Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time

One of the things the Lord reminds us of in today’s readings is that Christianity is real. Unlike many religions or philosophies, Christianity is deeply anchored in history: in time and space. Whereas some belief systems are about getting reality around me to fit into my idea, Christianity is first of all a reality, a real part of our time and space, which then affects our heart, and the way we see the world, and, ultimately, reality.
Today’s readings are littered with references to the action of God in time and space.  It’s true that our first reading doesn’t seem that grounded: one might be tempted to wonder  to what extent the billowing clouds of Isaiah’s visions are more from something he is  smoking rather than pure inspiration. Yet Isaiah’s vision is grounded enough to be able to be located in a concrete place in history: In the year of King Uzziah’s death.
St Paul does exactly the same thing in the second reading: some people in Corinth are a bit worried that Paul’s been taking this whole Jesus-Resurrection thing too literally: surely
Jesus was just a good man who built community, whose apostles either told lies about him or got conned by him. St Paul is unshakeably clear: Jesus did not just appear privately to an evangelist and dictate the gospel to him. Rather the risen Jesus appeared first to Cephas and secondly to the Twelve. Next he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died; then he appeared to James, and then to all the apostles; and last of all he appeared to me too. In other words: the Risen Jesus is public history: and, since he is risen, is public present and future too.
And of course there is today’s Gospel. Christianity is so real that the almighty Son of God makes an appearance in the last place anyone would expect: on the smelly fishing trawler of a middle class businessman. And this is when the most real thing of all happens: Jesus asks him to do something he doesn’t want to do. Peter doesn’t want to do it not because its immoral, or too far fetched, or even pointless. The thing that Jesus asks Peter to do is something hard - ­something in fact Peter knows he should do but will find hard.
For this is what we mean when we say Christianity is real. It affects my daily life.  Christ’s Body the Church does not ask me things above and beyond of what I think I should do, but rather hard things that, deep down, I know really I should be doing. Taking that little bit of extra patience with my persistent child ­- or parent or spouse or mother-in-law.  Going to Sunday mass even if its my only day off and the priest is too boring - or provocative.  Receiving my spouse’s fertility as a gift. All these things where Christianity is not so much about big gestures which make me feel good, but principally small, tiny gestures of love towards those God has put in my life: because he is doing them all the time for me.
Its also why Christianity affects our politics. Because Christianity is real, and true, and part of the fabric of the universe, its not surprising that politicians and policies with Christianity behind them can often be far more rational, scientific, human and compassionate than some of the truly irrational, unscientific and heartless fads that sometimes come from self-­proclaimed purely rational people. This is not surprising: it is irrational to be purely rational ­- because human beings are more than a bit of logic. Each of us is an absolutely unique complex and mistake-­prone combination of head, heart, memory, emotion, body and senses. And it is people, and not body parts, that we elect to represent us. Political parties know that and so don’t post up pictures of someone’s arm or willpower. This is why a good Christian politician doesn’t shut away his Christianity every time a moral issue comes up: rather, like anybody else, he assesses the situation using the light his Christianity sheds on the problem. This upcoming election year is a chance for us to take stock of who in parliament acts in integrity of their beliefs ­ and those who don’t: and to vote accordingly.

The Editor

Saturday, September 19, 2015

10 October @8pm Love and Truth in Sydney

Married?  Engaged?  Going out?  Love and Truth are different evenings organised to bring together couples to learn, share and grow through the challenges and joys of relationship and married life - over select cheeses and complimentary fine wines!

The next Love and Truth evening in Sydney will be on 10 October 2015 starting from 8pm.  For more details, or to rsvp, please contact the co-ordinators at loveandtruthsydney@gmail.com or download the flyer here.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

7 July @8pm Love and Truth in Sydney

Married?  Engaged?  Going out?  Love and Truth are different evenings organised to bring together couples to learn, share and grow through the challenges and joys of relationship and married life - over select cheeses and complimentary fine wines!

The next Love and Truth evening in Sydney will be on 7 July 2015 starting from 8pm.  For more details, or to rsvp, please contact the co-ordinators at loveandtruthsydney@gmail.com or download the flyer here.

Monday, April 13, 2015

What is Divine Mercy?

This Sunday, all over world, we are beginning the feast of Divine Mercy. But this year, we are doing it with something we have never done before. Today Pope Francis has officially announced the details of a Year of Mercy which will begin on 8 December which is not only the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary, but also the fiftieth anniversary of the closing of Vatican II. During this year, all the Sunday readings will be taken from the Gospel of Luke, who is the “evangelist of mercy”, because so many of his parables are about mercy - like the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the prodigal son.

What is Divine Mercy? Divine Mercy is a fruit of God’s love. We heard something today about God’s love in today’s psalm: the psalmist writes it three times to make sure we don’t miss out this critically important message: ​Let the sons of Israel say:/‘His love has no end.’/Let the sons of Aaron say:/‘His love has no end.’/Let those who fear the Lord say:/‘His love has no end.’​God’s love doesn’t end. It also means that God’s love has no limits: it has no end, and it has no beginning either. Long before we woke up this morning, long before we even existed - for all eternity - God has been, and is, and will be preoccupied with us and loving us. There is a real security in this: in fact this is the only real security because while my job and family and spouse and health can change or disappear, God’s love never will. Ever.

