JBap Blog

12. Jul, 2018

Everybody’s Business: Developing an inclusive and sustainable economy

Pope Francis has called for an economic system that places men and women at the very centre – one that meets the needs of all people and is just and sustainable. He denounces economic structures that take a purely utilitarian view of human beings, treating them as mere elements of production, to be thrown away if they are not seen as useful or productive.

The Australian Catholic Bishops’ Social Justice Statement for 2017–18 is titled ‘Everyone’s Business: Developing an inclusive and sustainable economy’. The Bishops call for an economy that is founded on justice and offers dignity and inclusion to every person.

The Bishops’ Statement is built around the Gospel for Social Justice Sunday, 24 September 2017. Jesus tells the parable of the workers in the vineyard, where all are active contributors and are recognised for their human dignity.

Australia has experienced a quarter of a century of continuous economic growth, but the benefits of this good fortune have not been distributed equally. In our workplaces, conditions and security of employment have been eroded, while those who are unemployed subsist on incomes well below poverty levels. Australia is experiencing a housing crisis. And our Indigenous brothers and sisters struggle with economic and social burdens that most Australians cannot imagine.

In the light of these challenges, the Statement calls us to build an economy founded on true solidarity with those who are most vulnerable. Such a society will reject an ‘ideology of the market’ that forgets the principles of justice and equity. Justice must be built into the very foundations of our community, and business can work for everybody’s benefit, not just for shareholders. The excluded and vulnerable must have a voice in decision-making. God is calling us to use his bounty wisely, for the good of all and of our planet.

For further details about the Social Justice Statement, visit the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council website (www.socialjustice.catholic.org.au) or call (02) 8306 3499.

Associated resources The ACSJC website (www.socialjustice.catholic.org.au/publications/social-justice-statements) will have resources available for download free of charge before Social Justice Sunday. They will include Social Justice Sunday Liturgy Notes, a PowerPoint presentation and resources for schools and social justice groups. Prayer Cards and ‘Ten Steps’ leaflets can be ordered from the ACSJC on (02) 8306 3499 or by email: admin@acsjc.org.au.

Dear Friends,

Re: Social Justice Statement 2018–2019

A Place to Call Home: Making a home for everyone in our land

Social Justice Sunday will be celebrated this year on 30 September. I am writing to inform you about the Catholic Bishops’ Social Justice Statement and how you can access it.

The 2018–2019 Statement, titled A Place to Call Home: Making a home for everyone in our land, is a response to the growing problem of homelessness in Australia. It seems hard to believe that in a rich nation such as ours, the latest Census figures show that the number of Australians who are homeless has grown to more than 116,000. House prices and even rents are spiralling out of reach of too many families and placing huge financial stress on ordinary people, even when they are employed. For those living on pensions or allowances, finding secure housing can be a far greater challenge – one that often takes a terrible toll on social wellbeing and mental health.

The Scriptural basis of this year’s Statement is Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30–35), about the outsider who stops to help a man in desperate need, takes him to safety and pays for his care.

The Statement examines the extent of Australia’s homelessness and housing crisis. It emphasises that secure housing is a human right and an uncontestable public good, affirmed by both Catholic teaching and the Declaration of Human Rights. In concluding, it issues a challenge to government, to Church and community and to us as individuals to bring about change and reform.

The Statement will be launched during September. Copies of it can be ordered now from the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council by using the attached order form. Additionally, the Statement will be available for download on the websites of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (www.catholic.org.au) and the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council (www.socialjustice.catholic.org.au) from the week of the launch. In the attached summary sheet there is a suggested notice that can be used by parishes, schools and groups as Social Justice Sunday approaches.

I commend this Statement to you and your contacts and would invite you to promote it as widely as possible.

Yours sincerely in Christ,

Archbishop Mark Coleridge President

11. Jul, 2018

Tom Hoopes https://aleteia.org/2018/07/09/all-the-times-jesus-warned-of-hell/

The tremendous power of our freedom is not something to take lightly. It's also not something that should make us afraid.

