On this weekend we hear a thought- provoking parable about the Kingdom of God. Through this Jesus teaches us how the kingdom of God is open to all, that our God is a generous God who desires to save all people, all nations. In the Gospel we hear of a landowner who is very different from how we think. Probably most of us naturally sympathize with the first group of workers. Our reaction generally is that those who have done more, who have given more, should get more. That is simple justice.
But the story tells the difference between God's perspective and ours. In other words, God's perspective is that of the owner, who gave some of the labourers more than what it seemed they earned. What this means is that we have to look at this story from a very different point of view. We notice what God’s justice is like. It is clearly stated in the First reading from the prophet Isaiah. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9). Another name for God’s justice is mercy and compassion. God wants all to be saved. God is generous in opening the doors of His kingdom to all who choose to enter, both those who have laboured a life-time for Him and those who come at the last hour.
So, rather than judging God for acting this way, we should be deeply grateful that our God is ready to receive us back at any stage once we express sorrow for our sins and wish to be reunited or united with Him in love. It teaches us that nothing God gives to us is our due. We have no right at all to receive the reward except by the mercy of God. Everything He gives us is pure gift from His abundant generosity and we cannot possibly earn it or deserve it. We should not be envious or jealous because God is generous to someone else. We labour for the Lord to give Him back a little through our praise, honour, and glory. And we labour for our neighbour for their welfare with the same spirit of loving-kindness and compassion which the Lord has shown to us.
Let us rejoice that eternal life with God is offered to all people, including the people whom we may find this difficult to accept. Let us persevere to change our thoughts and ways and see with God’s compassionate eyes. This parable is an invitation to experience the mind of God - to practice love and compassion without the narrow mindedness of thinking in terms of our pathetic understanding of justice.
Fr. Dantus Thottathil.
Once two brothers, who lived in large acreage farms, had a falling out. It was the first serious rift in 40 years of farming side by side, sharing machinery, and trading labour and goods as needed without any problems. Then the long enjoyed harmony fell apart. It began with a small misunderstanding and it grew into a major difference, and finally it exploded into an exchange of bitter words followed by weeks of silence. One morning there was a knock on elder brother’s door. He opened it to find a man with a carpenter’s tool box. “I’m looking for a few days’ work” he said. “Perhaps you would have a few small jobs here and there I could help with? Could I help you?” “Yes,” said the older brother. “I do have a job for you.” “Look across the creek at that farm. That’s my neighbour; in fact, it’s my younger brother. Last week there was a field between us and he took his bulldozer to the river level and now there is a creek between us. Well, he may have done this to spite me, but I’ll do him one better. I want you to build me a fence so I won’t need to see his place or his face anymore.” The carpenter said, “I think I understand the situation and I’ll be able to do a job that pleases you.” The older brother had to go to town, so he helped the carpenter get the materials ready and then he was off for the day. The carpenter worked hard all that day measuring, sawing, nailing. About sunset when the farmer returned, the carpenter had just finished his job. The older brother’s eyes opened wide. There was no fence there at all. It was a bridge, a bridge stretching from one side of the creek to the other! A fine piece of work, handrails and all and the neighbour, his younger brother was coming toward them, his hand outstretched. “You are quite a fellow to build this bridge after all I’ve said and done. ”The two brothers stood at each end of the bridge, and then they met in the middle, taking each other’s hand. They turned to see the carpenter and said stay a few days I have a lot of other projects for you,” said the older brother. “I’d love to stay on,” the carpenter said, but I have many more bridges to build.
Forgiving in the full Christian sense is a form of loving and caring. Today we are told to forgive others and our forgiveness should not be just once or twice, but seventy times seven. This means that it is an ongoing decision day after day, week after week, year after year, without counting the cost. When we do not forgive someone, it is because we are passing judgment on that person. Jesus commanded us not to judge others so that we will not be judged. Let us remember St. Francis of Assisi’s prayer: “It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.” Our failure to offer pardon means that we have forgotten God’s goodness or have not fully appreciated the unconditional forgiveness we have received from Him.
Fr. Dantus Thottathil.
