Faith and Justice

"There is in Christ only one human family under God where everyone … is unconditionally loved and has equal dignity and status." Fr Richard Leonard SJ

This week is Refugee Week. It is also the College Lifelink Campaign fortnight.

The following is a shortened version of a homily for this Sunday by Fr Richard Leonard SJ, who is the author of Preaching to the Converted, Paulist Press, New York, 2006.

This Sunday's reading from Galatians (3:26-29) is considered to be the earliest baptismal formula we have in the New Testament. The reference to baptism is one indication of this, as is the invocation of the robe by which we were all clothed in Christ, but even more so is what follows. St Paul goes on to give the community at Galatia a definition of what these external signs should mean in the life of the community: 'there are no more distinctions between Jew and Greek, slave and free, male and female, but all of you are one in Christ Jesus.'

We need to own that our Catholic community has not been worthy of this charge for a good part of its history, and we often still fail to live up to this ideal. Frail and sinful human beings that we are, we allowed multiple distinctions to appear among us in a very short period of time. And some of them are still with us today.

For example, we have accepted into our church order social customs and other religious traditions that actively exclude women from participation in ritual and decision-making, declaring them at various times in our history to be unclean, a source of temptation, and misbegotten men. This worked itself out into terrible crimes against women's dignity, and even meant that some women were put to death in the name of God.

Tragically, the same can be said of the Jews, where a false reading of the Passion stories legitimated waves of Jewish persecution over the centuries, and gave rise to anti-Semitism. And when we turn to slaves and free people, we have to own that at one stage the church taught that slavery was a divine institution and so was very slow to stand with the emancipation cause.

So why concentrate on this bad news today? Because, as our Jewish brothers and sisters tell us, if we forget where we have come from, we are likely to commit the same sins again, and we need to take that momentum into our future as we become the inclusive community Jesus lived out, and St Paul taught we should be.

But all of this has a cost, which is what Jesus tells us in today's Gospel (Luke 9:18-24): 'If you want to be a follower of mine, renounce yourself and take up your cross every day and follow me.' All too often we can hear this line as either a once and for all moment, or as only applying to the big actions in our lives. I think, however, that it has as much to do with how we think and what our attitudes are, as much as it's concerned with what we do.

For example, choosing to let go of deep-seated racist, sexist and bigoted prejudices might be the most telling way we could renounce our worldly selves, and take up the inclusive cross of Christ. And how do we know when we have achieved this? Friends are normally a good indication about our resolve in this regard. Who we have in our home says so much about what and whom we include in our lives.

Let's pray for the grace to lose our life in such a way that we find it again in Christ, in whom there is no such thing as a Jew or Greek, a slave or free person, a man or a woman. There is in Christ only one human family under God where everyone from pope to pauper is unconditionally loved and has equal dignity and status. That's the kingdom we're sent to build.

LIFELINK Campaign

Inspiration
This week year 11 students were privileged to have a 'Shopfront' talk, and were touched by the story told to them by Kevin. For some, he made an impression by 'speaking from the heart'; for others it was his honesty about his past; for others it was the consequences of his previous drug use - and his recovery from addiction; for others it was the harsh realities of his former 'life on the streets'.

What is Shopfront?
Aim: relieve poverty and suffering in an environment that offers practical assistance, fellowship and hospitality. It is supported by volunteers who assist in a friendly, non-bureaucratic manner.

Shopfront networks with, and refers to, other agencies as appropriate, to get the best outcome for all who walk through the door.

Shopfront aims to empower people in the Church to use their gifts and talents in a spirit of solidarity to assist those in need of assistance.

Shopfront is one of 12 Lifelink Agencies who assist people in need right here in Perth.

What services does Shopfront offer?

  • Food and drink for those who call in.
  • Shower & clothes washing facilities for those who are homeless.
  • Emergency accommodation, food for families, transport vouchers or phone cards.
  • Visits from Street Doctor, Community Centrelink Team, Mental Health Worker.
  • Referral of those with health and homeless issues to appropriate Government and Private agencies.
  • Assist people with long term housing, employment and advocacy by referring them to other organisations.
  • Through St Vincent de Paul, sometimes assist with clothing, bedding, furniture, non-electrical household goods and some financial assistance with bill paying, for those in hardship.

What is Secondary doing for Shopfront?

  1. Next week from Monday to Friday - collecting hamper items in homeroom.

See list of required items

  1. Friday 28th - Money chain in the colonnades/free dress day

This has everything to do with our Ignatian values of: hospitality; being women & men for and with others; seeking justice.

NAIDOC Celebrations

NAIDOC Week celebrations are held across Australia each July to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples - this year 7th - 14th July.

The College will welcome in NAIDOC week on the last day of term, with a Smoking Ceremony on the Chapel Lawn before school, followed by Welcome to Country and short Prayer Assembly during homeroom. All students and parents welcome.

Details for Smoking Ceremony

WHEN: Friday 5th July

TIME: 8:15-8:30

WHERE: Chapel Lawn

WHO: Staff, parents, students

Is the Smoking Ceremony optional?
It is optional - but we encourage you to attend this special annual ceremony. The students find it an engaging experience.

What about Community Mass?
Friday 5th July only - Community Mass will start 15 mins earlier - at 7:45.

What is a Smoking Ceremony?
Performed by an Aboriginal elder, it is an ancient and timeless ceremony that heals and purifies the participants and the area. In a smoking ceremony, leaves are smouldered on a small fire. The smoke covers the participants' bodies, ridding them of what is not needed, and strengthening them when they feel sad or weak.

What is a Welcome to Country?
Also performed by an elder, it is a traditional Aboriginal blessing, symbolising the traditional owners' consent to an event taking place on their land.

What Does NIADOC stand for?
The name is historical, but stands for National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee. Further information on the website: http://www.naidoc.org.au/about/naidoc-history/

What if my child has asthma?
Precautions:

- Ensure your son/daughter brings their puffer/spacer to school on 5th July

- Students should administer their puffer prior to the smoking ceremony

- Students should bring their puffer/spacer with them to the ceremony on the Chapel Lawn

- As smoke may trigger an attack, Asthma sufferers need to think carefully before attending

- If student is unwell with asthma on July 5th, they must not attend the ceremony at 8:15am

- Students should not attend the ceremony, and should avoid the Chapel Lawn area if parents are concerned about their asthma condition/possible complications.

Sacramental Program

This week we are delighted to congratulate Georgia Than-Htay who made her first Communion at Infant Jesus Morley last weekend, and Isaac Garces who will make his Confirmation this weekend at St Jerome's parish in Munster. This year the College Sacramental program is family-focused, parish-based and school supported, in line with archdiocesan guidelines. Enquiries: http://www.johnxxiii.edu.au/view/parent-resources/parish (This link is updated regularly) OR email: lumley.mary-anne@johnxxiii.edu.au