Dear One and All,
Now do sit back and relax; I really hope that you do enjoy this realhomilie, because as I am sitting here tapping away on the keyboard, I picture all of you right here with me. Every now and then Tara our dog comes in to my room to see what I am up to, and of course, my Mum, (Nancy, 91 years young) pops in and out to see if I am still in the land of the living!
As you have seen from the pics that I have posted, I am very keen on animals; Tara our Sheltie Collie, is one of the family, and Sweetie, my Galah, is also very keen to share a thought or two with everyone. When you go out from our family room to the Pergola, and if you don’t speak to Sweetie first, he will say in dulcet tones…” Hello, gorgeous!” How he picks up these words, I just don’t understand 🙂 so it is a very normal place here as I write from The Hermitage! Here is a pic of my Mum and Tara, all ready to take me shopping…….Please note, that I do not aim to write the realhomilie in the purest of English prose and grammar…..it is a Homily; it is as though I am speaking with you….
Way back in the 1990’s I was sent by my Provincial to the Passionist Parish of St.Joseph’s in Highgate, North London; actually not too far from where there have been lots of riots, looting and the burning of shops and vehicles, as we have seen vividly on the TV News lately. When I arrived at Heathrow Airport, and finally made my way to the Passport/Visa clearance areas, I proceeded to the checkout marked British Subjects! To my alarm, I was told by the person on duty, after he glanced at my Passport, that I was on the wrong line, and had to proceed to the Foreigners Queue! I said to him, in no uncertain terms“I beg your pardon!” As with the British wit, and a smile on his dial, he said, “Sorry, mate, I can’t help it if you come from Australia, even though we sent you there……” With smiles on our faces, and tail between my legs, I ate humble pie, and went to the proper queue! I suppose that we can be all somewhat selective from time to time!
The readings today have always held a very strong message; but today more than ever the message retains its richness, depth and invitation to us. In the first Reading from the Prophet Isaiah, the Author together with the community who heard this message, and put it into practice, was faced with a question that is timeless! Namely, who can come into God’s Kingdom? Over the centuries our ancestors in faith, and the early Church had to grapple with this question, just as we do today.
On a local issue, we see the question of Asylum seekers who travel by risky means of marine transport across the seas in search of a new homeland. Then there is the ‘human’ responsibility which we owe to these people when they reach our territorial waters. Question? Who can come into our country, especially if they are fair dinkum Asylum seekers? We are talking here about moral responsibility……
In the first Reading, we see the answer to the burning question about foreigners seeking admittance to the Lord
God’s Family, and hence enjoy the benefits of the Covenant initiated by the Lord God, and to be loving of all that God has requested from his Bride…Israel as a response. We also see the disposition required for those who welcome them…..’Have a care for Justice, act with integrity…’ So here we see a two way street of living and
celebrating; culminating on the Sabbath.
The Sabbath, is that day to be kept Holy, it is the Lord’s Day! Let’s dig deep into what in essence is requested by the Lord God on the Sabbath. If we go back to the Creation Epic in the Book of Genesis, we see that on the final day of creation, God rested…. Was he tired after all the creating? Absolutely no! When we delve into the
Hebrew meaning of the Lord God ‘resting’ it seems that its real meaning is ‘gazing’. To gaze is not the same as looking, it is not the same as staring, it is the process of ‘being truly present’ to all that has happened, is happening and will happen.
Gazing is somewhat like a higher state in mental prayer….it is being in ‘nothingness’ or as the Spiritual writers would say..Being in the NADA! The activity of ‘gazing’ is not only for Monastic people; it does come naturally to all of us . Let’s explore this precious and necessary activity. For starters, we must give time to waste, may I say, to be truly involved in this activity. For example, when we are driving down to the Snowy Mountains, it is a thrilling experience heading up the Mountains from Jindabyne in search of the Snow. As we drive along we might see some snow along the verges of the road, and then suddenly, as we turn a corner, and there in front of us….is a huge vista of snow capped mountains and valleys….so do we just keep driving, and say …’that’s nice, whose got the potato chips?’ We generally would stop and take it all in…….that’s precisely what gazing is……taking it all in! So, when it comes to Sabbath gazing, it means taking all that God has done, and is doing, and will continue to do into our very bones. It also means the reawakening of the Missionary legacy entrusted to us…namely, to bring Heaven to earth, as we pray frequently in the Our Father. It means a kind of stillness which is filled with God’s Words…God’s echoes, within a community which is called ‘family’/Church.