Hell is a tough reality of human existence — one that Pope Francis has warned about, saints have seen in terrifying visions, and 20th-century apparitions emphasized.

Most importantly, Jesus warned about hell in the Gospels.

Ultimately, faith has to be motivated by love, not fear — but Jesus thought it would be helpful to offer several examples of damnation, and I have personally found it helpful to keep them in mind.

After all, as St. John Paul II said, “hell is the ultimate safeguard of man’s conscience.”

The Catechism Pope John Paul promulgated in 1992 explains the existence of hell by describing mortal sin, which “causes exclusion from Christ’s kingdom and the eternal death of hell, for our freedom has the power to make choices forever, with no turning back.”

But what choices do the Gospels warn lead to hell?

First and most importantly, the decision not to serve the needy leads to hell.

In Matthew 25, Jesus presents his great parable of the last judgment in which the king separates mankind into two groups.

He welcomes those on his right to his kingdom saying, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.”

Then, to those on his left who did none of these things, he says, “Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”

His reason? “Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” And “what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.”

God so closely associates himself with men and women made in his image and likeness that when we fail to serve our neighbours, we fail to serve him.

Jesus also warns those who do not spread the faith that they risk damnation.

But it is important to recognize that it is not just the material wellbeing of our neighbours we are responsible for, but their spiritual wellbeing, too.

Just before the Final Judgment in Matthew 25, Jesus tells the Parable of the Talents.

In it, a man going on a journey entrusts his possessions to his servants, giving five talents to one, two to another and just one to a third. When he returns, the first two servants have doubled their money, and are rewarded. But the other servant returns his one talent — he had buried it to keep it safe.

The master complains that he at least should have put it in the bank, and commands “throw this useless servant into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.”

This story has helped shape my own life, driving home that “doing nothing” is not an option for a Christian. We must do something for God with what we have been given — at least volunteering at our parish, banking our talents with the Church.

Jesus also says those who don’t live a life of prayer backed by good works could also be headed toward ruin.

In a third Matthew 25 parable about hell, Jesus tells about the Wise and Foolish Virgins who are waiting for the Bridegroom to invite them into his wedding banquet — a metaphor for heaven.

The wise virgins have come prepared with enough oil to last the night, and the Bridegroom welcomes them in. The foolish virgins have not, and when they knock, they hear the terrible words, “I do not know you.”

The oil is their prayer and good works. The Bridegroom only knows people who talk to him and do his will. Claiming to be part of his company is not enough. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven,” he says in the Sermon on the Mount, “but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”

In each case, Jesus says we can be damned by our sins of omission — by those things we fail to do. But he also warns about what we do.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus lists sins that lead to hell:

This all makes perfect sense — if not serving our brothers and sisters leads to hell, then certainly harming them (and ourselves) will, too.

So hell is the “bad news” of the Gospel. But don’t forget the good news.

Jesus summed up the Gospel this way: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

Mercy is the beginning, end, and heart of his message:

  • He announced that he “desires mercy, not sacrifice,” and came “to call not the righteous but sinners”; he loves the humble prayer of sinners.
  • He scandalized religious leaders by forgiving the paralytic and the woman caught in adultery and by eating with tax collectors and sinners.
  • He taught us that God is like the forgiving Father of the Prodigal Son.
  • He died on the cross saying, “Father, forgive them,” then he rose from the dead to give the apostles the power to forgiver sins on his behalf.

So, keep in mind the road that leads to perdition, but don’t be afraid. God will do everything he can to keep you off of it, if you let him.

9. Jul, 2018

Doom to the shepherds who allow the flock to scatter and be destroyed

Doom to us shepherds! I’m keenly aware that I’m responsible for you before God. It’s not that you can’t make your own choices but I have a duty of care to make sure those choices are well informed.

The Church teaches there are five things that guarantee that we will have the right spirit, that we share in the life of God and that we grow in love of God and neighbour. The first (and most important) precept is that we are required to participate in the Eucharist where we celebrate the Lord’s Resurrection every Sunday (or the Saturday vigil). Not only do we hear the Gospel and gather as one, but we cement our personal relationship with Jesus who desires to commune with us. This produces many benefits: spiritually, psychologically and perhaps even physically.

