Above photograph: thanks to Matt Botsford
All Saints Day
Reflection on the Gospel: Feast of All Saints (Matthew 5:1-12)
We have become so familiar with the beatitudes that there is a danger of our listening only to the mellifluous flow of language and of failing to attend to the extraordinary present and future reversal that they offer to those who suffer injustice and to those who choose nonviolent ways of addressing it. With pandemic sweeping the globe and affecting the dispossessed quite disproportionately, it is time to listen anew to these opening words of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.
Jesus of Nazareth knew in his body the experience of displacement: from Bethlehem to Egypt; from Judaea to Galilee. He shared the experience of Galilean peasant farmers and artisans. His words are grounded in the stories, the music, the poetry, the law and the history of his people. They foreground the qualities of those whom we honour as saints, those who are remembered by name and those who are not. The mountain setting establishes Jesus as wisdom teacher like Moses of old. God’s favour rests on the poor/the humble/the “grounded”, on the gentle, on those who grieve for the pain of the world, on serious justice seekers, on those who know how to mercy, on the pure or single-minded of heart, on peacemakers, and on those who suffer in the cause of right. The repetition of ‘blessed are…’ (a better translation of the Greek makarioi than ‘happy’) provides multiple links with Israel’s collection of sacred songs, the Psalms. For Israel’s lyricists, God’s favour or blessing is on those whose hope is in God, on those whose delight is in God’s way, on those who take refuge in God, on the guileless in spirit and on those whom God forgives.
The content of the beatitudes echoes the voice of Israel’s prophets, especially Isaiah 61. God’s spirit is upon Jesus. He brings the good news of God’s present and future favour or blessing to the destitute and to those who mourn. The distinguishing mark of God’s favoured ones is righteousness or right relationship. God’s favour or blessing comes in diverse forms: the basileia or empire of the heavens; comfort in the face of grief; the earth as a heritage to be protected; the joy of being mercied; face to face encounter with God; a great reward “in heaven”.
If heaven is only a place to be enjoyed in the afterlife, it is little consolation for the desperately poor or for those who are persecuted or misrepresented to know that “the empire of the heavens is theirs” or that their “reward is great in heaven”. “Heaven” is better understood as a way of talking about God or God’s empire of justice and compassion in contrast with the heartless empire of Rome and its modern equivalents. Maybe the most urgent invitation in our present context is to mourn strategically the displacement of so many of earth’s inhabitants who, in these liminal times, long for the blessing of God’s kin-dom in the form of comfort and mercy and a just share in the earth’s resources.
-Veronica Lawson RSM
October - month of the Rosary
Pohutukawa Coast Prayer Group
People from various churches are gathering to pray at St Mark's Anglican Church, 102 Maraetai Drive, Maraetai, Thursday mornings 7am. Open to all.
This group will meet via Zoom while present restrictions are in place.
Please contact Vivienne Gosbee at email@example.com if you would like to join in.
Caring Group to help our community
They'll know we are Christians by our love. And one way we can show our Christian love is to care for one another, especially in times of need or distress.
Several people have already volunteered their services to start the Group but we need more. We also need to know if there is anyone who needs help from the Caring Group. So, if you would like to be a volunteer who may be called upon from time to time please contact Glenis Clapham (ph: 09 536 6305) or Kathie McNabney (ph: 09 530 8130). If you need some help or know of someone from our community who needs help please let Glenis or Kathie know.
Have you considered joining the parish planned giving programme? No more searching through your purse or wallet at collection time. You will be provided with a set of envelopes which need only be placed in the basket with your donation inside. And best of all at the end of each tax year you will receive a statement of your contributions so you can make a claim on your tax return.
Why not join up now. Contact the parish office or follow the link below for further information. Ph 5348710
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How giving a little can mean a lot
‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25:40)
There are always people in need, sometimes long term, sometimes short term, sometimes in an emergency. The parish Food Bank, run by the Howick branch of the SVDP society, helps many families who find themselves in need of basic food items. Through supporting this we are putting into action the Church's principles of Social Justice: Human Dignity, Preferential Option for the Poor, the Common Good, Solidarity, Subsidiarity, Stewardship and Participation.
When you come to Mass at Beachlands try to bring one food item, a packet or can that can be added to the Food Bank, and place it in the basket on the table when you come in.
Giving a little can mean such a lot.
Please continue to keep Clarice Scarborough, Eileen Gallagher, John Clapham, Allan Saunders, Francis McNabney and other members of our community in your prayers.
John also asks us to pray for a breakthrough for treatment within New Zealand for neuroendocrine cancer.