Justice, Peace & Integrity of Creation - Fr Kevin Bates, 2012-13

kevin bates

Kevin Bates SM is the parish priest of Holy Name of Mary parish, Hunters Hill/Woolwich, NSW, and author of numerous albums of liturgical and reflective music. His weekly reflections for the parish bulletin often include isses of social justice.     Visit Fr Kevin's web site

Click for Fr Kevin's reflections:   2010-11     2014

This page:     Turn back the votes!   Who owns the star jump?    The matter with fear


Turn back the votes!



An extract from Kevin Rudd's 'Faith in Politics', October 2006:

"Another great challenge of our age is asylum seekers. The biblical injunction to care for the stranger in our midst is clear. The parable of the Good Samaritan is but one of many which deal with the matter of how we should respond to a vulnerable stranger in our midst. That is why the government's proposal to excise the Australian mainland from the entire Australian migration zone and to rely almost exclusively on the so-called Pacific Solution should be the cause of great ethical concern to all the Christian churches. “

And from last week’s London Tablet:

Lampedusa, a tiny Mediterranean island, welcomes thousands of tourists every year. But another few thousand each year risk their lives to reach the island. They set off on flimsy, often unseaworthy, craft, frequently paying traffickers thousands of pounds, and some die of thirst on the boat or drown in the high seas.

On Monday last week, Pope Francis chose Lampedusa as the destination of his first pastoral visit outside Rome. He cast a wreath of white and yellow flowers into the waters outside the main port, dignifying the discarded lives and drawing attention to their unmarked deaths.

Some of those who make it to the island are economic migrants seeking a better life; they may already have family in Europe and work lined up. Others are asylum seekers fleeing persecution in their home countries and seeking refugee status, which guarantees them – at least in theory, the protection of the international community.

The island’s immigrant reception centre, built for 850 people, by 2009 was found to be holding 2,000 people. According to Mario Marazziti, a founder member of the Sant’Egidio Community, the islanders are “an incredible example of humanity”, turning up with blankets, clothing and food when another boatload arrives in the middle of the night. “It’s like a regular earthquake,” he says.

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The exhausted arrivals are, of course, the successful ones among those trying to scale the walls of what one umbrella group has dubbed “Fortress Europe”. United Against Racism, a coalition of 560 NGOs, maintains a list of men, women and children known to have died trying to reach Europe since 1993.

To date, it contains 17,306 names, though that is bound to be an underestimate. “God knows how many other deaths there have been,” comments James Stapleton, spokesman for the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) in Rome. “We hope Pope Francis’ words will put pressure on EU states. Italy, Spain and Malta have discussed whose responsibility it is to help when a boat has been in trouble … there is a desperate desire in some states to take as little responsibility as possible.” The Tablet 20 July 2013, p.11

And from a Eucharistic Prayer some of us prayed at Mass last weekend:
“Grant that all the faithful of the Church, looking into the signs of the times by the light of faith, may constantly devote ourselves to the service of the Gospel.  Keep us attentive to the needs of all, that sharing their joy and hope, we may faithfully bring them the good news of salvation and go forward with them along the way of your Kingdom.”

Both major Political Parties are engaged in seeking the best vote-catching position before the coming election.  They both seem intent on out-doing each other on a moral race to the bottom. We all value our vote and our voice in the affairs of our nation.  Once we have voted will we want to re-consider when we see what our leaders are up to? Perhaps we could contact  them prior to the election to let them know our concerns, rather than wishing later on that we had “turned back the votes!”

Jul 28, 2013



Who owns the star jump?



This week a somewhat entertaining, seemingly trivial legal dispute has hit the media. 

Toyota and Jetstar are tackling each other over the issue of  who owns the rights to the “star-jump”. 

You know the one, where the customer in the ad leaps for joy about the purchase of a car on the one hand, or the successful purchase of ultra cheap flight tickets on the other.

Reports are that Toyota has patented something like seventeen variations on the star jump.  

Jetstar are claiming rights over a  number of other versions.   It’s all to do with the leg action, whether the legs are straight of bent as the jump is performed!!

Meanwhile another boat capsizes off Christmas Island.  Riots continue in Cairo. 

People are flooding into Uganda from the Congo for fear of their lives.

A significant number of people in various aged care facilities across Australia are reported to be receiving appalling treatment. 

Hospital waiting lists are getting longer. 
Most mornings  the news features a shooting, bashing or stabbing in some part of Sydney.