Our parish is supporting the Annual Catholic Campaign this year because we know how hard it has been for many in our community. Though prayer and action, we can be a blessing to those in real need. If you are able, and would like to make a donation, you can do so online at: https://bit.ly/3aQKUXN
Thank you again for your support, and if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
This weekend’s Gospel deals with our relationship to each other and highlights one of the tricky responsibilities that we have towards others, namely fraternal correction. I remember reading this story somewhere, in a little church in a small village, an altar boy serving the priest at Sunday Mass accidentally dropped the cruet of wine. The priest was not happy and shouted, leave the altar and don't come back. That boy became Marshall Tito, the Communist leader. In the cathedral of a large city in another place, another altar boy serving the bishop at Sunday Mass also accidentally dropped the cruet of wine. With a warm twinkle in his eyes, the bishop gently whispered, "Someday you will be a priest." Do you know who that boy was? Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen. How do we deal with others who have caused problems for us? Jesus has the answer in today’s Gospel: with straight talk, due process, but most of all, with grace and humility.
As Christians we are responsible and to a certainly extent accountable for the welfare of those under our care, be it children, parents, elders, or even friends. In each occupation, there is a responsibility and full accountability is required of the individuals. As Christians we are not individuals but members of the Body of Christ that is the Church. The readings of today tell us of God’s command of spiritual responsibility and accountability that each one of us have towards our neighbours. It speaks of our opportunity towards our brothers and sisters in Christ who live in error. They challenge us to care for our brothers and sisters and protect them in their physical and spiritual needs. This week, let us take some time to reflect on our responsibility towards God. Let us reflect on how we will account to God for the actions of those around us, be it our parents, our brothers or sisters, our children, our relatives, our neighbours and all of those whose life we touch.
Fr. Dantus Thottathil.
Each of us has some problems, worry, concern and cross to bear. At times the cross may be rather insignificant; for others, the cross seems to have unbearable weight. When we face these worries, problems, fears ... these crosses, we often find our faith challenged and perhaps hope fades. But it is precisely at these times that our faith teaches us that God holds us in the palm of His hands and that life is not a game of chance.
One morning, a wealthy man sat on his balcony enjoying sunshine and his coffee, when he noticed a little ant which was going from one side to the other side of the balcony carrying a big leaf several times more than its size. The man watched it for more than an hour. He saw that the ant faced many obstacles during its journey, paused, took a diversion and then continued towards its so destination.
At one point the tiny creature came across a crack in the floor. It paused for a little while, analysed and then laid the huge leaf over the crack, walked over the leaf, picked the leaf on the other side then continued its journey.
The man was captivated by the cleverness of the ant, one of God’s tiniest creatures. The incident left him in awe and lead him to contemplate the miracle of creation. It showed the greatness of the creator. In front of his eyes there was this tiny creature of God, lacking in size yet equipped with the ability to analyse, contemplate, reason, explore, discover and overcome.
About an hour later, the man saw that the creature had reached its destination, a tiny hole in the floor which was the entrance to its underground dwelling. And it was at this point that the ant’s shortcoming was revealed. How could it carry into the tiny hole the large leaf that it had managed to carefully bring to the destination? It simply couldn't!
So the tiny ant, after all the painstaking and hard work and exercising great skills, overcoming all the difficulties along the way, just left behind the large leaf and went home empty-handed.
The ant had not thought about the end before it began its challenging journey and in the end the large leaf was nothing more than a burden to it. The ant had no option, but to leave it behind to reach its destination. The man learned a great lesson that day.
Isn't that the truth about our lives?
We worry about our family, our job, how to earn more money, and where we should live, what kind of vehicle to buy, clothes to wear, all sorts of unimportant things, only to abandon all these when we reach our destination – the grave.
We don’t realize in our earthly journey that these are just burdens that we carry with utmost care and fear of losing them, only to find that at the end they are useless and we can’t take them with us....
If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me. For anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it. What, then, will a man gain if he wins the whole world and ruins his life? Or what has a man to offer in exchange for his life? (Mt 16: 25-26).
Fr. Dantus Thottathil.
There is a beautiful story about a pencil. Just before putting it into the box, the pencil maker took the pencil aside. There are five things you need to know, he told it, before I send you out into the world. Always remember them and never forget, and you will become the best pencil you can be.
Let us accept Jesus as our Lord and personal saviour. Jesus is not merely the founder of a new religion, or a revolutionary Jewish reformer, or one of the great teachers. For us, He is the Son of God and our personal Saviour. This means that we see Jesus as the Good Shepherd, the Saviour, and the Redeemer. He is our beloved friend, closer to us than our dear ones. He is a living experience, who walks with us, loves us, forms us, helps us and transforms our lives and outlook. The joy, love and peace that we find in Jesus is reflected in the way we live our lives.
