Liturgy and Parish Liaison

I have come to bring fire to the earth…
Luke 12:49

The following is from a homily for this Sunday's Gospel (Luke 12:49-53) by Fr Richard Leonard SJ, who is the author of Preaching to the Converted, Paulist Press, New York, 2006. We are grateful for his permission to reprint here.

In our desire to affirm that the scriptures are inspired, it can be easy to forget that they come out of the lived experience of a community of faith. Indeed, one of the things that is wonderful about our belief in God's revelation is that it occurs within human experience. Today's Gospel is an excellent example. Jesus predicts that one of the consequences of believing in him is that divisions will follow.

We can tell from the whole text of Luke's Gospel that these divisions were certainly a part of the earliest Christian community which wrote this book and that their faith in Christ led them to confront some very tough issues: how could Gentiles inherit the promises made to the Jews; why the rich members of the community had special responsibility to the poor; the centrality of forgiveness in the Christian life; and what leadership role women should have in the earliest Church. We know that fights over these issues and faith in Jesus as the Christ or the Messiah, divided families and villages, cities, nations and a religious tradition.

This gospel is both a stark reminder of the costs involved in following Jesus and a comfort to us in the church today. Sometimes we can domesticate the Christian community into a 'feel-good' society. Our religious words and actions, however, are always meant to have an edge; our faith should 'afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted'. If Christians at home, at work, in society and on the international stage just go along with what is trendy or current because we're frightened of conflict or because we want to be seen to be part of the crowd, then we are not worthy of this Gospel.

Sometimes when we hear Jesus use the metaphor of a blazing fire we can see a violent image, but I am not sure if it has to be exclusively interpreted this way. Fire is sometimes necessary and good to clear out the layers of undergrowth built up over time that smother the soil of a forest and prevent new growth. Fire is a beacon that gives guidance and attracts attention. A blazing fire can attract everyone to its light, warmth and power. So maybe this Gospel is a call to purge the weight of old growth that can stop fresh thinking. Maybe it gives guidance to us in the justice we are meant to live and the attention we must call to the needs of all God's children. And maybe it is a reminder that the life of our Christian community is meant to be attractive through its gentle power and warmth. If the price we pay for witnessing to any of these values is that we divide the crowd, so be it.

What's comforting about this gospel is that it recognises conflict as a necessary part of the Christian life. There are some who want to pretend that the followers of Jesus should never disagree with one another or with those outside the Church. Conflict in itself, Jesus teaches us today, is an element of our commitment to the kingdom of God. What marks out the way we should disagree with one another inside and outside the Church, however, is that it is conducted with charity, dignity, careful listening and compassion. Christians always look to put the best possible interpretation on the opinions of those with whom we disagree and to be reconciled to those we have hurt, to heal divisions where we can.

© Richard Leonard SJ.

Footnote: Fr Richard Leonard is Director of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting. We look forward to his talk on 'Social Media; how do people of faith download the best & leave the rest?' on Monday 2nd September, 7:30-9:00pm, GBLT. Father Richard is brought to the College, as part of the Inigo Program.

Community Mass

Friendly, joyous celebration of the Eucharist right here at John XXIII College Fridays in term time.

Time: 8:00-8:30 Fridays

Where: Chapel

Who: All parents, students, staff and friends of the College.

Next Community Mass - Friday 30th August. All welcome!

Parish Life

Come and see....

The world Christian Life Community (CLC) is a lay Ignatian association, with a growing membership in WA. In the spirit of St Ignatius of Loyola, CLC seeks to find God in all things. To learn more about this spirit-building movement and how the spirituality of Ignatius can bring meaning to contemporary life, come to the formation meeting of the Nedlands-CLC group.

Date: Tuesday, 20 August

Time: 9:30-11am

Where: Holy Rosary Parish Centre, Elizabeth St. corner Tyrell, Nedlands.

Visit www.clcaustralia.org.au for more information, or call Alma Kort at 9386-3782, aakort@gmail.com. See you there!

Sacramental program

This year, the Sacramental Program has been a team effort of families, parishes and class teachers. Many students in years 3, 4 and 6 have now celebrated First Reconciliation, First Holy Communion and Confirmation. If you have any questions about sacramental preparation, please contact Mary-Anne Lumley: Lumley.mary-anne@johnxxiii.edu.au