ahiahi pai/ Good afternoon,
Well I am back home after a good relaunch in Ashburton and a very positive response. They have a gathering tonight to plan and set up new groups. A huge thank you for Stephanie Butchard’s support and hard work along with the PFG coordinators and our new parish Coordinator Trevor Wall who has just been fantastic.
I had the good fortune to travel with Fr. Joe Moons an American Passionist who was Provincial for the past eight years. A very humble and spiritual man and with that typical Passionist way of being down to earth.
I am at home this week and next week before travelling up to Tauranga to meet with Deb and Bryan Davidson and then onto Paeroa for their relaunch on 7th October – all is progressing well thanks to the drive and support of Charlie and Maggi Gribble. Talk about living the Passionist charism, they have it in spades.
The readings this week speak powerfully about how we are to approach God and this is in tandem with how we approach one another. The most important lesson we can take from the gospel is to seek the humility, openness, and genuineness of the tax collectors and prostitutes. That speaks of us being open and honest with ourselves knowing that our own selfishness and weakness is seen more of an obstacle. We can be blind to our own power and our belief that we are better than others. Status is not a thing Christians should see; it only binds us to the letter of the law and the trappings of power and prestige.
God in Jesus promotes and promises that his healing love is open to all and all who heed his call will be invited through the door of compassion and forgiveness. If we are willing to see our failings, then it’s impossible for God’s grace not to enter in and heal us. Remember, the status of any person meant little to Jesus, what mattered was what is in your heart.
Reflect, today, upon how open you are to seeing the truth of God – Do not be afraid to humble yourself before God, admitting your faults and failures. Embracing this level of humility will open the doors of God’s mercy toward you. Check your status and allow the healing touch of mercy to enter your minds and hearts. May the Passion of Jesus be always on your minds and in your heart.
Have a good week – God go with you.
Scripture reflection: Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A, 1st October 2023. Christ obedient unto death
O God, who manifest your almighty power above all by pardoning and showing mercy, bestow, we pray, your grace abundantly upon us and make those hastening to attain your promises heirs to the treasures of heaven.
First reading: Ezekiel 18:25-28
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 24(25):4-9
Second reading: Philippians 2:1-11
Gospel: Matthew 21:28-32.
Link to readings – click here
This week’s readings call us to turn to the Lord, modelling our actions and words on Christ Jesus. The First Reading, from the prophet Ezekiel, gives hope. Those who think better of their situation and renounce it are given life. The Psalm reveals the heartfelt prayer of someone turning away from their sin and embracing the gift of new life.
The apostle Paul shows what it is to give up sin and take on the mind of Christ (Second Reading). The Church at Philippi was on the whole a source of joy for Paul, but here he appeals for greater unity. This is reached only by imitating the humility of Christ, who became obedient even unto death. Out of love for us, Christ even gives up his divinity, freely and without reservation.
Amidst growing tension following the overturning of the money changers’ tables in the Temple, the religious leaders confront Jesus, demanding to know the source of his authority. Jesus tells the parable of the two sons, and poses a question, causing the chief priests to reflect on the difference between putting self or others first. By answering correctly, thereby aligning themselves to the boy who said he would do his Father’s will but then doesn’t, they convict themselves (Gospel).
This week, let us keep close to Christ, who obeyed the Father perfectly in word and deed. And let us remember that it is never too late for us to turn to God and follow God’s will.
Disconnected and lonely?
Although we’ve never been more digitally connected, a third of Australians still feel lonely. One in six people report feeling severely lonely, and the people we are least socially connected to, are our neighbours. These are some of the key findings in the first State of the Nation report into social connection, from ‘Ending Loneliness Together’.
Lead researcher, Michelle Lim reported, “People can, and often are, reporting feeling lonely, even though they are not physically isolated.” The report defined loneliness as “a distressing feeling we get when we feel disconnected from other people, and desire more (or more satisfying) social relationships”. She added that “around 15% of the population say that they always and often feel lonely and highest percentage is in the 18-24 age group.”
Around 27% of 18 to 24-year-olds reporting social media addiction. Dr Lim suggested, “In terms of how social media plays a role, it’s not very much about frequency, but about how we actually use social media itself.”
The experience of loneliness impacts many people at different times, but there’s growing evidence it is as bad for your health as smoking or obesity. So why are we becoming disconnected from friends and family, and what impact is it having on the health and wellbeing of Australians? Dr Lim says while spending time alone is healthy, chronic loneliness has serious impacts. “When we try to ignore the feeling of loneliness and stay disconnected, there’s robust scientific evidence that it’s extremely detrimental to our health and wellbeing.”
