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Homily from Fr John
Sunday 15th November 2020
Gospel: A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew (25: 14-30)
Homily by Fr John
Living the Best of Your Spirit
Someone gave me a card many years ago that I still have. It says, in simple words: “I dwell in possibility”. It’s saying, even though I face this situation, something can emerge. Our life journey is one of always, on this side of life, limited. We face the limitations of the resources that are around. We face the limitations, sometimes, regularly with the struggles of our personalities. The psychological wounds that we live with is limiting to how much we can cope with, at one stage or another. The limits of the political will of our world – the responses to the pandemic has many limiting stories – not much organisation in some countries and plenty in others. How we keep on hoping to be open to new possibilities for things in the midst of the limitations! As we know so well, our own personal story for making our journey through this year. Wow! How behaviour has been limited – how we have had to say, well I can’t go and just visit that person. I want to. I can’t just get on a plane and I would really like to. It’s been quite a challenging year to face limitation.
When it comes to our parable today, we hear of Jesus facing THE limitation in his life. He tells this parable as he approaches being taken and being crucified. He tells his followers in this parable that they’ll have enough spirit if they keep on trusting in his loving way and he will be with them to face the journey ahead and the limitations of what it’s about on this side of life. He says in the parable that each of the servants, another way of saying disciples and each one of us, is given various numbers of Talents. If we look at the reality, one Talent was equal to fifteen years of wages for the average labourer. So imagine if you got the five Talents, it would be like winning Tattslotto a few times of the heart.You’ll have bounds of spirit. He’s trying to tell them, You face the limitations of your own story as Matthew’s community, which this parable comes from, is facing: It’s all getting a bit contracted and we thought it was going to get a bit easier. They got plenty of challenges as they gathered as a church moving away from the Synagogue. Jesus’ words are so important for them to heal. There is going to be a generosity that comes in the midst of not much around at all.
Just recently in my ministry, I have been visiting one of our dear members of our hostel who has lived such as a limited life of the journey. He came to St Kilda in his teenage years and was diagnosed with severe mental illness. He continued to remain open and desiring of life all the way through his life and he is now approaching death. There is so much of the hearts of people he’s touched along the journey. One of our parishioners who went to God a few years ago, Lola Barnes used to go out with him every Friday for a cuppa. With that generosity of commitment, you could feel the gratitude of his life and wanting to make the best of life even though life wasn’t giving much on the level of breaking out of the limitation. But there was a generosity that emerged in his heart and around him and continues to do that as he’s come now to Sacred Heart to be with us. It’s just an example to me of a person who is living the best of their spirit in the midst of profound limitation.
I have seen that happen so many times. When you think that there is not much at all, it sometimes brings out the best of the call of the heart to face things. I think that’s true of our society to face the most limiting of situation of this pandemic but it’s called forth a extraordinary generosity of commitment to wear these masks, to get from 700 people down to zero cases in Victoria. That’s an extraordinary thing. Lots of other places in the world would be game to imagine. That’s the generosity of the spirit.
Our call is to keeping on recognising that we don’t need five Talents. We only need to recognise that we got the one Talent which is the Spirit of the Risen Christ who wants to dwell in each one of us. Every limitation we face personally, as a church and in society, we can open up new possibilities. Maybe we can’t change the circumstance directly and magically but we can change our way of acceptance. We can change the way more people are supported. We can change our attitude from despair to hope as we be a sign of the Talent together. It’s about developing a real good image of God who is so generous. We hear in the parable that the one who went and buried the talent did not think that God was much at all, was a demanding master who was waiting for him. He could just put the money in the bank, didn’t even do that. Didn’t get much at all. Lost hope. Jesus was saying there would be like the grinding of the teeth, that’s an expression of the heart. You’re going to lose spirit if you don’t live from that generosity. It’s not like you can live part-time love or part-time spirit. God has given us the fullness of the Spirit. We’ve got to keep on trusting that that will emerge and as we face re-emerging as a church, we’re praying for that Spirit. Each one of us is a sign of that, whether viewing from home or gathered here as a community, we will make a sign of hope in the world. It’s not about numbers, it’s about quality of the heart that Jesus gives us.
