Optical retail chain Specsavers has recently launched a new advertisement campaign in Australia. Specsavers is calling this campaign ‘Priceless Eyes’. The nucleus of this campaign is a short film asking real Australians how much they would sell their eyes for.
The short film (4mins) takes regular people off the street and places them in front of a fake medical research clinic, called ‘Vesper-Sacs’. These ‘subjects’ are then asked in quite a convincing manner by a fake medical officer, “How much would you sell your eyes for? $50 million? $80 million each?”
Unsurprisingly this shocks a lot of the participants who think the ‘medical officer’ is fair-dinkum and wants their eyes. A number of the participants cry in response when they are prompted further to name a price. Some responses include, “I’ve got a family... I need to see my kids dance” and “the thought of never seeing my partner’s face again and family...” brings both ladies to tears.
To say many people, take their eyesight for granted is a massive understatement. This attitude appears to be timeless because it’s also at the heart of today’s gospel. Jesus encounters a blind man named Bartimaeus. Despite his physical blindness Bartimaeus has 20/20 clarity when it comes to who Jesus is.
This begs the question, is there anything we aren’t noticing with the eyes of our hearts about ourselves, our families, our communities, our parish, our Church... our world?
In a recent chat with a good priest friend of mine we discussed the colourful preaching of Pope Francis. As odd as it seems, my mate mentioned how often Pope Francis mentions “parrots” in his talks and specifically in his homilies. At the heart of this concept Pope Francis warns that we can (at times) slip into becoming Christian Parrots; whereby we mindlessly just repeat words and gestures without any real thought or reflection. Much like a parrot. Polly want a cracker? Polly want a cracker?
To highlight this point, I thought I would include a couple of snippets from Pope Francis:
At the request of the Archdiocese, I will be celebrating masses in St Joseph’s Parish – Gayndah for the next two weekends. This won’t impact on the regular mass schedule at Birkdale or Manly. St Joseph’s Parish – Gayndah has three weekend masses across its three churches. These churches are St Joseph’s Gayndah, St Patrick’s Eidsvold and St Mary’s Mundubbera. I will be reliving the Parish Priest, Fr Biju who will be on holidays. In speaking to Fr Biju recently, he mentioned that the parish is the smallest and most isolated in the Archdiocese. For instance, St Patrick’s Church Eidsvold is 416kms from Manly.
Sunday mass is vital for Christians; it’s the first day of the week; it’s the day of the Resurrection. In a special way Sunday mass takes on a particularly joyous resonance in the communities I’m travelling to because of their isolation.
The importance of Sunday, the Lord’s day is beautifully captured in a homily by Pope Benedict XVI. The chosen theme - "Without Sunday we cannot live" - takes us back to the year 304, when the Emperor Diocletian forbade Christians, on pain of death, from possessing the Scriptures, from gathering on Sundays to celebrate the Eucharist and from building places in which to hold their assemblies. In Abitene, a small village in present-day Tunisia, 49 Christians were taken by surprise one Sunday while they were celebrating the Eucharist, gathered in the house of Octavius Felix, thereby defying the imperial prohibitions. They were arrested and taken to Carthage to be interrogated by the Proconsul Anulinus. Significant among other things is the answer a certain Emeritus gave to the Proconsul who asked him why on earth they had disobeyed the Emperor's severe orders. He replied: "Sine dominico non possumus": that is, we cannot live without joining together on Sunday to celebrate the Eucharist. We would lack the strength to face our daily problems and not to succumb. (Edited for length: delivered on 29 May 2005)
A reflection on my first one hundred days of being a priest, I’ll start with the suggestion - it’s much more than facing east. I’m not the only one who doesn’t know what I’m supposed to do, some think I work one day a week – at a pinch maybe two.
There has been some marvellous highs and some daunting lows, what difference I’m making - God only knows. The formation was thorough, the formation is never complete, to be brutally honest I still don’t think I’ve landed on my own two feet.
Advice and encourage - in every which way and direction, the learning takes place not in the doing but upon reflection. Pope Francis extols us... “you are to smell like the sheep”, I’ve seen every human emotion and it’s not only they who weep.
The priestly life is to hatch, match and despatch, where that all happens is in the parishes of Manly and Birkdale - that’s our little patch. Clericalism is the buzz word – it’s on the forefront of my mind, if I hear it one more time, I swear I’ll go blind.
The people make the ministry so fruitful and rewarding they honestly do, I look forward to the moment in every Mass when I say, the peace of the Lord be with you!
I count every Baptism and funeral, it’s where God’s grace is airing, It’s not so much the Cross but the empty tomb, that in these moments we are staring. I’ve wanted to be a priest as long as I can remember, I’ve been informed by my bishop that I’ll be moving on come December. One hundred days... “your greatest resource will be your weakness”, It’s God’s grace and my wounds that I draw on when I bless.
Please pray for me as I do for you, may the peace of the Lord be with you too!