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Bible Study – Mon 29 Mar

Bible Study – Mon 29 Mar

The combined Parishes of St Peter’s and St James are hosting a Bible Study Ministry.  This year, the meetings will be held at St James at the Ray Centre.

Meetings will be held every 1st, 3rd & 5th Mondays of each month, 7pm-9pm. Next meeting this Mon 29 Mar on the Gospel of John. For more information contact Clive on 0490 814 452 or Francis on 0401 787 372.

 

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The combined Parishes of St Peter’s and St James are hosting a Bible Study Ministry.  This year, the meetings will be held at St James at the Ray Centre.

Meetings will be held every 1st, 3rd & 5th Mondays of each month, 7pm-9pm. Next meeting this Mon 15 Mar on the Gospel of John. For more information contact Clive on 0490 814 452 or Francis on 0401 787 372.

 

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Australia Day Reflection

As one nation this past week we were invited to stop and celebrate Australia Day, we did this as we acknowledged the different sentiments that this celebration evokes. Life in the nation is not static and we grow and mature in the understanding of who we are and where we come from. This year we recognise that symbolically we have made another big step forward; in our national anthem we now acknowledge that we are an ‘old’ nation as we celebrate the longest living culture on earth, and although we now sing that we are ‘one and free,’ like the kingdom of God, that ‘oneness’ is something we need to work at together to achieve.

The readings chosen for our liturgical celebration of Australia Day reminded us that we are ‘the land of the Holy Spirit.’ The prophet Isaiah reminds us that God sends his Spirit upon us, as a nation, and, if we allow the Spirit to work, the Spirit will change our dry and arid landscape into lush and fertile raintree forests. The Holy Spirit is a Spirit of love and unity and when we allow the Spirit to live in our midst, it will burn away all our divisions and allow for new growth.

Paul speaks of the different gifts the Spirit showers on us, his people. Paul lists some of these gifts of the Spirit, yet the Spirit of God is certainly not limited by Paul’s list and continues to come up with newer gifts that help us come together as one family, one people. Paul insists that although the gifts look different in each of us, they are the fruit of the one Spirit. We come as one nation, first peoples and recent arrivals, together we celebrate the gifts we have been given. We celebrate and thank God for these old and new gifts. Together they make us one nation.

The gospel reading speaks of the attitude we need in order to be able to welcome one another and grow as one people. We are the ones who need to approach our ‘Great South Land’ with a spirit of poverty so that we can accept and acknowledge all that we have been given. We need to have a hunger and thirst for justice and mercy as we grieve the great mistakes of the past. We need to have a purity of heart and a resolve to look for peace so that we can welcome each other, regardless of faith or culture, and together grow into one nation in the Spirit.

Fr Mario Zammit mssp

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RCIA Journey Reflection – Morteza Babaei

Morteza Babaei, along with Anna Vo, Alize Zhang, Nancy Chohan and Ronald Main, completed their RCIA Journey finally on Sun 06 Dec after delays brought about by Covid.  Morteza writes:

This journey towards Catholicism has been full of waiting. Impacted by the threats and restrictions of COVID-19, I felt tested during those long months. However, through His love, and the gentle reminders of our RCIA team, I have learnt the value of being kind to one another, to have concern for my fellow neighbour and most importantly, to be patient, humble, and have faith.
During the months and weeks leading up to my Confirmation, God never left my side. I’ve had my Visa approved, my partner and I got engaged, and my sister received her heart transplant that she needed urgently and woke up within record time. Directly after that, Victoria received the news that we were free of Covid and would have our restrictions eased.

God is with me. God is with US.

I didn’t expect much going into RCIA as I came to St James Parish as a Muslim turned Christian Protestant, having sat through hours of bible study already. However, RCIA and our Parish have helped me too much in my life. My faith is stronger. I have a deeper understanding of God’s love, as well as a deeper and closer relationship with God than I ever have before.
I am happy, and I am in the right place to Adore and Worship.