The other precepts are (2) you shall confess your sins at least once a year (3) you shall receive Holy Communion at least once a year (4) you shall keep the holy days of obligation which are the feast days that honour the mysteries of the Lord, Our Lady, and the Saints (5) you shall observe the prescribed days of fasting and abstinence on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

In the Gospel, Jesus gives the example of teaching. It wasn’t because the people were stupid or that he was clever. It was because his taking responsibility for them, made him think in a different way. This holds true for the Church’s teaching Magisterium. This also holds true for me. I think in a different way than you. Why? Because I love you and I am responsible for you. My thinking is about protecting you by helping you to make the right choices.

Out of love for you I need to speak about one choice that people are often getting wrong and this affects the whole of their life and the way they live their life. This choice is an omission and has to do with the first precept. This choice is omitting to be faithful to Jesus.

The mystic souls understood that Jesus is an intimate lover. In the greatest act of intimate love Jesus yearns to commune with you. One day he said to Sr Faustina “My great delight is to unite Myself with souls. Know, My daughter, that when I come to a human heart in Holy Communion, My hands are full of all kinds of graces which I want to give to the soul. But souls do not even pay any attention to Me; they leave Me to Myself and busy themselves with other things. Oh, how sad I am that souls do not recognise Love! They treat Me as a dead object.”

I just want to get across one point today and I can only teach that point from the way I live my life. I am driven by love to receive Jesus and be united with him, to be intimate with my God. Everywhere in the world that I travelled prior to becoming a priest the first thing I did was to find the daily Mass. I know where daily Mass is in Russia, Siberia, England, France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Bosnia, Montenegro, Chile, etc. Love drove me and love kept me faithful to Jesus. Similarly love gets me to Confession regularly.

From my life I can teach you that keeping the first precept of the Church – to go to Mass every Sunday – depends solely on how much love we have for Jesus. You can’t say “I love you Jesus” and then abandon him like an unfaithful lover who seeks the arms of another. Love and betrayal is at stake every Sunday. And that’s only one reason why the decision to be faithful or unfaithful will colour everything in your life. Today let’s reflect on the way we are living our lives. Let’s consider our choices and show Jesus that we love him.

5. Jul, 2018

Let God be God

Amos delivered a message of justice in the Northern Kingdom of Israel. God had been forgotten in a time of material prosperity of the privileged few while most Israelites were facing dire poverty. Amos’ preaching provides a prophetic witness for all ages of God’s condemnation of the spiritual blindness of the upper-class and their unjust exploitation of the poor.

Amos explicitly linked justice toward one’s neighbour and righteousness before God established by God through the covenant at Sinai. Amos considered himself no more than a shepherd but through him God was calling Israel back to covenant standards of righteousness. He understood the ‘flock’ was straying and if they didn’t put God 1st righteousness wouldn’t exist.

In Amos we see the vocation of caring for and tending to the community originating in his shepherding of sheep. This simple shepherd put God 1st so his ability to look after others came from the profound faith he had in God to look after him. St Paul delivers a complimentary message. Belonging to God has significance for our lives. We are created to be holy and spotless according to God’s kind purpose. That purpose is to praise the glory of God’s grace.

This stumped me a little thinking of people who repeatedly cry out ‘praise Jesus, we praise you Lord’ and so on. It means our fulfillment is in praising the grace given to us in Christ who sacrificed himself for us. It is much deeper than the superficiality of words. Certainly, nowhere does this hymn (in Ephesians) praise self-reliance, the accumulation of wealth and living in isolation which is how we tend to live, and which is fertile ground for social injustice.

Moving to the Gospel, and in contrast to our current modern lifestyle, discipleship explicitly highlights faith in God’s providence. This means complete reliance on God who created us to also look after us. I believe the experience of God’s providential care is what empowered the disciples to show this care for their community. It was Amos’ experience as well albeit his response (of putting God 1st) was prior to Jesus. Now that God has given us everything in Christ it’s up to us to praise God by relying on the gifts of our faith that we receive from Jesus.

