Anne O’Brien, Director of Mission at St Agnes’ Catholic Parish, reads from the Gospel of Luke (11: 47-54) in which Jesus continues to call out the Scribes and Pharisees for their actions and hypocrisy.In this Gospel, Anne says, Jesus has most certainly antagonized the Pharisees. He set the scene by publicly criticising the Jewish authorities. They retaliated and searched for ways to silence him. Their problem was that Jesus, a popular speaker, encouraged his listeners to question the real meaning and practice of authority and obedience. Life was about more than well-lined pockets and a table groaning with food. Jesus promoted a care and authenticity for people when he spoke. This was not what the Pharisees were promoting. Anne notes, we see many examples of similar situations today where people are trying to fight for justice. Fr Stan Swamy, a Jesuit priest, fought for decades for the oppressed tribal peoples of India, and he was charged with terrorism. In 2020, at the age of eighty-three, he was imprisoned and denied the medical care he needed for Parkinson’s disease. He died in July 2021, aged eighty-four, seen by many as a martyr for the cause of human rights. Anne reflects that it takes a lot of courage to speak out against injustice and to shake people out of complacency and self-satisfaction. Jesus was brave enough to do it and he challenges us to do it. If we look around there are many injustices we walk past, thinking we can’t do much about them. Jesus offered his example on earth to fight against injustice and be brave. The question is, are we brave enough? Anne invites to pray: Loving Lord, regardless of the personal cost, give me the courage to speak up for what is right and to defend the voiceless people who suffer injustice at the hands of others. Amen.
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