30th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Nguyen Van Mah is one of eight sons. In 1978 his
poor farming parents had to decide which one of their 12 children
would be sent on a boat from Vietnam. They knew there was a great
risk that they would be sending their son to his death on the South
At 4.00 am a knock on the door of the family home came and Mah said
his goodbyes. He has not seen his parents since. Mah was blindfolded
and travelled in the back of a truck for eight hours. He was led
through the jungle to a beach where the blindfold was removed. Mah
told me that sometimes at this moment people are shot by evil traders
who collect the money without any intention of dispatching a boat.
That families never hear from their children is no surprise.
Mah told me, ‘We were lucky, we made it off the beach.’
There were 29 adults in a boat built for 10. Inadequately prepared
for the two week trip, all the boat people were sick, hungry and
exposed. Thai pirates attacked their boat, executed three men and
raped all the women on board. They were to bury another six people
at sea who died from the effects of the journey.
On sighting land, the remaining 20 people in Mah's boat thought
hope had arrived. But the Malaysian Navy, under orders to fire on
all Vietnamese boats, forced it to return to international waters.
Mah told me, ‘At this point I almost lost my faith in God
and human beings. I was going to die.’
The boat began to take water and was noticed by a Dutch trading
ship which rescued them and deposited them in the Philippines. Mah
migrated to Australia 12 months later and is now the local doctor
in an outback community that could not get a doctor for two years.
Isaiah tells us today ‘You shall not wrong or oppress a resident
alien for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.’ Jesus tells
us in the Gospel that the love of God is fulfilled precisely in
as much as we love our neighbour.
No pressing issue in the Western World, it seems to me, invites
such hysteria as does immigration. Until recently, most western
countries have been good in offering hospitality to people who have
chosen to leave, or have had to flee their country of birth. Given
our comparative wealth this hospitality is entirely appropriate.
And it is also appropriate for our countries to have a threshold
number for the sake of the common good.
In today’s Gospel, however, Jesus does not promise us that
the love of God and neighbour is going to cost us nothing. Jesus’
law of love involves sacrifice for us individually and as a nation.
Through the acceptance of this teaching we are committing ourselves
to being our neighbour's keeper. In another part of the same Gospel,
Jesus tells us that ‘those to whom much has been given, much
will be required.’ Sadly, many of us want the good life for
ourselves, while doing very little to help other countries become
more liveable, and then we can reject people who want to share in
the blessings we have worked for and inherited.
The Gospel of Matthew gives us the story of Mary, Joseph and Jesus
being forced to flee Israel for Egypt as refugees. If the Holy Family
were coming our way these days, they might be sent back to King
Herod. May this Eucharist see in us a change of heart that enables
our faith to act justly toward all people everywhere. May our goodness
and hospitality mirror on earth the welcome we hope to enjoy from
Jesus, Mary and Joseph in the kingdom which is promised to all,
irrespective of where any of us has been born.
READINGS THIS WEEK
Treat all people with generosity.
1 Thes 1:5-10
The Thessalonians have become a model for others.
A lawyer asks Jesus which commandment is greatest.
the people of St Francis Xavier - St Clare parish, seek to live
lives, celebrating God’s presence & our faith values
through worship, outreach, service, justice & hospitality.
our Vision Statement
Next meeting: 6 November 2014
©Creative Ministry Resources Pty Ltd