“His name is John”. And they were all astonished (Lk 1:63). These are the words of Elizabeth which we hear today as we celebrate the Nativity of John the Baptist. Why were the excited crowd gathered around Elizabeth astonished at the choice of the name John? They were astonished because; “no one in their family has that name” (cf. Lk 1: 61).
The passing on of names is something we know quite well. It marks our identity. Our name is our special word that not only identifies us, but it also joins us to others, just think of our surnames or family names.
It might be a little old fashion to say that our “first” name is our “Christian” name, or our “baptismal” name but that is what it is. The name we were baptised with grafts us onto the Holy name, the name of the Trinity; Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Before we were baptised the priest (or deacon) would have said (insert your name), “I baptise you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”. In this moment we become God’s children and become part of God’s family.
The name “John” is a Hebrew name which means God has been gracious; or God has shown favour. This name now makes a lot more sense for a couple that thought that, in their old age parenthood was beyond them.
This Sunday the Lord speaks to us of the smallest of all the seeds, the mustard seed, and hoz it grows into the biggest tree of all. In Ezekiel, God reminds us of His presence for the small, the humble. In His words "I cut down the tall trees and makethe low trees tall". In all of these parables, Jesus is referring to our faith. Even though it may be small and therefore weak and vulnerable, He can make it grow and yield abundant fruits.
In fact, small is beautiful in the eyes of God. Faith, Jesus says, is like a seed…"sprouting and growing...yet man does not know how it happens. The soil itself makes the plants grow and bear fruit." The soil of course refers to God's grace. Invisible yet so powerfully effective. All we have to do is plant our faith in the heart of Jesus.
Mary MacKillop devoted her life and her sisters Under the care of St Joseph and the Sacred Heart of Jesus. St Mary of the Cross honoured the heart of Jesus in her love for the little ones of Australia, especially the poor. Emulating the justice and gentleness of St Joseph she said "seek first the poorest, most neglected parts of God's vineyard" (1900). She knew, even when times were very tough and her own security as a religious congregation was at riskher faith, planted in the heart of Jesus, would urge her to say "God will provide fof the future" (1877).
True devotion to the Sqcred Heart of Jesus, consists in placing our trust in His mercy and His infinite love. Jesus, through St Margaret Mary Alacoque, who received the visions of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in France in the seventheenth century, evokes in us, confidence in a God who truly answers our needs. The Sacred Heart of Jesus is infinite in charity and boundless in mercy.
So too, in all our little acts of daily forgiveness and small acts of love we are co-operating with grace and silently growing stronger in our faith. People can only come to God, through our small acts of compassion and mercy. in this way our hearts are joined to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and He becomes really present to those in need.
Please continue to pray for Deacon Tom on his journey towards his Ordination.
God love you,
As I write this short piece I’m preparing to travel down to the Shrine of Our Lady Help of Christians, located at Marian Valley in the Gold Coast hinterlands. The reason for my trip is to serve as a deacon at the ordination mass of Br Joseph Maria Buckley OSSPE on 9 June 2018. Br Joseph is from Brisbane and a member of the Order of St. Paul the First Hermit. The main apostolate of this religious order, known as the Pauline Fathers, is to spread devotion to Our Lady. The Pauline’s are a semi-contemplative order that arrived in Australia in 1982 and have two shrines devoted to Mary; The Shrine of Our Lady of Mercy (Penrose Park, NSW) and the shrine located at Marian Valley.
As I prepare for this great occasion I can’t help but think about my approaching ordination to the presbyterate. I also can’t help but prayerfully contemplate all the blessings I’ve received during my own diaconate spent in this great Parish. If you’re reading this newsletter you have had a role in my formation and journey to the priesthood and I thank God for your presence in my life.
This is indeed exciting news and confirmation that the Holy Spirit is stirring up priestly vocations in the Archdiocese of Brisbane. In the month of June this local church will have three new priests! Please pray for the newly ordained Fr Joseph Maria Buckley and all the Pauline Fathers at Marian Valley.
I also ask you for your prayers as I embark on my week-long preordination retreat starting this Sunday.
This Sunday we celebrate the Solemnity of Corpus Christi (Body of Christ). In today’s gospel we hear something that would have sounded quite strange, even to Jesus’ earliest followers. And as they were eating he took some bread, and when he had said the blessing he broke it and gave it to them. “Take it”, he said “this is my body”. Then he took a cup, and when he had returned thanks he gave it to them, and all drank from it, he said to them. “This is my blood, the blood of the covenant, which is to be poured out for many.” (Mk 14:22-24)
Some of us might ask, why did Jesus make the sacrament of communion with him a meal? All of us hunger. All of us thirst. It is a part of what makes us human. All of us too, experience a hunger and a thirst that goes far beyond the physical reality. We hunger for friendship, we thirst to belong, we hunger for love, we thirst for forgiveness.
The Body and Blood of Jesus Christ satisfies the hungry heart, it is food for the soul. It is the spiritual food and drink from heaven that satisfies our deepest spiritual desires and brings us into union with each other, common- union and with Jesus Christ.
“Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in them, says the Lord” (Jn 6:57)