The knowledge of Jesus as Lord and personal Saviour is a living, personal experience for each Christian. This is made possible by our listening to Jesus through the daily, meditative reading of the Bible, by talking with Jesus through daily, personal and communal prayers, by our offering our lives on the altar with Jesus whenever we attend Holy Mass and by our leading a sacramental life as a means of forgiveness and reconciliation. The next step is the surrender of our lives to Jesus by rendering humble and loving service to others with the strong conviction that Jesus is present in every person. The step after that is to praise and thank God in all circumstances, both good and bad, realizing that God’s loving hands are with us in every situation.
Congratulations on receiving the sacrament of confirmation...
Congratulations to all our 38 children on receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation on 20th August by Auxiliary Bishop Kenneth Howell. Our thoughts and prayers are with all candidates of our parish family. In particular, thanks to all our sacramental team and teachers for your great work in preparing the children for this significant step in their faith journey. I thank the parents and sponsors for their dedication in preparing the children for this blessed event. Your efforts are much appreciated by the whole community of Birkdale Catholic Parish.
Fr. Dantus Thottathil.
A business man was late for his flight. He reached the boarding gate just before it closed. Sweating and out of breath, he scanned his boarding pass at the counter and quickly made his way to the plane. Arriving at his seat, he greeted his companions including a little girl at the window side. After the flight took off, he began a conversation with the little girl. The little girl appeared to be about the same age as his daughter and was busy with her colouring book. He asked her a few of the usual questions, and he found it strange that such a young girl would be traveling alone.
About an hour into the flight, the plane suddenly began experiencing extreme turbulence. The pilot announced
that everyone should fasten their seat belts and remain calm, as they had encountered rough weather. Some
people began crying and the man was sweating and clenching his seat as tightly as he could, and exclaim Oh my
God! with each increasingly violent shake of the plane. Meanwhile, the little girl was sitting quietly beside him in
her seat. Incredibly, she didn't seem worried at all.
The pilot came on a few minutes later to apologize for the uncomfortable ride and to announce that they would be
landing soon. As the plane began its descent, the man said to the little girl, “You are just a little girl, but I have
never met a braver person in all my life! Tell me, dear, how is it that you remained so calm while all of us adults
were so afraid?” Looking him in the eye, she said, “My father is the Pilot, and he is taking me home."
Let us approach Jesus with the same strong faith in His ability and availability to calm the storms in our life. It is
the presence of Jesus which gives us peace even in the worst situations: times of sorrow, doubt, tension and
uncertainty, when we are overwhelmed with anxiety and dread, filled with anger and despair, or struggling with
temptations. Storms reveal to us our weakness, or inability to save ourselves and lead us to rely on the infinite
ability of God to rescue us. When we take notice of Jesus in our turbulent times, we find that we gain strength to
do the seemingly impossible.
St. Mary MacKillop whose feast is on 8th August, had this most extraordinary trust in the providence of God. The
deep relationship that St Mary of the Cross had with Jesus Christ led her to face her many situations of heartache
and disappointment with an amazing attitude of hope and perseverance. Her faith did not only encourage her to
face whatever needed to be faced but also to overcome the difficulties.
Our 25th anniversary of the parish in 2020 will be well remembered as the year when, as a result of the COVID-
19 corona virus, our churches were closed for a significant period of time and we learnt new ways to connect with
each other and to nourish and grow our faith and our relationship with our loving God. Thank you, all dear
parishioners, for your support and love towards our parish family. Happy feast day to all ......
Following on from the Newsletter note a couple of weeks ago, this week we convened the first Working Group
meeting to consider the proposal for the closer collaboration between the Birkdale and Alexandra Hills Capalaba
parishes. The meeting was an open and frank conversation with robust discussion on the topic. The outcome of
the meeting is that we need to gather more information and ensure that we are considering the best option, so
that we might deliver a considered recommendation for the right way to move forward in the region. Overall, it
was a very positive session with a lot of talking and a lot of listening.
The next Working Group meeting will be in three weeks’ time. Feel free to engage with our parish representatives
(Chris Mahoney and Steve Kemp) if you would like to know more.
Fr. Dantus Thottathil.