I am grateful to each and every person that makes up RCIA, Fr Jude, Fr Silvio, the Parish team, our wider community, and our sponsors, especially my sponsor, Johnny Lapiña, and fiancée, Jessica Lapiña. On behalf of my fellow Catechumens and Candidates (Anna Vo, Alice Zhang, Nancy Chohan and Ronald Main), and myself, thank you everyone, for being kind, patient, and for always allowing us to feel welcome and at home in our Christian community at St James Parish. God Bless and Merry Christmas.

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Mary’s “Yes” to God

With the Gospel of the Annunciation to Mary, we arrive today at the events leading directly to the celebration of Jesus’ birth.

Following a greeting and word of reassurance, the angel Gabriel tells Mary that she is to be the mother of a child, whose title (‘Son of the Most High’) and future role indicate that he will be the long-awaited Messiah.

Mary, understandably, asks how this birth is to occur. She is married but, in accordance with the custom of the time where women married very young, is still living in her parental home and not yet having relations with her husband.

The angel’s majestic explanation lifts everything to a new level. The birth will not come about through relations with her husband but through her being “overshadowed” by the power of God’s Holy Spirit. The child to be born from her will be God’s ‘Son’ in a unique way. He will have a divine status far outstripping conventional expectation concerning the Messiah.

The explanation requires of Mary faith in the highest degree. Unlike Zechariah in connection with the birth of John the Baptist (Luke 1:11-19), she does not simply have to believe that God will overcome barrenness and old age. She has to believe that God’s power will take the place of the male parent entirely. Later, her cousin Elizabeth will say to her, “Blessed is she who believed the the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled” (1:45). Mary’s faith is the channel for God’s presence and power to enter the world in the mystery of the Incarnation.

Fr Brendan Byrne SJ

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The YP event of Lettuce Spring into Action really sprang my COVID restricted mind into action! Such was the intensity of the event. For the first time I came to know that egg shells could be used as calcium supplements for the vegetable plants! I learnt more about sustainability which could be carried out by recycling all fruit peels such as banana peels and paper, egg trays & cardboard into compost for our own garden! My imagination ran wild, if I could recycle all of these, perhaps I would require the Blue bin only once a month! And if most of us use these simple daily life activities, how much waste will we reduce in our council, state, nation & in the world! This fits perfectly to the call of Pope Francis to care about our environment by adopting sustainability!

Anna Sia and her family is truly a blessing not only to our parish but to the wider society! As Christians we have been asked to share and Anna is the perfect example of sharing her great knowledge about home growing veg garden! Fr. Silvio’s demonstration to make our own planter box from pallet wood perhaps will turn for me as a hobby soon! On my way out I collected many saplings to try my luck into homegrown vegies! I hope more such events are held to benefit more parishioners!

Gilbert

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Advent – Season of Preparation

Dear parishioners, visitors and friends,

The Church liturgical year does not run from January to December, as our civil year does, but starts with the first Sunday of Advent next weekend, four Sundays before Christmas.
In many ways the Church year is an image of our life; we start by celebrating the birth of the God-child and we conclude with a reflection about death and the end of times, as we have just done in the past few weeks.

Every birth is preceded by a time of waiting. Every family waits and prepares for the birth of a new child. Within the People of God, the Old Testament is a record of the people’s wait for the birth of the Messiah promised by God in the book of Genesis. As we celebrate our own journey through life, we too live in expectation of the moment when we too have to meet the Christ, our God.

Each year the four Sundays of Advent remind us of this time of waiting and for our own need to be alert and wait. The Gospel in next Sunday’s Mass tells us of the need to ‘stay awake.’ The image Jesus uses is that of the householder who goes abroad but expects his door keeper to stay awake to be ready to welcome him on his return.

This year has often felt like a dark, long winter – one that at times has left people feeling flat, fearful and isolated. What a blessing it has been in these last few weeks, for the state of Victoria to move towards a COVID-normal situation, with glimpses of hope as our communities slowly but gradually re-emerge from months of lockdown.

This year’s Christmas celebrations in our parishes and homes will look and feel markedly different. Despite this, the invitation from our Lord remains: he invites us to share in the life of faith and to trust in him, in times of uncertainty.

