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Last Thursday, after celebrating mass at OLSH College, I came down to the OLR Primary School grounds to greet the children just arriving for school. Many of them were excited to see me. Others approached me to say “hi” and “good morning” and some expressed their happiness by shaking hands and even giving a little hug. I was really surprised by their enthusiasm and excitement at seeing me among them. I also made sure that one of the teachers was with me so as to safeguard both the children and myself. I had a chat with some of them for a while. One of the kindergarten girls asked me: “Father Alo, have you seen God”. I answered: “Yes” with no further explanation. She nodded and went away. That whole day, I was troubled by her question. It would have been easy for me to give some theological explanation when saying “yes” to an adult person by stating that seeing God is not a physical but a spiritual experience. I am pretty sure that the question of a little imaginative girl might be more spiritual rather than one of “seeing God” physically.
While reflecting on the little girl’s question, I happened to come across Father Michael Fallon’s (MSC) homily for this Sunday’s readings. He says: “One of the key dimensions of Saint Augustine’s conversion experience was his realisation of the truth that the God whom he was seeking was not somewhere outside. God is at the heart of every creature, holding it in existence. Augustine came to see that what attracted him in the people and the things around him was God hidden in their depths but revealing himself in the beauty of what he has made. Creatures are attractive in so far as they share in the beauty of God. He realised also that the God who attracted him in others was at the centre of his own being.” This is a kind of ‘inward’ experience of God. Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta had a different approach to finding God. She sought the face of God in the poor and needy ones. She said: “Seeking the face of God in everything, everyone, all the time, and his hand in every happening; this is what it means to be contemplative in the heart of the world. Seeing and adoring the presence of Jesus, especially in the lowly appearance of bread, and in the distressing disguise of the poor” (Mother Teresa, In the Heart of the World: Thoughts, Stories and Prayers). Blessed Teresa’s was an outward experience of God, of finding God in the world we live in.
Today’s gospel is about understanding Jesus as the bread of life. He gives his life for us but also asks us to be his bread for the world. We have to attend to our own need/hunger for love (inward) while also looking out for and feeding others who are in need of love (outward). Human hunger can be physical, psychological or spiritual. I was struck by Mother Teresa’s words: “When a poor person dies of hunger, it has not happened because God did not take care of him or her. It has happened because neither you nor I wanted to give that person what he or she needed. You and I, we are the Church, no? We have to share with our people. Suffering today is because people are hoarding, not giving, not sharing. Jesus made it very clear. Whatever you do to the least of my brethren, you do it to me.” It is a virtue to be able to give from the little one has, to the poor. We must always be mindful that the instruction from the compassionate heart of Jesus is clear, that is, to “Love one another as I have loved you” (John 13:34).
“From the beginning the Church has been a mother with a heart open to the whole world, and has been without borders” Pope Francis 2015.
On 30 August at the 9.30 am Mass we are celebrating the 101st World Day of Migrants and Refugees. We are planning to have many of our OLR parishioners from different cultural backgrounds involved in the liturgy. Please feel free to wear your national dress to the mass and bring a small plate of food to share for morning tea after Mass.
We hope to have a great crowd at this Mass to celebrate the rich diversity, friendship and solidarity of our OLR community.
The Justice & Peace Office invite parishioners to read the latest issue of the Act Justly, a newsletter about peace, justice, ecology and development within the Sydney Archdiocese. In this issue are articles about: the Josephite Counter Trafficking Project and the counter-trafficking work of St Joseph’s Parish, Enfield; the social justice work of Engadine Parish, St John Bosco, in East Timor; and a list of events being held in Sydney this month. The newsletter is available online via the JPO website http://justiceandpeace.org.au/.
Because Every Marriage Matters
For Engaged and Committed Dating Couples
SMARTLOVING ENGAGED is a dynamic, multimedia course designed to deepen your connection and prepare you for living fully and joyfully as a couple.
Five Dock | Saturdays: Oct 3rd, 10th & 17th | 1-4pm
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A free Community event. An opportunity to ask questions, explore and learn about life’s grief. Monday 31st August 2015, 11am -1pm- The Tree of Hope Room, Mary Potter Wing – 2c West Street (Corner Thomas Street), Lewisham. Easy bus/train connection. Bookings are essential, Patricia Thomas – 0438 263 036 / 9649 firstname.lastname@example.org.
All are invited to this special service hosted by Bishop Terry Brady at St Mary’s Cathedral on Wednesday, 2 September commencing at 7pm. This service will honour and remember the names of those who have lost their lives through suicide or misadventure. A Juniper Tree of Hope will symbolically highlight and recognise those loved ones who have been lost. This service will be non-denominational and open to all in the community, providing opportunity for consolation, reflection, solace, prayer and solidarity. RSVP to Patricia Thomas by Wed, 26 August – email@example.com or by phone 02 9649 6423.
Wed 2nd September 2015, 7.30 – 9pm at the PADDINGTON RSL CLUB – 220-232 Oxford St, Paddington, opposite the Town Hall. Topic: “Guess who’s coming to dinner?” A panel of three: Vashti Hughes, writer, theatre and movie performer; Tru Nguyen, msc, a young Vietnamese refugee who in July was ordained as a Catholic priest & Mohamed Taha, a reporter and producer for TV, radio and online news. Moderator: Susan Eichorn. Donation entry. More info: Marea
0414 873 910.
A wealthy business man and his wife whom I know personally had a big dream for their only daughter’s future. They had a dream that one day she would have a good husband who is interested in running the family business. To fulfill their dream, they sent their daughter to do her studies overseas in several countries like United States, Germany and Taiwan. The girl was remarkably intelligent. She got several degrees in different areas. However in Taiwan she came to know the Missionaries of Charity Congregation that was founded by Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta. After some long discernment, she then decided to join this congregation in Taipei. This community is focusing on serving poor and the sick, the dying, tramps, and orphans, in keeping the charism of Mother Teresa. Decision to join religious life was really a big shock for the parents who had a different dream. After a few years they came to realize their daughter’s call. In his will, the man donated three thirds of his wealth for any kind of charity, not necessary to his daughter’s congregation.
In today’s gospel Jesus once again calls himself as the “True Bread” that gives life to the world. Whoever eats this bread and believe in him will have eternal life (John 6:47-48). It is an invitation to us to attach ourselves to him if we desire to have life. This is similar to the parable of the “Vine” when Jesus describes himself as the vine and we are the branches. He says: “I am the vine and you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit, apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Jesus has given himself to us as our food for eternal life. He gave assurance that attached to him we will have life. In commissioning his disciples he said: “As the Father has sent me, now I am sending you” (John 20:21). Earlier he said: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you” (John 15:9) and “you may love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12).
Being a follower of Jesus means to live in his own sentiments and understanding. It was clear to us that he has given his life to us by loving us unconditionally, and now it is our turn to give our own life of own flesh to become food for others. The story above has shown that the daughter of the business man has become a bread of life for others. And not just herself but the parents as well have been involved in charity works for the poor and the needy ones. They have also become a bread of life for others. We may not have to become like them. We have our ordinary way of making ourselves “bread of life” for others. I may quote what Fr. Michael Fallon says in his homily of today: “We give our ‘flesh’ to someone when we give ourselves in all that it means to be part of the human condition. We give our flesh when we give our time, our activity, our energy, our work. We give our flesh when we give our real self in all its weakness. We give our flesh when we keep loving even when it causes us pain” (Michael Fallon MSC: Homily on 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time).