment, to taste the here and now, to be where we are. When we are impatient, we try to get away from where we are. We behave as if the real thing will happen tomorrow, later, and somewhere else. Let’s be patient and trust that the treasure we look for is hidden in the ground on which we stand.
Henri J.M. Nouwen 
The terrible, cold, cruel part is Wall Street. Rivers of gold flow there from all over the earth, and death comes with it. There, as nowhere else, you feel a total absence of the spirit: herds of men who cannot count past three, herds more who cannot get past six, scorn for pure science and demoniacal respect for the present. And the terrible thing is that the crowd that fills the street believes that the world will always be the same and that it is their duty to keep that huge machine running, day and night, forever.
Federico Garcia Lorca- Spanish Poet and Playwright 
There is something perverse about more than enough. When we have more, it is never enough. It is always somewhere out there, just out of reach. The more we acquire, the more elusive enough becomes.
Any so-called material thing that you want is merely a symbol: you want it not for itself, but because it will content your spirit for the moment.
Mark Twain
Much of our activity these days is nothing more than a cheap anaesthetic to deaden the pain of an empty life.

We lift to you our Mother Earth. We lift to you our Mother Church. We lift to you, O God, your mother's heart; and although we cannot fully express our gratitude, help each one of us to be your blessing of love, a blessing straight from your heart. Amen.

Rev. Jane Sommers, Center for Worship Resourcing, The General Board of Discipleship

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. To be your own man [or woman] is hard business. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.
Rudyard Kipling, (1865-1936)
They could be made to accept the most flagrant violations of reality, because they never fully grasped the enormity of what was demanded of them, and were not sufficiently interested in public events to notice what was happening. George Orwell 
Political language… is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.   
George Orwell 
The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them. George Orwell 

We thought, because we had power, we had wisdom. 
Stephen Vincent Benét
A person will worship something, have no doubt about that. We may think our tribute is paid in secret in the dark recesses of our hearts, but it will out. That which dominates our imaginations and our thoughts will determine our lives, and our character. Therefore, it behooves us to be careful what we worship, for what we are worshipping we are becoming. 
Ralph Waldo Emerson 
War: first, one hopes to win; then one expects the enemy to lose; then, one is satisfied that he too is suffering; in the end, one is surprised that everyone has lost. 
Karl Kraus (1874–1936)
The state has, in order to control us, introduced division into our thinking, so that we come to distrust others and look to the state for protection! But the roots of our individualism remind us that what we are is inseparable from the source from which all others derive; that coercive practices that threaten our neighbour also threaten us.
Butler Shaffer 
Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; 
the indifference of those who should have known better; 
the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; 
that has made it possible for evil to triumph. 
Haile Selassie, last emperor of Ethiopia 
We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; 
the real tragedy of life is when men [and women] are afraid of the light.

Selections from Dag Hammarskjöld’s Markings:

The more faithfully you listen to the voice within you,

the better you hear what is sounding outside.

And only he who listens can speak.’

Never measure the height of a mountain until you have reached the top.

Then you will see how low it was.

Life yields only to the conqueror.

Never accept what can be gained by giving in.

You will be living off stolen goods,

and your muscles will atrophy.’

Life demands from you only the strength you posses.

One feat is possible -- not to have run away.

‘Goodness is something so simple: always to live for others,

never to seek one's own advantage’

Never look down to test the ground before taking your next step;

only he [she] who keeps his eye fixed on the far horizon will find his right road.

Dag Hammarskjold Markings born July 29, 1905; killed 1961, whilst Secretary General of the UN.

Each time [one] stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against an injustice, s/he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope and crossing each other from a million different centres of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.

Robert Kennedy

To be holy does not require being a bishop, a priest or a religious. We are frequently tempted to think that holiness is only for those who can withdraw from ordinary affairs to spend much time in prayer. That is not the case. We are all called to be holy by living our lives with love and by bearing witness in everything we do, wherever we find ourselves. Are you called to the consecrated life? Be holy by living out your commitment with joy. Are you married? Be holy by loving and caring for your husband or wife, as Christ does for the Church. Do you work for a living? Be holy by labouring with integrity and skill in the service of your brothers and sisters. Are you a parent or grandparent? Be holy by patiently teaching the little ones how to follow Jesus. Are you in a position of authority? Be holy by working for the common good and renouncing personal gain.[Pope Francis, Apostolic Exhortation, Gaudete et exsultate on the call to holiness in today’s world #14.