What about God’s mercy then? God’s mercy is the aspect of God’s love where we recognise, in the light of the overwhelming warmth of such love, that we don’t deserve it. Be we Christian or non-Christian, none of us has the right to God’s love, or the right to be forgiven, or the right to eternal life. We are all sinners, and God would be perfectly in his rights to leave us in the squalor of the sins and evil and selfishness we have, many times, preferred to him.
But he didn’t do that to us, as he doesn’t do that to Thomas in today’s Gospel. What does Thomas say when he hears that Jesus didn’t abandon them but actually came back from the dead? “Unless I see the holes...I refuse to believe.” Thomas himself is wounded: bitter that God allowed his best friend to be unjustly condemned, angry too at himself for gutlessly abandoning his best friend at the first danger. His anger closed his heart and he refused to believe. What does Jesus say? “OK, I’ll leave you alone now.” No: rather, he meets Thomas where he is at. “Look,” he says: “here are ​my​wounds. I am wounded too. In fact, you did this to me. But don’t be afraid, because you can’t stop me loving you, and my Father permitted this so I can heal you with my wounds. Will you touch my wounds so I may heal yours?”

That is what Jesus says to us when we go to the sacrament of reconciliation. In that sacrament, Jesus asks “Where do you want to be healed? What evils have you done to yourself, and to others, and to our relationship? Show me where” That’s why we tell the priest our sins: not because ​he​is anything special, but rather for ​us​to recognise, and also ​to tell Jesus ​where exactly we need to be healed. It is no accident that it is only when the Risen Jesus shows his wounds that he orders his apostles to heal on his behalf and gives them that power: “‘Receive the Holy Spirit./For those whose sins you forgive,/they are forgiven;” This is why we make regular confession part of our Christian life: not because the priest is lonely and wants someone to talk to. But because mysteriously in the priest, Jesus is waiting there to heal and take away every evil and wound in our heart and fill it with a love and peace that no one else can ever give. As we receive the Risen Jesus in communion today, let us ask him for the grace to see his love for us, to see his wounds, and be healed by them. 

The Editor

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A magnificent retreat of the priests of the Emmanuel Community

The second great international retreat of the priests of the Emmanuel Community was held from from the 9th to the 14th of February at the Foyer of Chairty of Chateauneuf-de-Galaure in France.

180 of the 250 priests of the community were present.  Bishops Yves le Saux and Dominique Rey were the preachers of the this retreat.  Beginning with the foundational graces of the Emmanuel Commuity and particularly from the humble figure of Pierre Goursat, they preached this retreat on the theme of pastoral charity and the priest of the Emmanuel Community today.

The week was an opportunity for priests coming from every continent to deepen the meaning of the fatherhood of a priest, and also what it means to be a brother as well as a son.

It was seen that to be a father is to give life in order to give one's life, to be close to others, to be a patient and benevolent witness, and also to have the courage of being faithful to the truth while at the same time giving the mercy of God to humanity.  To be a brother and a son, this is to accept  to depend, in a simple way, on others, whatever their state of life in the Church.

The Moderator of the Community and the Co-ordinator for priests concluded this beautiful retreat by encouraging the priests of Emmanuel to live community life in a free gift of self, in a communion of the states of life, there wherever they are.  They reminded them of the importance of welcoming the human fragilities and poverties of every person in order to exercise a real paternity which strengthens, encourages and raises up.

Some Fioretti:

"What is urgent is not so much to defend Catholic identity but to be missionary."
"The difficulty of fraternal life...is the brother!"
"To make a good decision requires a good night and a good mass."
"That which you want to light in the others must first be burning in you."
"Paternity is to move from giving life to giving one's life" (said by the father of a family)
"When we don't know where we're going we shouldn't be surprised if we arrive somewhere else!"
"Our little decisions work if they become supplications."
"When I hear my parish priest speak of the Gospel, this makes me afraid; when I see him live it, I am reassured."

Friday, January 23, 2015

New commitments in celibacy for the Kingdom of God

Commitments in Altotting.
As every year in the Emmanuel Community, a number of consecrated sisters of different nationalities have recently made a first or definitive commitment in celibacy for the Kingdom of God.*  They include:

 - Marie-Dominique Minne, French, first commitment, in Lisieux, on the 3rd January.
 - Marie-Rose Zerbo, of Burkina Faso, first commitment, in Lisieux, on the 3rd January.
 - Mili Banko, Slovenian, definitive commitment, in the Netherlands, on the 4th January.
 - Daniella Török, from Hungary, in Altötting, Germany.
 - Anna Galikova, from Slovakia, in Altötting, Germany.
 - Silvia Ponte, Portugese, in Fatima on the 28th December.
 - Claire de L’éprevier, French, in Lisieux on the 3rd January.
 - Sophie-Marie Drouineau, French, in Lisieux on the 3rd January.

On the 1st March, Immaculée Kantengwa and Odette Niyibizi (below left to right) will make their first commitment in Kigali (Rwanda).

Let us pray for them!

(*) Celibacy for the Kingdom of God in the Emmanuel Community is a form of missionary life according to the charism of the Community.  In renouncing starting a family, members of the community commited in celibacy live a more complete personal disposition for adoration, compassion and evangelisation.  Today there are about 200 men and women who live this call around the world.  Click here to see the video clip the Emmanuel Community has prepared on the occasion of the opening of the Year of Consecrated Life (+16 000 views), and here to know about more consecrated life in the Emmanuel Community. 

Commitments in Lisieux.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Evening for couples coming up in Melbourne and Sydney

Love and Truth has organised an evening for married or engaged couples in Melbourne on 30 August and in Sydney on 13 September.

In Melbourne in Burwood the Emmanuel Community welcomes married and engaged couples for a relaxing and enjoyable wine and cheese evening.  The topic of the evening is "Holy Husbands and Wives in History...Inspiring us today."  Further details, including about how to RSVP, can be found on the flyer when you click here.

In Sydney the evening will be held in Croydon Park on Saturday 13 September.  The evening will include a very nourishing variety of wine and cheese, as well as discussion about "Embracing your Spouses’ Family".  Further details, including about how to RSVP, can be found on the flyer when you click here.