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.