Michael Leunig has a special prayer about getting in contact with the generosity of the Spirit that’s been buried. He says it starts with listening within each of our hearts, it’s a spirit that can emerge to face the limitations. He says let us pray for wisdom that the recognition we’ve all been given one Talent is enough.
“Let us pause from thinking and empty our mind.
Let us stop the noise.
In the silence, let us listen to our heart.
The heart which has been buried alive.
Let us be still and wait together,
a sound from deep, from below.
A faint cry.
A weak tapping,
distant muffled feelings from within,
a cry for help.
We shall rescue the entombed heart,
we shall bring it to the surface,
to the light, to the air.
We shall nurse it and listen respectfully to its story,
the heart’s story of pain and suffocation,
of darkness and yearning.
We shall help our feelings to live in the sun,
we shall find relief and joy.”
[From: A Common Prayer: A Cartoonist Talks to God.]
So let us continue to find our way as we receive this great parable today. Let us trust that generosity that God has buried the Talent in each one of us and in our world, and together again, we shall find relief and joy.
Notices news and prayers
A reflection on Maria George
Fr John Petrulis
15th October 2020 - Fr John has written of one memory he holds of Maria, a memory that embodies her spirit.
Migrant Refugee Sunday - Stories
Migration stories from parishioners 27th September
Migrant Refugee Sunday 2020 - Kit
Good to Know
Migrant Refugee Kit
Open letter to the premier
From the Catholic Bishops of Victoria 25th September 2020
Season of Creation 2020 week 2
A Global Faith Perspective
Season of Creation 2020
Jubilee for the Earth: new rhythms, new hope is the theme of this year’s Season of Creation
Parish Report August
Our August Parish Report 2020
Praying with Mary Mackillop
Praying to Mary Mackillop for Maria George
How to wear a Mask
Good to Know
Some instructions to wearing a mask
The Mask Prayer
A prayer for the mask
Emergency Food Guide
Good to Know
The Emergency Food Guide released by the City of Port Phillip this morning. This will be valuable for people who are struggling and it’s got a good range of available meal/food assistance and details of access and eligibility.
Good to Know
A letter from our Archbishop 7th May 2020
Laudato Si Week
Attached is some information on Laudato Si Week 16-24 May
The Candle in Isolation
A series of short prayers written by Michael McGirr because of this Easter and Easter Season, “... we could not come to the candle, (so) the candle might come out and meet us where we are.” There are 17 images and prayers, each showing that Jesus is alive among us, wherever we are
The Emmaus Prayer
Good to Know
The Emmaus Prayer by Fr Michael Van Sloun. A lovely prayer to accompany Mass 26th April
Letter From Fr John
A letter to the parish from Fr John Petrulis March 27th 2020
Prayer at this time
Good to Know
A prayer from the English Cathedral of Prayer, during the UK lockdown.
Let this be us
Good to Know
An Inspirational Poem from one of our Parishioners and Member of the PLDT: Fiona Lynch
An Act of Spiritual Communion by St. Alphonsus Liguori
Prayer in a Time of Anxiety
Good to Know
A lovely prayer for our anxiety at this time
Australian Psychology Society
Handy Resources for coping during COVID-19
Isolation during COVID-19
Maintaining your mental health during social isolation
Anxiety & mental health
Coronavirus (COVID-19) anxiety and staying mentally healthy - for older adults
Tips for coping
Tips for coping with coronavirus anxiety
Some handy resources
Both government and Catholic resources that will help during COVID-19
Latest news, information, and changes to gatherings. Also, your questions answered on the response to Coronavirus. Prayers, reflections, and video streaming.
Pray At Home
Catholic Church Resources
Catholics are encouraged to utilise the resources below to support your prayer life and especially to allow you to continue to keep Sunday as a day when prayer is prominent.