While this has been a tumultuous year, it has also been an opportunity for parishes to reach out in new and innovative ways. Thank you to all in our parish for the courage, innovation and perseverance that you have shown this year leading our people into new ways of praying, reflecting, meeting and working together.

As we conclude our liturgical year, and prepare to welcome Advent next week, may we all continue to support and help each other in our role as missionary disciples.

Fr Jude Pirotta

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STANDING BEFORE THE LORD NOW

The Gospel to conclude the Church’s year appropriately evokes the great judgment instituted by the Shepherd-King at the end of time. The Christian tradition, especially in art (Michelangelo’s painting in the Sistine Chapel) and music (Dies Irae), has often depicted the scene in terrifying literalness.

We may not today feel bound to such a literal understanding of imagery and motifs taken from the apocalyptic Jewish worldview of Jesus’ day. But we have to recognize that what the Gospel wishes to communicate with great seriousness is that the final outcome of one’s existence is irreversibly determined by the attitude and action one adopts in regard to fellow human beings here and now.

Nothing is said about correctness of faith, or the need to be free from, or to have obtained forgiveness for, all kinds of sin. The sole determinant is whether one has acted with care and compassion for people in various situations of need. Here the “greatest commandment of the law”—the twin love of God and of one’s neighbour (22:36-40)—and the sense of Jesus as “Emmanuel” (“God with us” [1:23]) receives its most radical extension. The one who sits upon the throne as Judge, has so identified with even “the least” of his “brothers and sisters” that effective compassion shown or not shown to them has been shown or not shown to him.

There is no need to wait for the Son of Man to come in judgment; every time one encounters a fellow human being in need one already stands before the Judge and King.

Fr Brendan Byrne SJ

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Risk Taking for God

As we approach the end of the Church’s liturgical year, the focus remains upon the second coming of the Lord. Once again, the Gospel provides a parable (the Talents) instructing us how to live in view of that expectation.

The master in the parable is pleased with the enterprising first two servants. Having realised substantial gains on the amounts entrusted to them, they are welcomed “into the joy of their master”—that is, into the banquet of the Kingdom.

But the third servant, who simply hid his single talent in the ground, displeased his master because he didn’t do what was expected, namely, trade with the money so that it would increase. He didn’t even put the sum in the bank, where it would have at least accrued some interest. Paralysed by a fearful image that he has of his master (an image of God that the parable does not endorse but actually refutes), he sought security in giving back, in strict justice, the exact sum entrusted to him. This, however, was not what the master wanted. Hence the severe penalty.

The parable challenges believers not to rest content simply with not doing anything wrong so that God will not be able to find anything to punish. Such an attitude mistakes the nature of God and neglects what God really wants, which is an enterprising, even risk-taking, practice of the “weightier matters of the law”: “justice, mercy and faith” (23:23). The gifts God has entrusted to us, like our minds and limbs, need active exercise if they are not to atrophy and wither.

Fr Brendan Byrne SJ

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Be Prepared

The parable of the Wise and Foolish Bridesmaids addresses the situation of the Church as it awaits the return of its Lord (the “Bridegroom”). The time of waiting has become very long indeed but the Church still proclaims: “Christ will come again”, and lives in that hope and in the sense of accountability that accompanies it. The key thing is to use the time of waiting profitably, so as not to be caught out when the Bridegroom arrives, whether that be at the moment of death or end of time.

The five wise and five foolish bridesmaids depict two possibilities for believers. The oil needed for their lamps represents the good deeds that Jesus commends in this gospel, especially the works of mercy that feature so prominently in the parable of the Great Judgement (Matt 25:41-56). The five wise bridesmaids will meet the Bridegroom with their lamps blazing with this “oil”. The five foolish, on the other hand, represent the kind of believers who cry out, “Lord, Lord” but have no good works to accompany their confession of faith (see 7:21).

The parable—and the Gospel as a whole—remind us that the words of dismissal at the Eucharist, “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord with your life”, are no perfunctory conclusion to the rite but a programme for living the twin commandment of love of God and love of neighbour. Those who take them to heart have always with them the “oil” required for salvation; they can “sleep” without anxiety about being caught short by the sudden arrival of the Lord.

Fr Brendan Byrne SJ

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St James The Apostle