If we say that we are too busy to do this exercise regularly, the simple answer is that we are TOO busy. As human beings we need to process what is happening….otherwise, we really begin to lose it! Towards the end of the first reading we see, the Lord God saying that ‘my house will be called a house of prayer’….See how prayer can be a listening, and a responding to God?
Let’s move onto the Gospel; notice that Jesus and his companions move deliberately into an area of foreigners. This woman from Canaan, knows who Jesus is…she sees in him the saving hand of God…Faith has allot to do with seeing, hence the seeing and believing become the one activity. Faith here equals insight! This is not lost on Jesus, nor is it lost on the early Christian community who had to grapple with the Missionary task of proclaiming the Gospel to the ends of the earth…meaning to the foreigners! This woman uses part of a very well known Psalm of David, the first line of Psalm 50/51…’Take pity on me’…notice that Our Lord’s disciples become intercessors of her prayer when they plead with Him, ‘ Give her what she wants’! It could well be said that the prayerful assistance of the Disciples, gave her that extra bit of courage to ‘come up and kneel’ at Our Lord’s feet. As we deep sea dive here, it can be seen that this woman was in the very process of experiencing salvation…that is, the understanding that in Jesus she was being ‘raised’ to a new life which culminated in her prayer…’Lord, help me’.
Remember last week while Peter was experiencing the headwind on the lake, and he began to sink in the miry waters – that symbolic place where evil, and doubt reside; he said, ‘Lord, save me!’ What did Jesus do to Peter? He lifted him up…he raised him up by one hand! The impossible becomes possible for us because of our God’s invitation/intervention.
In today’s Gospel, it develops in a slightly different way from last week’s story, but we see a kind of conversation which could well belong to ‘Apologetics,’ the Canaanite woman argues her case, hence she is seeking to ‘serve the Lord and love his name’, as we saw as a requirement not only for foreigners, but for all God’s family, as outlined in the first Reading. Our Lord honours that WORD, and sees in this woman…..great faith! Great Covenant fidelity. Finally, to cap it off, this woman is not so much interceding for herself but for her child! Her prayerful wish was not only granted, but she received new life as well; this new life is open to all foreigners! To all the children in Canaan!
Well, what about us? As God’s Word unfolds this weekend, we can easily see that it is packed with repercussions for us, and our outlook on ‘newcomers’ to our country, to our City, to our suburbs, to our family, and seeking requests through marriage to be with us. This raises big questions in my mind, especially as I look at my inner attitudes towards newcomers, and it really questions my truth in real hospitality, and acceptance. This also runs sideways as I keep my mind and heart open to other ways of doing things, other ways of living. God’s Word this weekend especially calls me to my knees, as I take heed once again of Our Lord’s command……’whatever you do to the least of my brother and sisters, you do it to me’……..Real Food for Thought, and Action……..
God Bless you and your families,
and may we always keep each other in mind, the next time that we are held in
gazing with the Lord, Your friend and brother in the Lord, Fr.Kev
PS: Don’t forget to check out the FUNNIES TAB at the Website! Exciting and strange things are happening in the little Village of Finuge, County Kerry, Ireland
OUR FAMILY PRAYER OF INTERCESSION…….
Leader: Gathered in this house of prayer, let us call upon
our God. PAUSE FOR A COUPLE OF MOMENTS……
Family members might like to take one intercession each….
1.That Jews, Christians, and Muslims, and all people of faith may find renewed strength in God’s mercy let us pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.
2.That all nations and peoples may find lasting peace in God’s guidance, let us pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.
3.That the ill, the infirm, and the dying may find abundant comfort in God’s deliverance. let us pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.
4..That all who worship here may find welcome joy in God’s gifts, let us pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.
5. That those who have died especially the members of our family, and people that we have known or heard about in the news may find everlasting glory in God’s salvation let us pray to the Lord: Lord, graciously hear us.
6. Would anyone like to share a prayer for the world, our country, Australia, our City, our Parish, our friends…….
Leader: Lord, with the persistence of the Canaanite woma we boldly call out
our needs, for you always listen to the prayers of your people. Grant us your
generous blessings in Christ Jesus, both now and for ever. Amen.