Saturday, May 21, 2011

Warrnambool in the rearview mirrow

Will be heading off to Melbourne in a few hours.  After two or three days in the Jesuit community in Parkside, which is in the center of the city near the university, Michael and I will drive back to Sydney.  Twelve hours.  In the car.  Ugh.  Not ugh being in a car with Michael but driving/riding for 12 hours.  Driving is not relaxing when you have to think every moment, particularly during turns, about what you are doing.  It is also a long long drive.  

Nonetheless, the time in Warrnambool was deeply consoling.  We closed the retreat yesterday and then had time to chat over "a cuppa" and some sweets.  I celebrated Mass last evening.  Homily attached here with some photos.  Alas, the weather, the fact that it gets dark at 5 PM (it is winter down here) and persistent rain conspired against a lot of photos.  However, I did get down to the beach for about two hours on Wednesday and have included a few of the photos as well as one that I played with on a day off when the rain prevented leaving the house.  

5th Sunday of Easter
21 May 2011
Acts 6:1-7
Psalm 33
1 Ptr 2:4-9
Jn 14:1-12

The readings from Acts of the Apostles, readings that are particularly prominent in the Easter season, narrate the earliest history of our Church.   At the end of the first reading on Tuesday we heard, “And it was at Antioch that they were first called Christians.” 

Today we hear more of that early history, warts and all.  Being a member of the Christian community has never been easy.  That we are sinners has been made obvious again and again throughout history; the history of the Church, the history of the world and our own personal histories. 

Just as parents hear something like, “Mommmmm, it isn’t fair.  You gave her a bigger piece.”  The Greeks complained that the Hebrews weren’t  fair in the distribution of food.  It is more than likely that the Hebrews had their own complaints about fairness against the Greeks.  Human behaviors haven’t changed in thousands of years.   We are no worse.  But we are no better either.

In response to the complaints within the community this reading from Acts describes the beginning of the order of deacon, men chosen and specially ordained through the laying on of hands, to serve the community in a specific way.  

A close reading of scripture reminds us that what we have in the Church today, the Eucharist, the hierarchy and even the human squabbles and disagreements, have been with us from the very beginning.

The second reading from the First Letter of Peter is taken from a section subtitled, “The Dignity of the Christian Vocation,” the dignity in the inherent call to being Christian.  “Like living stones let yourselves be built into a spiritual house . . .”

The Church is always under construction, it is always being rebuilt and remodeled.  Over the next few months we will experience some very obvious rebuilding with the new prayers for the Mass will highlight that constant work of the Church in her greatest prayer and worship. 

The ultimate integrity of that spiritual edifice built of living stone, depends solely on Jesus remaining the cornerstone, the stone without which everything would collapse. 

Both Thomas and Phillip have interchanges with Jesus in the Gospel.  They are revealing. 

Jesus responds to Thomas’ question, “how can we know the way?”  with a triple I AM statement, a statement that is a perfect summary of Him as the Revealer of God the Father: “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”  

Just as was true in the Gospel last Sunday, we hear another exclusive statement:  I am the only way to salvation.  Only Jesus is the way in a world with many blind alleys.  Only Jesus is the truth in a world of lies.  Only Jesus is the life in a society Blessed John Paul II characterized as a “culture of death.”  Jesus is the Way, the Truth, the Life.  Only He is the cornerstone.

Philip’s request reflects the inability of the disciples truly recognize Jesus before the experience of Pentecost. “Show us the Father, that will be enough for us.”  One can sense Jesus’ irritation at the request.  “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.”  The only access to “seeing” God is through the Son, the Son who took on human flesh, who took on human concerns, who lived life the same way we do. 

The only way to “see” God is to see the Son who was tempted but who, unlike us, did not sin.  There is no direct vision of God only the indirect vision of faith.  All that Jesus is for us, He is by reason of His obedience to do the Father’s will.  Therefore, the works He does, the signs He performs, the words He speaks and the revelation He brings are all the work of the Father, are all windows to see the Father.

Later on in John’s Gospel we will hear a beatitude to add to those from the Sermon on the Mount:  “Blessed are those who have not seen yet believe.”

Only as we allow ourselves to become the living stones of the Church, only as we allow ourselves to be held in place by Jesus the cornerstone, can we truly sing, as we will in a few minutes: Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.  Hosanna in the Highest.

The beach was about twenty minutes and one big hill by foot from the house.  
Three men were cleaning their catch of fish.  The sea gulls were going wild. 
The first picture showed the bay.  This one is opposite the first on the other side of the breakwater.  The tip is called Thunder Point.  It was getting cold and too dark to continue walking to the point as it was going to take an hour to walk home. 
Snakes?  Who in his right mind is going to go into the water at Shipwreck Beach? 
This last is the result of hours at the desk playing with photos.  The moth got stuck in a spider web.  And then it got stuck in Aperture 3. 
Off to empty the dryer and finish packing. 
+Fr. Jack

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