Today we find Jesus and His disciples faced with a hungry crowd and little or no means of feeding them. In this situation of need, people reacted in different ways. Philip made a rather practical calculation: on the basis of the number of people and the amount of money available to buy food, and decided that nothing could be done. Andrew recognized that one of the crowd had a small amount of food but he dismissed this small resource as of no value. There were two other reactions in the story. There is the response of the small boy who willingly handed over the few pieces of food that he had. This is the action of the generous person, prepared to share all he or she has, even though it appears far less than what is needed. He gave all he could. Then there is the response of Jesus himself. He took the small resources the young boy was generous enough to share and, having prayed the prayer of thanksgiving to God over this food, he somehow fed the enormous crowd. The gospel teaches us that if we give generously to others from our resources, the Lord will work powerfully through our gift, small as it may seem to us.
We too are called to compassion - to allow our heart to be moved with pity for others, and share our resources to help those with their physical and spiritual needs. Think of the need that people all around us have for a personal encounter with the mercy and forgiveness of Jesus Christ, opening the way for them to have a place at the table of the Eucharistic banquet of the Lord. That is the meaning of the Eucharist we celebrate here today, namely, that as Christians we commit ourselves to share, to work with God in communicating His compassion to all. God is omnipotent but, much of the time, He needs our co-operation to show people just how caring He really is.
Fr. Dantus Thottathil.
There is a story from the Desert Fathers about a young monk who asked one of the old monks why it was that so many people came out to the desert to seek God and yet most of them gave up after a short time and returned to their lives in the city. The old monk told him, "Last evening my dog saw a rabbit running for cover among the bushes of the desert and he began to chase the rabbit, barking loudly. Soon other dogs joined in the chase, barking and running. They ran a great distance and alerted many other dogs. Soon the wilderness was echoing the sounds of their pursuit but the chase went on into the night. After a little while, many of the dogs grew tired and dropped out. A few chased the rabbit until the night was nearly spent. By morning, only my dog continued the hunt. "Do you understand what I have told you?" the old man said. “No,” replied the young monk. "It is simple," said the old monk, "my dog saw the rabbit."
In this weekend’s Gospel Jesus tells a parable about a man who, one day in the market place, saw the pearl of great price. The merchant understood at once the value of the commodity before him and he sacrificed everything to obtain it. For much of the time, we are searching for false treasures, mainly money, status and pleasure. For much of the time we are locked into a past full of nostalgia or regrets, or focused on future desires, fears or anxieties. Meanwhile the present passes us by and the treasure is still not discovered and the really valuable pearl is never found. Jesus wants us to know that the Kingdom of God is worth sacrificing all we have. He offers us God's Kingdom, a unique pearl of the greatest price. The “treasures” and “pearls” of everlasting value are the things of God. In order to attain such treasure, we must set aside our own interests, ambitions and agendas and thus free ourselves to embrace the lasting values of compassion, love and mercy of God which reconciles us to Himself. This parable also reminds us that the most precious things in life are to know God and to live according to the Gospel.
What the parables really teach us is that, when one discovers Jesus and His vision of life, everything else becomes secondary. That is what St. Paul meant when he said: "I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse, in order that I may gain Christ" (Phil 3:8), and again "For me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain" (Phil 2:21). To have a personal experience of Christ and personal relationship with Him – in other words, to have made Christ’s view of life our own – is the most precious thing in the world.
Fr. Dantus Thottathil.
There is a story called, “Two Wolves.” It goes like this: A grandfather is teaching his grandson about life. A fight is
going on inside me, he said to the boy. It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil - he is anger,
envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and
ego. He continued, the other is good - he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence,
empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you - and inside every other
person, too. The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, which wolf will win? The
grandfather simply replied, the one you feed. Today’s Gospel parable reminds us that we are a mixture of good
and evil and, hence, instead of judging others we are called to try to lead exemplary Christian lives and leave the
judgment to God.
Each one of us is a combination of wheat and weeds. In us there are elements of good and elements that are
deeply opposed to it. St. Paul recognised that struggle within himself. So we need to learn how to be tolerant and
accepting of our own weaknesses. God told Paul that it was precisely through his weaknesses that He could reveal His glory. “My power is made perfect in weakness”. Just as nature teaches us patience, so God's patience also teaches us to guard the seed of His word which He has planted in our hearts and to beware of the destructive force of sin and evil that can destroy it. God's word brings life, but Satan seeks to destroy the good seed which has been planted in the hearts of those who have heard God's word. God's judgment is not hasty, but it does come. And in the end, God will reward each according to what they have sown and reaped in this life. On that day God will separate the evil from the good. Do you allow God's word to take deep root in your heart? Do you allow the love of Christ to rule in your heart and in your actions?
Fr. Dantus Thottathil.