When an Arrow Misses the Target…

This Sunday's gospel is from Luke 15:1-32 and features 3 stories: the Good Shepherd, the Lost Coin and the Prodigal Son. The following is a homily by Fr Michael Tate who has kindly agreed to our printing it here.

These little parables were told by Jesus in answer to the complaint of the Pharisees that he 'welcomes sinners and eats meals with them'. After all, sinners should be shunned, for fear of contamination. Jesus simply answers that they are precious to him and worth seeking out.

Who are the ones he seeks out? Sinners. Who are 'sinners'?

If we think of sinners as those who deliberately break some moral rule then we are not really on Jesus' wavelength. Of course, one way of looking at sin and sinners is to look at the rules.

I was a member of the Parole Board for some years and I dealt with prisoners convicted of breaking the rules of the Criminal Code, and I lecture on violations of the rules of warfare, such as the deliberate massacre of innocent civilians to advance some military cause. Yes, some sinners are rather easily able to be seen in the rule-breaking stereotype. It seems to be deep in the Christian psyche that one's moral status is determined by whether one keeps the rules or breaks the rules. But that is not how Jesus thought.

The word used for sin in the Gospels is 'hamartia'. It comes from the world of archery and refers to an arrow falling short of the mark, an arrow which flies off target. The target for human beings is sharing in the life of God, ultimately with our transformed bodies pulsing with divine life and energy. We might call that the long range target. But we are constantly presented with nearer-range targets such as opportunities for generosity, compassion, acts of justice, unselfish love, courage in the face of adversity. The centre, the bulls-eye, of such close range targets, is perfectly aligned with the centre of the long-range target, so that in centring on what is immediately presented to us we are in fact centring on the ultimate target.

Most of us, a fair bit of the time when presented with a real-life situation, fall short of the mark. We shoot astray. We are off-target. This is usually through negligence, laziness, failing to discipline or train ourselves. But, occasionally, we can deliberately and maliciously fire the arrow into the ground. This is deliberate mortal sin which can destroy our relationship with God and we need the forgiveness and hospitality of God to encourage us to aim better. That is why the Jesus of the Gospels invited people who were sinners to share in a meal with Him. He wanted them to be close to Him so that he could encourage them to become the archers they were able to be.

He still issues that invitation. He invites us to share in the Mass which has many dimensions, but one of which is clearly a sacred meal in which He shares His presence under the appearance of bread and wine. Another aspect is to realise that the Mass is a re-enactment of Jesus Christ's expert drawing of the bow, letting fly and perfectly hitting the mark in his life, death, resurrection and ascension to heavenly glory. Each Mass brings us closer to that target of heavenly glory.

© Fr Michael Tate

Community Mass

It was lovely having a number of Year 8 students, parents and teachers at the Community Mass this morning. Thank you to all the students who read or took on other ministries. The Community Mass is a joyous Eucharist that ripples out into our homes, parishes and wider community. Everyone is welcome. Chapel, Friday mornings, 8:00-8:30.

© Dorothy Woodward - Emmaus Productions

Parish Life

Sacramental Program

We are delighted to congratulate Juliette Steens who will be confirmed this weekend by Bishop Sproxton at Holy Rosary Parish, Nedlands.

Details of parish sacramental programs for 2014 will become available in Term 4. In the meantime, for any questions about the Family-focused, Parish-based School-supported Sacramental Program, please contact : lumley.mary-anne@johnxxiii.edu.au