For this to work we need to let God be God in our lives. Members of the early Church were great examples of this. Although they were materially poor they were completely satisfied in their lifestyle of complete dependency on God. In their understanding that God was God they allowed God to care for them. This lesson seems to have been lost as so few of us live for God alone.

Praising God’s gracefulness by belonging wholly and wholeheartedly to God is what allows God to be God in our life. When we do this it’s the experience of God’s care that enables us to care for others, to share our blessings, and to work to restore justice in our communities. So, if we can see injustice perhaps we need to revisit the way we allow God to care for us; we need to revisit the way we allow God to be God in our life.

Image: https://pixabay.com/en/photos/prayer/

3. Jul, 2018


By Hannah Brockhaus

Vatican City, Jul 1, 2018 / 05:40 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Catholics have no reason to fear death, because Christ the Lord has power over death; instead, they should fear sin, which hardens and kills the soul, Pope Francis said Sunday.

“Jesus is the Lord, and before Him physical death is like sleep: there is no reason to despair. A different [thing] is the death to be afraid of: that of the heart hardened by evil! Of that yes, we must be afraid!” the pope said July 1. “It is the death of the heart.”

“But even sin, even the mummified heart, is never the last word for Jesus, because He has brought us the infinite mercy of the Father.”

Francis explained that “even if we fell down, [Jesus’] soft and strong voice reaches us: ‘I tell you: get up’ It is beautiful to hear those words of Jesus addressed to each one of us: ‘I tell you: stand up! Go. Stand up, be brave, get up!’”

During his Angelus address, the pope reflected on how the words Jesus speaks in the day’s Gospel from Mark speak also to people today. In the passage, Jesus performs two miraculous healings: the hemorrhaging woman and the young daughter of a synagogue official.

In both cases, there is a singe center: faith, he said. “And they show Jesus as the source of life, as the one who gives back life to those who trust him fully.”

When Jesus and the disciples, as they walk to the house of Jairus, receive the message that the girl has already died, “we can imagine the dad’s reaction,” he said. “But Jesus tells him: ‘Do not be afraid, only have faith!’”

Everyone should strive to have this faith, Pope Francis said, and no one should ever feel they do not have a right to reach out to Jesus, just like the hemorrhaging woman.

To have access “to the heart of Jesus, there is only one requirement: to feel in need of healing and to entrust one’s self to Him,” he said.

Speaking off-the-cuff, the pope asked: “does each one of you feel in need of healing? [To be healed] of something, some sin, some problem?”

“And, if you hear this, do you have faith in Jesus? These are the two requisites to be healed, to have access to his heart: to feel in need of healing and to rely on Him.”

After praying the Angelus, Pope Francis spoke about several countries experiencing violence and conflict. He said he renewed his prayers for the people of Nicaragua, praising the the Nicaraguan bishops and people working to bring about mediation and national dialogue.

He also noted the situation in Syria, which he said, “remains serious,” especially in the province of Daraa, where recent military action has resulted in damage to schools and hospitals and created thousands of new refugees.

“I renew, together with prayer, my appeal that the population, already hard-tried for years, will be spared further suffering,” he said. The pope also guaranteed his prayers for the young people who have been missing in an underground cave in Thailand for over a week.

Francis added that “in the midst of so many conflicts,” it is also right to point out good news, noting that “after 20 years, the governments of Ethiopia and Eritrea have come back to talk about peace together.”

“May this meeting light a light of hope for these two countries of the Horn of Africa and for the entire African continent,” he said.

He concluded by mentioning his upcoming visit to the Italian town of Bari, where, with leaders of Christian Churches and communities in the Middle East, he will have a day of prayer and reflection on the situation in that region.

There “so many of our brothers and sisters in the faith continue to suffer, and we will implore [with] one voice: ‘Peace be upon you’ (Ps. 122:8),” he said. “I ask everyone to accompany this pilgrimage of peace and unity with prayer.”