Monday, 21 September 2015

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year B

Numbers 11:25-29; James 5:1-6; Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48
The world today is in trouble – big trouble - politically, economically, socially, and morally. What has gone wrong? There are no easy answers because the problems are complex but I do know that the analyses offered by the ‘experts’ are little more than descriptions of the disease – lust for power, greed for money, reliance on force, apathy fostered by materialism, disrespect for human life – a disease over which they are powerless.
As any doctor will tell you to treat symptoms alone is a sure way of allowing the malady itself to progress until all too often it becomes terminal. This simple logic which stares us all in the face somehow escapes our political leaders and this incapacity to see connections, to think logically, to join the dots to the core of the problem is another sad symptom of our dysfunctional leadership.
I was once asked to give a year twelve graduation talk on the topic ‘Whom shall we follow?’ I explored several options but the worst one, the most disastrous one, the one which led nowhere was – each other – a sure recipe for degeneration and eventual chaos. And yet, this is exactly what our leaders are doing. They constantly ‘test the electorate’, invite ‘feedback’, and conduct ‘internal polls’. They no longer have an inner guidepost pointing the way and so they have to rely on what their polling tells them the Australian people want, or are ready for, or will tolerate.
Moreover, if it is true that we are not ‘going anywhere’, it is even more tragically true that we are not ‘becoming anything’. When truth is supplanted by ‘group think’ we destroy the very foundations of human dignity and condemn ourselves to such parodies of human advancement as ‘technological breakthroughs’ or ‘medical discoveries’.
And so round and round we go with one leader after another – waltzing with one, hip hopping with another – and all the time becoming more and more disillusioned and angry. We vote for the leader we think will give us what we want while they in turn try to discover what the majority of us wants because they want to be voted in. Not only are we going round and round in circles but the circle is a descending spiral. [When a human being is cut off from the source of what gives him meaning and dignity he will eventually revolt but that is another story.]
The real problem, of course, is that we have side-lined the one, the only one we should be following – the only leader who is going somewhere worth going and who can direct us to something worth becoming – and that is Jesus.
Think for a moment about the diseases I mentioned earlier – lust for power, greed for money, reliance on force, apathy fostered by materialism, disrespect for human life – and ask yourself does Julia Gillard or Kevin Rudd or Tony Abbot, Malcolm Turnbull or Bill Shorten inspire you to overcome these things and build a better Australia? I don’t think so.
These failings of the human character will resist any leader or any law which attempts to curb them, as is shown not only by the numbers in jail but also by the multiplicity of our laws. External laws can compel but they can’t change us; they can’t heal us or give us the power we need to walk the road they point out to us. Ask yourself, when it comes to the major causes of disharmony in the world – lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, anger, envy and pride – where is real help to be found?
As things now stand in Australia we are cut off, and we have allowed ourselves to be cut off, from the only hope we have for justice, security and growth. Incredibly, tragically our inertia has allowed him to be banished from our deliberations, and those who banished him have done so because they want to take his place.
Pope Francis often speaks of that other one, not the one who wishes to save us but the one who wishes to destroy us, the one called Satan. Jesus says in the gospel today that: Anyone who is not against us is for us. The opposite is also true.
Those who wish to erase the presence of Christ from this earth also want to destroy us, whether they have realised it yet or not. Therefore we can legitimately, without exaggeration, say that we are in a battle, a battle to the death. Fortunately, a growing number of Christians are beginning to see this. I hope you can see this.
On December 8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception, Pope Francis will institute a Year of Mercy for the whole Church and, indeed, for the world. In the light of this initiative it is certainly worth reflecting on the words of Jesus to St. Faustina: Mankind will not have peace until it turns with trust to My mercy.” (Diary, p.300)

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