Monsoon rains and floods have just killed hundreds in parts of India and Bangladesh.

Five-year-old girls are being sold off as promised brides in Pakistan as bargaining chips in tribal feuds, and some of us are spending money taking each other to the cleaners about who owns which version of the star jump! 

Is something a bit askew here?  Is our attention more easily distracted and entertained by a trivial star jump dispute while  the rest of the world shudders with the sounds of violence and corruption.

What’s that got to do with me? 

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Well I could take a look at my day, my week, my year and reflect on the things that absorb my best energy to see if a little adjustment from time to time would be worth considering.

Given that most of our choices are based on whether they involve pleasure or pain, and given that none of us likes our world to be disrupted by uncomfortable facts or difficult demands, such a self-examination could be a worthy thing from time to time.

For instance, how much of my energy is spent on my favourite subject: me?!  How much of my energy goes into protecting my possessions? 

How much of my time is spent protecting my own or my family’s rights? 

How much of my energy goes into gifting something of myself to the world around me so that others might have life?

The call of the gospel should always make us a bit uncomfortable, if we are listening.

Pope Francis is giving us all a bit of a nudge each week about our lifestyles and the choices we make.

Facing the truth of our world, our personal or communal world, often is a difficult and painful thing. 

The evidence of former Bishop Malone to the Newcastle Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse in the church shows how hard it is for us when we have other interests to protect, to face the truth of things.
The old truism from the gospel about the truth being able to set us free is apt here.

The truth about our world’s suffering, the truth about our own sinfulness, the truth about our sometimes self-absorbed society all need to be faced if our human family is to grow in dignity and grace. 

The same is true for each one of us.  When we can name, own and take responsibility for the truth of things, then we could well celebrate with a wonderful star-jump and cry “Oh what a feeling!”

Jul 21, 2013



The matter with fear




Catholics in Syria are so fearful of losing their lives at any moment that they say farewell to each other at the end of every Mass, the Archbishop of Damascus has said, The Tablet reports.
Maronite Archbishop Samir Nassar told the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need that the country is locked in a "murderous stalemate" that is "stoking the fears of the faithful, who say goodbye to each other at the end of every Mass, so uncertain are they of a continuing future."

This little glimpse of human suffering in one troubled corner of our world, is a poignant reminder of the millions who live in fear all around the globe.

In Syria the fear is occasioned by ongoing political violence and the threat of religious persecution. There seems to be no end in sight and little to hope for. Fear of starvation marks the lives of countless others.

Fear of separation from loved ones is a constant for those living in places with governments who use fear as a means of holding on to power.

In our own lives, fear can colour the experience of every day if we allow it to do so. At least in our case, we have a choice in the matter, unlike the Catholics of Syria and others whose lives are bounded by a fear not of their own making.

Fear has its place of course and works well when we are in danger. It is present when we have experienced a past trauma and coming to terms with that fear can be the work of a lifetime.

It's possible however, for us to choose fear as our way of relating to the world and it is this choice that Jesus comes to remedy. We hear him so often telling us not to be afraid, to trust, to believe and to hope in God's Covenant with us all.

St Paul tells us that nothing at all can come between us and God's love now that Jesus has become the heart of our family, and that there is therefore nothing to fear.

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Still we fall into our little or large fears. We feel unwell and then allow ourselves to be frightened into thinking it might be something worse. Someone is late for an appointment and we fear that they no longer want to be with us, or that they have come to some harm.

Someone or something interrupts our day, and we fear we will never meet the deadline we have for finishing an important task we've begun.

We work in sales and a deal we'd put some hope in falls over, and we're frightened we might be losing our touch.

The weather turns nasty and we fear we've left the windows open back home!

And so it goes, on and on. If someone tells us not to be frightened, we can easily reply that they just don't understand and we can be frightened if we want to be!

"Look at the lilies of the field, the birds in the air." Jesus does his very best to point out that our powerless fear-filled state is not our only option.

We do struggle to believe him until we come to terms with the fact that it is only in God that our safety and peace are to be found.

Until we come to this active belief and learn to trust it, then fear will be our ready companion.

On the other hand, even in the most fearful parts of our world community, fear will not prevail in the hearts of those who believe.

When we allow our hearts to rest in God, fear has no place there because there's too much love in the room!

It's worth a try!

Posted 2nd Sunday of Lent, Mar 2012