ahiahi pai/ Good afternoon,
Another week passes and the readings cause us to once again be challenged to look at our response to this week’s gospel. We have all been to weddings and realise what a fabulous occasion they are. How, it is always good to catch up with relatives and friends we have not seen for some time.
Strange, that people in this parable would decide not to attend this wedding – when we first consider this parable. However, a moment or two in our current climate we see and have seen many people who have opted out of things they use to do and consider important. Covid created an opportunity for us to push the ‘pause button’ and then people questioned what they were doing and why? Others, saw it as an opportunity to stop doing some things and meeting people. The effect was that we saw people showing their fear and their reticence to keep doing things the way they had; plus, the desire to do things differently. The jury is out as to whether it’s been a good thing or not.
But, the parable shows us that if we let things go which we are free to do we may miss opportunities to see God present and working in ways that provide opportunities. The King in this parable after his invitation is rejected requests his servants to go out invite good and bad alike. This is a different challenge to allow people to let go and be open for something new, something unexpected. This for me, suggests God’s love is enormous and there is always a way home through the loving mercy of God. A welcome mat is there for us even if we feel unworthy.
The Spirit, is always with us, to bring light into the darkness, to bring courage to timid hearts, but, most of all, to bring love where there is no love, and care where there is no care, and good, honest feeling that we are indeed God’s children and we are indeed God’s family. We continue to hunger for a good and honest and just world. But, most of all, our hearts hunger for the love of God, who calls us into one family, and will make us, forever and ever, one family for all eternity. What is a surprise and bring life, light and hope is that, ‘all are welcome’ – love overcomes all things.
Have a good week – God go with you,
Scripture reflection: Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A, 15 October 2023. I have my banquet all prepared. Come to the wedding!
May your grace, O Lord, we pray, at all times go before us and follow after and make us always determined to carry out good works.
First reading: Isaiah 25:6-10
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 22(23)
Second reading: Philippians 4:12-14, 19-20
Gospel: Matthew 22:1-14
Link to readings – click here
As the end of the liturgical year gradually approaches, the readings begin to focus on the kingdom of heaven and the era beyond the end of time. This week, both the First Reading and the Gospel invite us to think of sharing in the great feast that God prepares for us.
Isaiah explains how the Lord is preparing a banquet to which everyone will be welcome. There will be no more suffering or death. (First Reading) In contrast, the Gospel parable speaks of guests who are invited by the king to a great wedding feast, but fail to attend. As a result, the king gets his servants to ask everyone they can find, good and bad alike, to replace those who have made excuses.
The Psalm reminds us that the Lord will see to all our needs so that we shall not want. In the Second Reading, Paul writes to the Christian community in Philippi. Despite imprisonment and a probable death sentence, Paul has achieved a calm and accepting attitude to life through total trust and faith in the Lord.
This week, we might want to reflect on the way we respond when the Lord invites us to join him, and how we treat his messengers. In turn, perhaps we might feel called to invite those who seem to have been left by the wayside . . . good or bad.
Last week I had the good fortune to be at St Mary’s parish, Paeroa for their relaunch. Fr Mark Field was so supportive of the efforts of the community especially, with Maggie and Charlie Gribble who are just outstanding in their support for the Passionist Family Groups. It was a successful weekend with the good news of starting a new groups and adding some extras to the existing group.
This weekend I will be attending the Johnsonville 25th anniversary and speaking at their service due to their invitation. It’s a great milestone and they have been so fantastic in their support and promotion of Passionist Family Groups. Their new Minister Tony Woods is a great guy and brings much freshness, warmth and care to this community. If you wish to pass on your best wishes then please email Judith and Boyd Dunlop: email@example.com
I am in Nelson on Monday to meet with key PFG people and the two priests to discuss and plan out leadership and coordination of Passionist Family Groups.
On Wednesday I fly to Melbourne with my friend and former Passionist Tim Bartells and will celebrate the Feast of St Paul of the Cross and then I will be attending the annual Passionist Family Group Meeting.
The following are borrowed from Brian Traynor’s CP Letter 191
The Synod and Timothy Radcliffe
By Robert Mickens, October 7, 2023
Former Master of the Dominican friars Timothy Radcliffe, set the tone for the two-part “Synod on Synodality” (this year and October 2024), through a a three-day retreat before their historic assembly. What a week it has been here in the Eternal City! Lay members, a new venue, and a spiritual retreat
Although the Synod has no authority to make any binding decisions, and is only a consultative body for its president (the Roman Pontiff), it is dramatic that Francis has expanded its membership beyond bishops and other clerics and has named more than 50 women and just as many men as full voting members.
And instead of meeting in the amphitheater-shaped Synod Hall in rows by ecclesiastical rank, the more than 400 participants are gathered in the Paul VI Hall, grouped in small language groups, seated at roundtables. And for the first time in the history of the Synod, an assembly was preceded by a three-day spiritual retreat at a religious house several miles outside of Rome. The man the Jesuit pope asked to lead it was none ot her than Timothy Radcliffe, the former worldwide head of the Dominicans.