Studies have shown loneliness is as deadly as smoking half a packet of cigarettes a day, and increases the risk of death by 26 per cent. It’s linked with an increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, dementia and mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. The theories around why loneliness effects the body so drastically are varied, but experts say there’s evidence of a neuroendocrine response associated with chronic stress. There are also psychosocial factors — the presence of people can reaffirm healthier choices such as seeking a doctor’s advice for medical issues.
Social isolation and loneliness are different things. Loneliness is often described as a feeling of dissatisfaction that arises when social relationships are not meeting emotional needs. Australians are having less social contact than ever before, and also reporting increasing rates of loneliness. Since 2001, there has been a definite decline in the frequency of social contact, which worsened during the years of the COVID pandemic.
Dr Lim says, “Loneliness is part and parcel of life, but what’s not normal is when we don’t respond by reaching out to reconnect.” Sociologists are wrestling with the question of whether Australians are less interested in friendship, or being isolated by factors outside their control. The main drivers of social isolation are thought to be social media, longer working hours, more people living alone, and declining participation in church groups and volunteer organisations.
While technological developments such as video calls and phone apps are often credited with connecting people, there’s increasing evidence they are no substitute for face-to-face contact. “The number of close friends that Australians have has approximately halved since the mid 1980s, as has the number of neighbours who we know well enough to drop in on uninvited. MP Andrew Leigh says social values have changed, with “being busy” increasingly seen as a virtue. “We’ve become more individualistic as people, and less communitarian,” he says. There are signs Australians are struggling on a personal level with how to go about making friends as an adult.
Reflection: How does this report speak to our experience, wherever we live or belong?
Fr Joe Moons CP just finished twelve years as Passionist Provincial of the USA Western Province. We shared a few days showing him the sights of Aotearoa. Auckland thanks to Jocelyn and Billy Uasike, Christchurch with Murray and Aileen Straight and myself visiting Tekapo, Queenstown, Arrowtown, Milford Sound and back to Queenstown for me to fly to Wellington and Joe to Sydney. He had a wonderful time and was blown away by the scenery and the hospitality of our PFG.
Mitre Peak Milford Sound. Tekapo – Church of the Good Shepherd
Reminder: 5 Aims and Goals
- share & celebrate life & faith
- support one another (especially in need)
- reaching out to & include others
- build community/extended family
- show example to children
Pease remember in your thoughts and prayer:
- Please keep David Victoria and baby in your prayers Still a watch and wait exercise.
- Please keep a friend in mind who is in very early stages of pregnancy but has had a few miscarriages so, things are touch and go.
- Please keep Robert van de Pas in your prayers – he continues to struggle with pain etc from Chronic Pancreatitis.
- Keep in mind all those who are struggling with various aspects of mental health.
- Please keep Richard and Sue Gibbs in your prayers -He is showing good signs of improvement
- Please keep Debbie and her husband Bryan in your prayer. Deb is battling with thyroid cancer she is undergoing Radiation treatment
- Please keep Bernie Metcalfe and family in your prayers
- Please keep in mind Merrilyn Barron who is still unwell
- Please remember Martin van der Wetering in your prayers as his health still is causing his grief and discomfort.
- Please remember Phil Drew a former Passionist who has had a massive stroke. Please remember his wife Anne and family
- Please keep in your prayers those who continue to deal with the after effects of Cyclone Gabrielle and other weather events.
- Keep in prayer the people of Ukraine
- Please keep Somalia and the surrounding countries dealing with their sixth year in a row of drought.
- Please keep Nick and Leah and daughter Heidi Darbyshire along with Paul and Linda in your thoughts and prayer.
- Please pray for Dot and Neill Wilson (Invercargill) – their son-in-law Mark married to Dot’s daughter Anita has been diagnosed with aggressive brain tumour, Please keep in mind their daughter Bailey and son Taylor.
- Remember Pat and Rod Carson
- Aidan son of Josie and Phil McIntyre –his parents are his caregivers.
- Your own intentions
- What do you call a fish with no eyes? Fsh.
- What should you do if you meet a giant? Use big words.
- What do you call a cow with two legs? Lean beef.
- What sits on the seabed and has anxiety? A nervous wreck.
- What do you call a man wearing a rug on his head? Matt.
- What’s the best air to breathe if you want to be rich? Millionaire.
- Why did the girl toss a clock out the window? She wanted to see time fly.
- Where do armies belong? In your sleeves.
- What did one plate say to another plate? Tonight, dinner’s on me.
- Did you hear about the king that went to the dentist? He needed to get crowns.
- What happens when doctors get frustrated? They lose their patients.