Last Sunday’s Gospel was a reading from Luke. It was a reading that many of us are familiar with where Jesus tells his apostles, “Pray for people who harm you. Do not strike back when people slap you, but offer them the other cheek.” This was a very radical idea in the times of when the Gospels were written as most of their laws and beliefs were based around the principle of reciprocity. In essence, when you were wronged, you had the right to return a wrong to the other person. One could mount an argument that this...
Last Sunday’s Gospel was a reading from Luke. It was a reading that many of us are familiar with where Jesus tells his apostles, “Pray for people who harm you. Do not strike back when people slap you, but offer them the other cheek.” This was a very radical idea in the times of when the Gospels were written as most of their laws and beliefs were based around the principle of reciprocity. In essence, when you were wronged, you had the right to return a wrong to the other person. One could mount an argument that this principle is still alive and well in the eyes of some even today. One significant difference is that there are many more ways to wrong another now compared to then.
As Catholics, Jesus is asking much of us. We are being asked to swallow our egos and accept what has happened to us. We can use “turning the other cheek” as a metaphor for forgiveness. Forgiving another allows each of us to move on from a situation. Retaliating, often, usually makes the situation much worse. The question that needs to be considered is… why do we feel that we need to retaliate? Whilst it may make some people feel better, this is often not the case and it certainly does not make things the way they were before. Forgiveness does not mean that we are not hurt or wronged, but simply choosing not to respond in a negative way.
Perhaps, turning the other cheek, might also call us to find a reason why another wanted to wrong us in the first place. It is much easier to try and address the root of a problem rather than the symptoms. In this way we are bringing and modelling goodness in place of evil. Our current news is often filled with global instances of violence when countries attack and retaliate against each other. One wonders what the world would be like if one party decided to stop fighting, lose their ego, and give up something of importance to them to be able to seek a peaceful resolution rather than defend the “might is right” argument. This is what Luke may have meant when he spoke about each of us trying to be in the likeness of God.
In his visit to Rome, our own Archbishop Mark Coleridge, delivered the homily at the final Mass of the Vatican Summit on the Protection of Minors. He referred to this Gospel and spoke the following words:
In abuse and its concealment, the powerful show themselves not men of heaven but men of earth, in the words of St Paul we have heard. In the Gospel, the Lord commands: “Love your enemies”. But who is the enemy? Surely not those who have challenged the Church to see abuse and its concealment for what they really are, above all the victims and survivors who have led us to the painful truth by telling their stories with such courage.
At times, however, we have seen victims and survivors as the enemy, but we have not loved them, we have not blessed them. In that sense, we have been our own worst enemy. The Lord urges us to “be merciful as your Father is merciful”. Yet, for all that we desire a truly safe Church and for all that we have done to ensure it, we have not always chosen the mercy of the man of heaven. We have, at times, preferred instead the indifference of the man of earth and the desire to protect the Church’s reputation and even our own. We have shown too little mercy, and therefore we will receive the same, because the measure we give will be the measure we receive in return. We will not go unpunished, as David says, and we have already known punishment. The man of earth must die so that the man of heaven can be born; the old Adam must give way to the new Adam. This will require a true conversion, without which we will remain on the level of “mere administration” – as the Holy Father writes in Evangelii Gaudium – “mere administration” which leaves untouched the heart of the abuse crisis (25).
This conversion alone will enable us to see that the wounds of those who have been abused are our wounds, that their fate is our fate, that they are not our enemies but bone of our bones, flesh of our flesh (cf Gen 2:23). They are us, and we are them. This conversion is in fact a Copernican revolution. Copernicus proved that the sun does not revolve around the earth but the earth around the sun. For us, the Copernican revolution is the discovery that those who have been abused do not revolve around the Church but the Church around them. In discovering this, we can begin to see with their eyes and to hear with their ears; and once we do that, the world and the Church begin to look very different.
This is the necessary conversion, the true revolution and the great grace which can open for the Church a new season of mission. Lord, when did we see you abused and did not come to help you? But he will reply: In truth I say to you, as often as you failed to do this to one of these the least of my brothers and sisters, you failed to do it to me (cf Matt 25:44-45).
Since the Royal Commission into the abuse of Young People, our Church has been called to respond to injustices from within. Each of us need to keep the victims of such injustices in our thoughts and prayers as they endeavour to move forward with their lives. These are strong words from Archbishop Coleridge and a call for action for our Church moving into the future.
Last Friday night I enjoyed watching both our AFL teams compete against St Edmund’s College. All our games this year for AFL are played at the Sandgate Hawks AFL Club. It is great that we can play at a local ground. However, some of our young men have forgotten that these games are still school games and a part of the AIC competition and having been arriving out of their school uniforms. In some instances, young men have been reminded on more than one occasion. If your son is planning to attend a game at the grounds, please ensure that he is in his correct uniform so that we do not have to turn him away.
During Tuesday’s Assembly, we presented a cheque for $5,000 to SANDBAG. They are a local community-based centre that offers many opportunities to families within the Shorncliffe and Sandgate area. Mrs Maggie Daunt, Chief Executive Officer, accepted our donation and spoke to our young men about how they would spend the money. They plan to use it to resource their Certificate programs for people to support their training and employability. We will continue to support this group throughout the year and hopefully will be able to assist them with further donations this year.
Thank you to all families who supported us to raise money to assist the families at Ignatius Park who were adversely affected by the recent floods in Townsville. We were able to assist with a donation of $5,000 as well as donate 100 laptops. Their community was very appreciative of our assistance.
Last week we had a successful weekend of sport against St Edmund’s College, Ipswich. This weekend we play Iona College tonight at Sandgate Hawks Football Club in AFL. Tomorrow, our junior Cricket and Volleyball teams play at home against Iona and our senior teams play at Iona College in Wynnum.
On Thursday evening, I attended a meeting with other AIC Principals and Directors of Sport with Queensland Rugby at Ballymore. We discussed the new safe Rugby framework and the implementation concerns and timelines. The new ARU measures have been well-planned, but will take a little while before they are implemented across all competitions within Brisbane. All parties concerned are endeavouring to make Rugby a very fast, entertaining and safe game. More information will be released about this during the year.
I hope that everyone enjoys their weekend and I hope to catch up with some of you at sport.
Live Jesus in our Hearts!