The 78-year-old Englishman, who was Master of the Order of Preachers from 1992-2001, gave six masterful reflections or conferences in the course of the October 1-3 retreat, using the Transfiguration of Jesus as their touchstone.
“This is the retreat Jesus gives to his closest disciples before they embark on the first synod in the life of the Church, when they walk together (syn-hodos) to Jerusalem,” Radcliffe said at the start of his first conference. “This retreat gives them the courage and hope to set off on their journey. It does not always go well. They immediately fail to free the young lad from the evil spirit. They quarrel about who is the greatest. They misunderstand the Lord. But they are on their way with a fragile hope,” he said.
“So we too prepare for our synod by going on retreat where, like the disciples, we learn to listen to the Lord. When we set off in three days’ time, we shall often be like those disciples, and misunderstand each other and even quarrel.
But the Lord will lead us onwards towards the death and resurrection of the Church,” the former Dominican Master said. And this reflection (or “meditation”) only became more and more inspiring from that point on – as did the other five, all presented in English, and which you can read or watch, thanks to Vatican News.*
When it was announced last January that the pope had asked Radcliffe to lead the pre-Synod retreat, it was almost like an answer to a prayer. Exactly two years ago, the “Letter from Rome” (“Red hats or little white lies”, 22 October 2021) noted that there were rumors that Francis was about to call a consistory to create more cardinals. In the end, these were little white lies. The pope did not give out another batch of reds. That would not happen until August 2022.
But the Letter speculated, nonetheless, on what surprises the Argentine pope might have for the Church at his next consistory. After all, in his previous seven consistories up to that point he had chosen a number of men from places and with positions that had never been led by a cardinal before. “Each time Francis creates new cardinal-electors, there is a chance that one of them could turn out to be his successor,” the piece said, while pointing out that not all of them are “viable candidates for papacy”. It added that the body of papal electors still would need “at least some who are known for their uncommon wisdom and insight, which can help the other electors discern who among them can best lead the Church at the present moment”. This is how that Letter concluded: One such person is Timothy Radcliffe, the 76-year-old former head of the Dominicans.
The British friar was Master of the Order of Preachers from 1992-2001. The author of numerous books and a popular lecturer, Radcliffe possesses numerous gifts, including those of listening and synthesizing, as well as building consensus. He’s a creative thinker and theological centrist who has a reverence and love for the Church’s “big-T” tradition. And his sense of compassion and respect for the dignity of even those who have been uncharitable and cruel towards him are legendary.
The former Master of the Dominicans has been dealing with some health issues the past few years that probably would disqualify him as papabile (a candidate for pope) if he were to actually be made a member of the College of Cardinals. But the Church could benefit immeasurably if he and more men – and women – like him were to be given a key role in helping to decide who comes next after Francis.
The six meditations that Timothy delivered last week at the pre-Synod retreat, could yet be part of that discernment process in the next conclave (whenever that takes place) just as much as it will be for this month’s Synod assembly on the Church’s future.
If you long to have your Christian hope rekindled, despite all the divisions and ugliness in our Church and world at this moment in time, do yourself a favor: prayerfully watch (and listen!) to the meditations. They are challenging and inspiring.*
Links to the Six Meditations by Timothy Radcliffe
First Meditation, “Hoping against hope”
Second Meditation, “At home in God and God at home in us”
Third Meditation, “Friendship”:
Fourth Meditation, “Conversation on the way to Emmaus”
Fifth Meditation, “Authority”:
Sixth Meditation, “The Spirit of Truth”
Consistent Ethic of Life – update
The New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference recently put out a revised version of the Consistent Ethic of Life – first published by them in 1997. John Kleinsman, Director of the Nathanial Centre for Bio-ethics and a member of our Province Formation Commission for 23 years, recommended it to our newsletter readers. There is much valuable reading on the Nathanial Centre website: http://www.nathaniel.org.nz/
The Consistent Ethic of Life document refers to eight key moral areas, including a new section on information technology and artificial intelligence.
You can access it here: https://www.catholic.org.nz/news/media-releases/tekahu/
Is the climate crisis real or not?
On October 4th, the feast of St Francis and the same day as the Synod began in Rome, Pope Francis released a new Apostolic Exhortation, ‘Laudato Deum’ (‘Praise God’) which is a follow-up to the well known 2014 Exhortation, ‘Laudato Si’. In the second paragraph, of Laudate Deum, Francis says, ”it is indubitable that the impact of climate change will increasingly prejudice the lives and families of many persons. We will feel its effects in the areas of healthcare, sources of employment, access to resources, housing, forced migrations, etc.”
Several weeks before the release of ‘Laudate Deum’, John Kleinsan (mentioned above) wrote an excellent editorial for August edition of the ‘The Nathanial Report’. National elections are to be held in New Zealand this coming weekend. The article is included in full here with John’s permission.
In a Varian Poll published 21 August, respondents were asked: “Which of the following issues will be most likely to influence your vote at the [October 2023] election?” As reported, 48% listed Cost of Living; 14% – Crime; 13% – Healthcare; 7% – Climate Change; 6% – Tax Cuts; and 3% Education.
