29th Sunday of Ordinary Time — Vigil Mass
Saturday, 18 October 2014 — Year A
First Reading: Is 45:1, 4-6 Second Reading: 1 Thess 1:1-5 Gospel: Mt 22:15-21
May God Bless each and every one of you.
What Our Nation Really Deserves
"The job of the newspaper is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable." Most of us who are familiar with the latter part of this sentence are not aware of its origins a century ago by Finley Peter Dunne, a journalist who wrote in the voice and persona of an Irishman named "Mr. Dooley."
He is commenting on the power of the media to influence society. This week Jesus asks us to reflect on all the factors that influence our actions.
The context of this week's Gospel passage is the ongoing confrontation between Jesus and the Pharisees. The glib words of the Pharisees drip with honey as they extol Jesus' sense of fairness, his sincerity and truth. All the while their intent is to trap him.
The Pharisees live to protect the law. Jesus recognises their malice and even calls them hypocrites. Before we put our hands on our hips and stand smugly behind Jesus in this confrontation, we all have to admit there's a bit of Pharisee in each of us, too. It's easier to follow civil and religious law than to form our consciences according to God's law of love.
Law is so clearly spelled out and sometimes leaves little for interpretation. We often forget that law follows life and that laws were created to give life to a society.
Individually and collectively we've all been under the influence of laws that are later acknowledged to be ill-conceived and actually wrong. The civil rights movement of the 1960s was a major wake-up call for everyone who lived through that time of great unrest and call to conscience.
Like the Pharisees, we're left to sort through our hidden agendas and challenged to act out of the appropriate authority. Perhaps today Mr. Dooley is asking each of us to consider whether Jesus' words comfort us because we are among the afflicted or afflict us because we are among the comfortable.
What government laws or policies do you think Jesus would change? Why?
Kind regards and God bless
Fr Richard Laurenson
For priestly vocations go to: thepriesthood.org.nz
St Peter Chanel Prayer
Heavenly Father, from the First Companions of the Society of Mary, you sent St Peter Chanel to bring the light of faith to the people of our islands.
In hardship and afflictions he gave understanding testimony to Christ by his words, his life and the shedding of his blood.
May our celebration of Christ’s death and resurrection make us also faithful witnesses to the new life he offers us.
Honoured in New Zealand
In New Zealand there are six parishes, four primary schools, one college, a National Shrine and a Diocesan centre dedicated in honour of St Peter Chanel, the Bi-Centenary of whose birth was on 12th July 2003. How is it that a saint of French origin is so honoured in this land?
Father Peter Chanel was one of the early group of Catholic missionaries to the South West Pacific which set out from France in December 1836. The group was destined to found the Catholic Church in Western Oceania and New Zealand. Father Chanel and a Marist catechist Brother Marie-Nizier were placed on the island of Futuna, north of the Fijian Islands, in November 1837 and laboured there for three and a bit years. It was a difficult mission: learning the language, coping with isolation, different foods and customs, eventually beginning to bear some fruit.
On 28th April 1841 Peter Chanel was killed by a group of warriors incited by the leading chief of Futuna, in hatred of the Faith which threatened his control over the people.
Eventually the earthly remains of Peter Chanel were brought to New Zealand and remained at Russell for eight years before being sent to France. Peter Chanel was acknowledged as a martyr and declared Blessed in 1889.
He was canonized in the Marian Year 1954 by Pope Pius XII. St Peter Chanel is recognized as the first martyr of Oceania and the Patron Saint of this region. As a foundation member of the Society of Mary he is acknowledged by the wider Marist family - Marist Brothers of the Schools, Marist Sisters (Peter Chanel had a sister in this congregation), Marist Missionary sisters - all of these religious groups contributing to the development of the Catholic Church in New Zealand.
As a Marist, a missionary, a martyr and a Saint, Peter Chanel is of significance to New Zealand. We celebrate the anniversary of his death as a Church Feast day and the Bi-Centenary of his birth will give further opportunity for Russell, Manukau, Te Rapa, Whakatane, Hamilton Diocese, Hastings, Masterton, Otaki, Motueka, and Green Island (and indeed - all parishes and schools) to celebrate, remember and gain strength by Peter Chanel's intercession as the lives of Peter's spiritual descendants continue.