September 2019: The Deep End
Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
1 September 2019 • World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation
The Deep End • All are Invited to the Banquet
In today’s Gospel, Jesus uses the image of a great banquet to explain God’s vision for our world. He speaks of a place where those who consider themselves entitled to the highest seats at the table take the low seats. He urges us to invite the poor, the lame and the blind to this celebration. Jesus encourages us to turn the world upside down in a reversal, an upheaval, where the preferred option is for the poor and those considered least in society.
Today is an important day, as we begin the Season of Creation (from 1 September until the Feast of St Francis on 4 October). Pope Francis asks all Christians to embrace this season in prayer, in living more sustainably and in raising our voices in the public sphere. We are invited to think more deeply about what is happening at present to the Earth, the environmental destruction which now threatens our world, our common home. The theme this year is ‘The Web of Life.’ The most vulnerable among us are suffering most deeply as this web of life begins to unravel. Our faith calls us to respond to this crisis with urgency. Let us hear the Gospel message today, where we are called to consider those on the margins, including those most at risk from climate change, and let us commit to working towards a world where all are seated at the banquet. Suggestion for the week: Find out more and see what you can do as a parish community during this season of creation at www.seasonofcreation.org.
Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
8 September 2019
The Deep End • Rethinking our attachments
The Gospel is troubling. Does Jesus really expect us to hate our families, friends and even ourselves in order to be his followers? We are being invited to think about how we attach ourselves to things and to people, even to images of ourselves. Attachment can cause all sorts of suffering in our lives. If we are to grow, we must move on from the comfortable, let go of the familiar. That can often be painful. During the month of September, we are celebrating the Season of Creation. We know that our world is currently suffering from a catastrophic loss of biodiversity, largely caused by a consumerist culture. God’s creatures are disappearing from the Earth at a rate we can scarcely comprehend. Insects, mammals, trees, plants and creatures are becoming extinct. We pray that this decline may end, and we acknowledge that we are part of a complex, delicate and interdependent web of life, created by God. Today’s Gospel invites us to let go of the attachments in our lives which contribute to this destruction. Let us try to live more simply and sustainably, and to encourage others to do the same. We are called to examine our relationship with material things and walk more gently on the earth.
‘It is not enough to think of different species merely as potential ‘resources’ to be exploited, while overlooking the fact that they have value in themselves … Because of us, thousands of species will no longer give glory to God by their very existence, nor convey their message to us. We have no such right’ (Laudato Si’, 33).
Suggestion for the week: Can you remove single-use plastics from your life? Buy a reusable water bottle and reusable coffee cup. Say no to plastic straws and food wrapping.
Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
15 September 2019
The Deep End • Called to ‘come to our senses’
The three parables of things lost and found emphasise the unending forgiveness of God, and God’s rejoicing for those who return. In each of the situations there is a frantic search for that which is lost and a huge celebration when the lost is found. In the parable of the Lost Son there is much to reflect on. We hear that the younger brother eventually ‘came to his senses.’ We might pray today that God show us the aspects of our lives in which we also need to come to our senses.
In this Season of Creation, we lament the destruction of God’s creation, we reflect on the loss of bio-diversity and the loss of human life caused by climate change. We pray that as a global community we might, like the lost son, ‘come to our senses’ and take the actions that are necessary to change course. It all seems so huge and perhaps we feel there is nothing significant we can do. That is not the case. As parishes, we can lead by example and show our commitment to care for the earth. The future of our environment depends on the action we take now as a society. As with all significant change, it begins with the grassroots.
‘I wish to address every person living on this planet…to enter into dialogue with all people about our common home…The climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all.’ (Laudato Si’ 3,23)
Suggestion for the week: Can you encourage your family to make small changes in the home, such as ensuring all waste is correctly recycled, composting, encouraging one another to use public transport or walk/cycle when possible? We start with ourselves.
Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
22 September 2019
The Deep End • Kingdom Economics
If you think that all the parables Jesus told were nice stories about people of integrity then today’s Gospel might make you think again. The manager has been put on notice by his CEO and he decides to even up the tables, while he still can, for those who are struggling to pay their debts to the company. He is happy to let debt go and redistribute the finances. The only value the money really has is in the way it is disposed of. Yes, he is a bit of a scoundrel, but Jesus liked scoundrels, once their efforts were put to good use.
During this past year we have seen young people rise up and challenge the governments of the world to take immediate action on climate change. In March 2019, the Global Protest for Climate involved over 1.2 million young people worldwide. Initiated by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, the climate protests shine as a beacon of hope in dark times. Greta stands up to world leaders and calls them to account. She is a modern prophet inspiring millions of young people into political action and challenging all of us to raise our voices for our common home. During this Season of Creation, what can your community do to support these young people? As church, what do we have to say to this powerful movement? The manager in today’s parable invites us to ‘holy mischief.’
‘What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up? … Doomsday predictions can no longer be met with disdain. We may well be leaving to coming generations debris, desolation and filth.’ (Laudato Si’, 160-161).
Suggestion for the week: Explore how you might join with the eco-groups in your community to rejoice in the gift of creation, to share eco-stories and hear other good news of what is already happening. Perhaps you can explore becoming an ‘eco-parish’? (www.ecocongregationireland.com) and ask young people in your area to help you.
Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
29 September 2019
The Deep End • The Rich Man and Lazarus
The Rich Man and Lazarus is a powerful story reminding us that we are called to live our faith in our daily lives through generosity towards the poor and in working towards justice in our world. We do this in a variety of ways and we can see the goodness around us in those who are living examples of the Christian message. We are now called to listen urgently to the cry of the earth and to reflect on the injustices caused by the climate crisis. Millions of people are suffering worldwide through drought, sea-level rise and a breakdown of the earth’s ecological systems.
Joanna Sustento lives in Tacloban city, Philippines. On 8 November 2013 she lost her parents, her brother, her sister-in-law and 3-year-old nephew in the storm surge of Typhoon Haiyan. This storm was the largest to make landfall in recorded history, with wind speeds of over 300km per hour. 10,000 people perished in two hours. Joanna’s story is one of thousands. The strength of Typhoon Haiyan is attributed to climate change. It is an injustice that those who have done the least to cause this problem are on the frontline. The governments of the world must act. They will only do so if the public demand it. We have a responsibility to ensure they do so. We are at a crossroads as a global community and we have the solutions. Let us go forward together to a more sustainable future and listen to the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.
‘Christians need an ‘an ecological conversion,’ whereby the effects of their encounter with Jesus Christ become evident in their relationship with the world around them. Living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience.’ (Laudato Si’, 217)