‘To truly heal this planet, we need the power of community, which is much more than simply a political coalition. Whenever people come together around a shared goal and practice solidarity, they connect with a power greater than the sum of their individual efforts. Thus, they’re unified and driven by meaning, trust and possibility, able to overcome any obstacle.’

Martin Winiecki , Tamera Peace Research and Education Center in Portugal

Reflections on the Readings

‘When you remove the risk, you remove the challenge. When you remove the challenge, you wither on the vine.’

Alex Lowe

This Sunday’s readings are a stark reminder of what being ‘in relationship’ means, and what is meant by being fully connected to the life-giving energy at the core of our lives. We see in the Acts the effects that a personal encounter with Christ had on Saul’s life. Known as a murderer, he becomes Jesus’ disciple much to the consternation of the other disciples. They knew he his background and continue to fear him until Barnabas shares Saul’s conversion story. It is only then that the accept Saul. He is now ‘in relationship’ with Christ, with God, Barnabas and the disciples – relationships struck through personal encounters and direct storytelling.

We are still in Easter and we reflect upon the truth: Jesus lives, and lives amongst us, and calls us to do life differently. The women’s witness strengthens that conviction that Jesus is alive as the encounters with the other disciples: the disciples walking to Emmaus, and Jesus breaking bread with them; the disciples on the seashore; the appearance to Thomas. And of course, Paul’s experience is one of encountering Jesus alive and present to him.

Paul’s message is powerful. The church must open up. Jesus lives not only in these Jewish disciples, but in the world. This caused tremendous difficulty as many refused to accept that Jesus would also be alive and present to non-Jews. But change came and the church evolved – becoming a different kind of church. Because Jesus is still alive, he is still present here now in our world, in our midst, in our community of disciples, he's still here to guide us and possibly trying to show us new ways to be the community of disciples. He is clearly present and active in all people as Pope Francis has beautifully reminded us in his Apostolic Exhortation Gaudete et exsultate. Many women are called to priesthood. Many people are called to be married priests. And, even those religious women who have borne much service of the church in the world are distrusted and ultimately betrayed. Has Jesus not been present in and through the witness of married couples and single people in their witness in the world? Has Jesus not been present and active in so many non-ordained religious in poor communities and priestless parishes. All have lived out the words of Jesus in John’s Gospel: 'My one commandment is that you love one another, not just in word, but in action, in deed, in truth.' This is the love that went beyond the community to the world, especially to the women, men and children living in various kinds of poverty and oppression: 'When I was hungry, you gave me to eat. When I was thirsty, you gave me to drink. When I was naked, you clothed me. When I was homeless, you sheltered me.' Jesus lives in all these people and the living Jesus asks us to carry his love to all our brothers and sisters, wherever they are, and however they need the loving presence of Jesus. This is the fruit that all called to bring forth in our lives.

Dorothy Sayers, in The Greatest Drama Ever Staged wrote in exasperation: ‘We have very efficiently pared the claws of the Lion of Judah, certified him ‘meek and mild,’ and recommended him as a fitting household pet for pale curates and pious old ladies.’ Many Christians’ have a penchant for a ‘Jesus,’ who is something of a wimp. ‘The ‘Beatitudes’ as commonly understood are preferred over Jesus’ cleansing of the temple. Jesus’ coming to children is preferred to his words, ‘I come not to bring peace, but a sword.’ These are consistent with the trends to inactivity, apathy [and obesity]. It can be more comfortable to sit than to be active. But all the words of Jesus are in fact directed towards activity and engagement. Jesus’ words ‘Remain in me’ might be comforting, and reassuring, but something more is expected of us. The vision of unity carries a responsibility to continually make this a reality.

Statements still abound by Christian people against Muslim people; support military involvement overseas against people who have done us no harm or even threatened us; past wars are still glorified without much reflection on why go to war in the first or the impact it has on people both ‘our’ soldiers and those they fought against and their families; people in our community such as the aged, people living with mental illness, Indigenous people, people in prison continue to be neglected and blamed for their situations.

‘Remain in me’ causes us to ask: how big is our ‘we’? According the gospel we are interconnected and interdependent. It requires mutuality and reciprocity. The church has always faced this challenging question and responsibility. As a nation we face this daily with the treatment of people who come to Australia by boat seeking asylum and refuge. How big is our ‘we’ as a nation and as a ‘church’? What approach will we take as individuals and communities? Do we respond by building more barriers (border protection) or changing words in our liturgy to make God seem more remote and make us look more ‘Catholic’? It seems sometimes that more and more people find the church community as not being helpful in remaining close to Christ. The reason for this may be the person himself or herself or the messages that the pastor/priest/minister and the people communicate.