After the year of natural disasters we have experienced in Aotearoa, and in the wake of daily continuous reports of unprecedented wildfires, rising sea and land temperatures and torrential flooding and fatal landslides in other parts of the world. I find it staggering that as few as 7% of people rank climate change as the most important issue. More so considering recent remarks by the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, that “the era of global warming has ended [because] the era of global boiling has arrived.”
Someone who gets it is 26-year-old Ugandan climate activist and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, Vanessa Nakate. In her message to the recently held Parliament of the World’s Religions, Nakate writes “demanding our elders stop mortgaging our future for fantasies of economic growth while the planet boils: threatening to collapse the Gulf Stream, glaciers and ice sheets melting faster than predicted, and the oceans reaching unprecedented temperatures.”
While well-known as a climate activist, Nakate is also a woman of faith who talks openly that her “greatest source of strength is [her] abiding faith in God”, something she admits many might find surprising:
They might assume I’d either be indifferent or even opposed to Christianity. I get it: Many of us have found our love for Earth rejected by our faith traditions as paganistic or even immoral. Too often, Christian leaders have told their followers that “real” salvation takes place … after this life ends; that the world is not ours to cherish or steward but dominate and subdue … How dare we lay waste to the beautiful planet [God] bequeathed us and which he promised never to destroy!
As things stand, God’s promise never to destroy the earth is morally meaningless because we are causing it to happen by our on-going failure to act.
With Pope Francis announcing that he is now writing a second part to Laudato si, and his insistence that “the younger generations have the right to receive a beautiful and liveable world from us, [which] implies that we have a grave responsibility towards creation”, one would expect the Catholic Church in Aotearoa to be at the forefront of climate action. Consider also that 17 years ago, 9 years before Laudato si, our bishops wrote:
The existence of extreme poverty and environmental destruction in our world are not natural forces, nor acts of God, but result from human behaviour. That behaviour is driven by values, priorities and decisions which do not see human life as a paramount concern.
It is further staggering then, that research carried out in Aotearoa in February 2023 by the climate movement, 350.org, shows concern for the climate crisis isn’t something most Aotearoa clergy are working on. Spokesperson for 350.org, Marilyn Yurjevich, describes the lack of clerical leadership in terms of a disjunction between recognising the duty to care for God’s creation but not feeling compelled to speak out or act on environmental matters. But she also adds: “Alternatively, they seem unaware of the severity of the planet’s current dire state.”
As the 2023 election looms, I continue to ponder the disjunction between our now well-developed theology of creation and its unequivocal articulation of the “grave responsibility” we have to protect all life versus the inaction of many Catholics, including but by no means limited to those in leadership.
Yurjevich has stated that because of the clergy’s disappointing engagement on environmental issues, she’s working without them. I still hope that our clergy and others in leadership roles will come to recognise the urgency of the situation. At the same time, the rest of us cannot take the risk of waiting – the “grave responsibility” Pope Francis describes falls on us all.
Returning to the Varian poll, I believe it is a mistake by the pollsters to pose the question in the way they have. Why? Because the concept of ‘ranking’ perpetuates the idea that the different issues sit alongside each other and can be considered in isolation when, in reality, everything is inter-connected. As the climate crisis worsens, the adverse weather events will only worsen and the consequences will increasingly flow through to the cost of living – food availability and price, insurance, housing and rates and other taxes to repair broken infrastructure – increasing the poverty gap and further negatively impacting people’s health and general well-being as a result of the associated physical, emotional, mental, social and financial stresses.
As our Bishops wrote in 2006: “Our world is facing an ecological crisis, which could equally be called an economic crisis, or a poverty crisis. Its public face is the suffering of the poor and the degradation of our environment …”
Those of us able to vote have both the power and responsibility to choose the candidates and parties that will give us the best chance of giving our younger and future generations a habitable world that is full of life and diversity – “beautiful and liveable” as God intended. Everything is connected.
John Kleinsman is director of the Nathaniel Centre for Bioethics
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. There has been some positive progress and it now looks as if this baby will make it to full term. Vicky is 6 months pregnant. Still wait and see.
- 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 in mind a son of a friend of mine who has just been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
- Please keep Debbie and her husband Bryan in your prayer. Deb is battling with thyroid cancer.
- Please keep Bernie Metcalfe and family in your prayers
- Please keep in mind Merrilyn Barron who is still unwell Awaiting results from MRI and to see a specialist.
- 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.
- Please keep Bob Buckley in your prayers- he is still in hospital – Rehabilitation
- Keep in prayer the people of Ukraine
- Keep people in Gaza and Israel in your prayer – these acts from both sides have had a horrible effect on the innocent as always.
- 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 bear with no teeth? A gummy bear.
- What invention allows us to see through walls? Windows.
- What’s orange and sounds like a parrot? A carrot.
- Why did the coach go to the bank? To get his quarter back.
- Why do nurses like red crayons? Sometimes they have to draw blood.
- What kind of jewelry do rabbits wear? 14 carrot gold.
- Why can’t the sailor learn the alphabet? Because he kept getting lost at C.
- What do you call a cheese that isn’t yours? Nacho cheese!