“Our enemies may be our greatest healers, but only if we are open to them. Our enemies are people who challenge us. They are people with whom we do not agree, who block us, who contradict us, who stifle us, people who are not for us. Their presence seems to bring out in us envy & jealousy, & either aggression or a sort of regression. We see them as everything we are not ourselves & their presence reminds us that we are not that. Or they ask too much of us & we cannot respond to their demands, so we push them away. We believe that our enemies endanger us, we dislike them, we might even wish that they didn’t exist. Because they frighten us, we are unable to hear what they are asking of us. We allow them, in one way or another, to dominate us, to stifle us. We often run away & we may wish they would run away too. We have our personal enemies, & then those we see as enemies of society in general, despised people like moneylenders & drug barons who exploit the misery of the weakest & make money from their despair. In Jesus’ time the equivalent would have been the tax collectors, who collected taxes on behalf of the Roman forces of occupation & did so in unscrupulous ways & lined their own pockets at the expense of the poor. We despise such people, condemn them, reject them, & yet it is precisely this sort of person Jesus called out to, because he saw into the heart of the tax collector & he saw goodness there. “I say to you; love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who treat you badly. To the one who slaps you on one cheek, present the other cheek too.” [Lk 6.27 ] This is the ultimate, at times seemingly impossible, challenge of the New Testament & the Christian way of life. The point is that the faults we see in our enemies are often the ones we refuse to face in ourselves. The very people we despise are people who in some way remind us of those parts of ourselves that still need to be healed. There is no evil in this world that we are not capable of committing. If we look into our heart we will find what we are afraid of, if we make a list of the people we don’t like or things we don’t like to see happening, the kinds of actions that we despise & that we condemn, we will discover that these are parts of ourselves that are not yet healed, that we disown, that we are ashamed of. Seeing these places in ourselves, we fear that maybe some day the evil in ourselves might come to light, so we project it onto other people & that makes us feel better, & we are self-righteous in denouncing them.” ..to continue next week.. [Now is the Time; Sr Stanislaus Kennedy]
Last weekend we had 38 at Sunday 10am Mass at OL&SB & 13 at 4pm at OL&HA. Sunday 10am was again full & I expect more will want to come as more of you have had the second inoculation & feel safe to return to a weekend Mass. Do remember please that the Bishops Conference have put aside the Sunday obligation until the end of lockdown, & that any attendance at a weekday Mass fulfils any sense of obligation you may still hold.
Pope Francis’ initiative in May to pray the Rosary each day of the month in the hope of an ending to the pandemic. I sent out with the Outreach two weeks ago the list showing which World Shrine to Our Lady is leading the prayer that particular day with a pandemic related intention. This Sunday it centres on St Mary’s Cathedral Australia praying for all victims of violence & human trafficking. Please do join in each day if you can..
Our Diocesan Vicarate for Spirituality & Worship, in preparation for the Feast of Pentecost next Sunday 23 May 2021, have compiled a Novena to the Holy Spirit, taking some short daily reflections from Pope Francis’ book “Let us Dream”; one example is “for me it’s clear, we must redesign the economy so that it can offer every person access to a dignified existence while protecting & regenerating the natural world.” [ page 44 ] I enclose a copy of the Novena & would encourage you to pray each of the 9 days which begin this Friday 14 May 2021. Interestingly, the prayer chosen, attributed to St Augustine, is the one Abbot Robert prays each week when he gives our Community a spiritual reflection., beautiful words & a profound reality.
Helen O’Shea, National President of SVP has written to our Parish SVP Conference informing us of a Novena of Prayer for the situation in India, where we give spiritual & financial support to two Parishes St Joseph’s, Mangalapusa in the Kerala District SW India, & St John Bosco, Ganjam in the Orissa District, NE India. The Novena coincides with that offered to us by the Diocese, so you may want to merge this intention alongside those you will bring to the Novena of your particular personal or wider needs. Details from firstname.lastname@example.org
Anthony Glaister of our Parish J&P Group who has special affiliation, love for, & experience of the Middle East conflict, has offered us a fine Quaker invocation, shared with all faiths in a plea for peace & reconciliation on both sides. [“whatever you ask for in prayer will be granted you”] if only we would believe it..
“As Quakers we place equal value on every human life, & believe the structural violence of occupation damages all people in the region. We have said before that the conflict between the Palestinians & Israelis will only be resolved when Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory is ended, & the inherent equality, dignity & worth of all is realised. We still believe this to be so. We urge our faith & political leaders to speak out with us. For as long as we remain silent, & to choose to step back from uncomfortable words & actions, we are all complicit in the ongoing violence.”
For the Quaker community to voice this with such typical gentleness & conviction, yet unusual & remarkable outspokenness is an indication of how seriously we too must face this crisis. With my love & prayers Fr Bede.