John's gospel imagery is not new. The Old Testament used this image several times (Jeremiah 2:21; Ezekiel 15:6; Hosea 10:1) but the vine was the community. In the gospel today Jesus is the vine. God’s close relationship with Israel was not meant to be cosy or comfortable. Our relationship to God in Jesus implies the ‘other’ - our sisters and brothers. I wonder however, that the pruning must always be attributed to ourselves rather than the ‘other’.

We are quite happy to recommend the ‘pruning’ of others to make them acceptable to us: women, Muslim people, the stranger, and the gay and lesbian person. Our relationship certainly requires ‘pruning’ in ourselves of prejudices, grudges, unwillingness to forgive, failures to welcome diversity and difference in people and cultures, intolerance and arguments over dogma, looking at (not necessarily abandoning) our belief systems, our image of God, our political beliefs, behaviour that might be paternalistic, controlling or dominating are questioned or challenged. The church needs to continually relearn that nothing - not race or gender, not any human prejudice - should hinder the ‘one vine’ from forking and branching and growing until all the people of God are included. Paul’s life was at risk for wanting to break down barriers in the Jerusalem community. He did not want people jumping through difficult hoops in order to follow Jesus. And we have to keep on doing that in order to be faithful to Jesus. It continues the theme of last Sunday as Jesus the Good Shepherd where God has no borders. Being inclusive means more than bringing many diverse people together; it is about how we experience and engage each other. Our love and commitment betray who we are connected to. Loving those outside our circles of approval, acceptance, or understanding is difficult – can be life-threatening or life-enhancing.

War, violence and exclusiveness mock the Risen One who calls us to do life differently, the One who was passionate about life, peace and justice. The treatment of the religious women for their present ministry which some find threatened or past abuses where they were used as cheap labour mocks the one in whose name they have served for decades. Mother’s Day happens in two weeks. However, we continue to mock that day, which began as a Mother’s Day for Peace when women originally gave themselves to oppose war and its underlying patriarchy, becoming another day for commercialisation. This day has become like a monument rather than a challenge. These women remembered not only their sons and husbands who might die in war but also the sons and husbands of women around the world. They made the connection between the vine and the branches.

‘Remain in me’. That ‘me’ is big, it is reveals God’s big-heartedness. Today the stranger and marginalised asks: What will prevent ‘me’ being included? What does this Scripture passage mean as we continue to cover up the war crimes against the Iraqi and Afghan people? the crimes against the people of Syria and Yemen? the justification of torture and use of drones that target people from great distances? when people who seek our protection are detained indefinitely? when we detain unaccompanied children? when human trafficking or child labour is ignored? John asks us if our faith has a heart, hands and feet: ‘Little children, let us not love in word or speech but in deed and in truth…’ [I Jn 3:18]. Is our love unafraid to get its hands dirty? We are continually led back into the heart of God, a heart full of self-giving. What might we become in the world if we took our place at Jesus’ table and loved one another the very same way he showed his love? When Jesus: says remain in me he is saying that our connection to him makes us mindful of our connection to the world – people that cry out to us and an Earth that is groaning under so much abuse. That includes the people escaping violence and poverty crossing the Arizona desert and the Mediterranean; the first peoples of this land who are being told they have to leave their homelands and thus deny their culture and language; the people who have sought our protection but find their trauma deepened by harsh immigration policies; the millions of children, women and men who are trafficked in our world; the thousands of people who die in Palestine, Syria, in Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan and Sudan; the millions who go to bed hungry every night; the earth that is polluted by greed and selfishness; the children who are hurt by words, neglect and bullying; and the animal world that suffers at human hands. How big is our ‘we’?

We are an interconnected human community, part of a global family, responsible for one another. Our actions or lack of action has consequences. As branches grafted on Jesus we are called to reflect his heart and his work. To be true to him, we cannot separate our lives into little compartments where one part has nothing to do with the other.

Let us hear the call to adventurous growth and creativity. The gospel image reminds us that we are fruitful agents and companions of a fruitful and lively God. And faithfulness to God invites us to push beyond our comfort zones, claim our agency, and contribute to the fruitfulness of God’s mission. Living God’s mission emerges from our commitments to love boldly and adventurously as we embody the Love that abides in us.

5th sunday