Year A – 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time


(Jer.20:10-13; Rom.5:12-15; Mt.10:26-33)

In the days of ancient Greece, the word for actor was hypocritēs. A hypocrite was someone who simply wore a mask and played the part of a character in a play.

But by New Testament times, that meaning had changed. A hypocrite became someone who wore a mask in real life, pretending to be something he wasn’t.

There are lots of examples of hypocrisy in literature, history and life – and dare I say it, in the Church. In Shakespeare’s Othello, for example, Iago appears as an honest and loyal friend, but deep down he’s a nasty man plotting to destroy the prince.  

Do you remember Graham Richardson, the former Australian senator (1983-94)? He was a Minister in the Hawke and Keating Governments, and a ruthless political player. He was sometimes called the Senator for Kneecaps.

After he retired, he wrote his memoirs, Whatever It Takes. In them, he admits the duplicity, dishonesty and trickery he used to achieve political success.

The trouble with such hypocrisy, however, is that you can only hide the truth for so long; you can’t fool all the people all the time. As well, hypocrisy makes you live a double life; it causes you to live in fear; it destroys reputations and relationships; and it leads others astray.

It also draws us away from Jesus Christ.

In last week’s Gospel, Jesus summons his disciples and gives them a mission: to help and heal the lost people of Israel and to proclaim the kingdom of heaven.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus gives his disciples some good advice. He tells them (three times) that they should not be afraid, and he says that ‘everything that is now covered will be uncovered, and everything now hidden will be made clear.’

‘What I say to you in the dark, tell in the daylight;’ he adds, and ‘what you hear in whispers, proclaim from the housetops.’

In other words, live openly and honestly in the clear light of day, and most especially – avoid hypocrisy.

Jesus often thunders against hypocrisy; he knows it’s one of the most dangerous of sins. ‘Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites!’ he says in Matthew 23. ‘You’re like whitewashed tombs on the outside, but inside you are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean!’ (Mt.23:27).

In 2017, Pope Francis said that Jesus railed against hypocrites because the language of hypocrisy is the language of deceit. It’s the language the serpent used with Eve: it begins with flattery, and it ends up destroying people.

‘It tears the personality and soul of a person to pieces,’ he said. ‘It destroys communities and it hurts the Church.’ [i]

Psychologists tell us that the root of all hypocrisy is the desire to be loved and accepted without judgement.

But there is a better way to earn love and acceptance; it’s by living authentically, by living a life of genuine honesty and humility.

People who are honest and humble don’t need to lie. They don’t need to paint false pictures. They accept who they are, with all their strengths and weaknesses. They understand what they can and can’t do, and whatever’s missing they make up for with faith and love.

Jesus’ message for us today is this: if you are serious about being his disciple, if you are serious about living a good Christian life, then avoid hypocrisy, because there’s no reward in heaven for hypocrites.

Let’s close with a little poem from Grenville Kleiser (1868-1953), a Canadian who taught public speaking at Yale Divinity School:

You can fool the hapless public,
You can be a subtle fraud,
You can hide your little meanness,
But you can’t fool God!

You can advertise your virtues,
You can self-achievement laud,
You can load yourself with riches,
But you can’t fool God!

You can magnify your talent,
You can hear the world applaud,
You can boast yourself somebody,
But you can’t fool God! [ii]

Yes, ‘you can’t fool God.’

And there’s no point even trying to, for he’s already counted every hair on your head.



Year A – 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Never See a Need

(Ex.19:2-6; Rom.5:6-11; Mt.9:36-10:8)

2,000 years ago, the Roman Empire totally controlled the Mediterranean world. All power and wealth were held by the Roman elite and their supporters.

Below them were huge numbers of poor, landless peasants, burdened by high taxes. And anyone opposing the regime was punished, often by crucifixion.

This is the world Jesus lived in. Even as a child, he saw hundreds of people crucified along the road between Capernaum and Nazareth.[i] He knew how desperate the people were. He understood the poverty and injustice, the resentment and the anger.

But Jesus didn’t just feel sorry for these people. He had compassion for them, and compassion is much more than an emotion. To have compassion is to feel someone else’s pain, and then do something about it.

This is the background to Matthew’s Gospel today. Jesus sees a crowd of dejected people; to him, they look like sheep without a shepherd. He knows they are troubled and vulnerable, and his heart is filled with compassion.

So, what does he do about it? He summons his twelve disciples, and he authorises them to go out to help and heal these people. ‘Go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel,’ he says.

This is a turning point in Matthew’s Gospel, because Jesus commissions his disciples to continue the work he has started. He knows he can’t do it all alone. That’s why Matthew calls them the ‘12 Apostles,’ for an apostle is a messenger sent by Jesus to spread the Gospel and continue his mission of love.

Just like the Good Samaritan who found a wounded man lying by the roadside, Jesus commissions his disciples to meet suffering with compassion.

This is what Caroline Chisholm (1808-77) did when she first arrived in Sydney from England in 1838. Sydney was a convict town then, and she arrived with her husband and children. She was appalled to see so many young women being exploited in the colony. Many had come hoping to start a new life, but instead found themselves unemployed, destitute and living in filthy conditions.

Caroline Chisholm was 30 at the time, and a recent Catholic convert. She was shocked by what she saw. She persuaded the governor to provide accommodation in a ‘Female Immigrants’ Home’ in Sydney. Then she began organising work for these girls, and she started the first free employment agency.

She also took women and girls by wagon and boat to country regions where they quickly found well-paid positions.

By 1846, when she returned to England, she had helped 11,000 people find jobs or settle as farmers in New South Wales. Back in England, she continued to publicise and work for improved emigration to Australia. She raised funds to help families travel to the penal colony, to be reunited with their loved ones, and she worked on improving conditions on the ships.

In the 1850s, her focus moved to Victoria, where she got the government to establish roadside shelters for miners caught up in the Ballarat and Bendigo goldrushes.

When Caroline Chisholm converted to Catholic Christianity, she not only felt a burning love for Jesus Christ. She was also filled with a deep compassion for those who suffered. When she saw a need, she did something about it.

In his book Food for the Soul, Peter Kreeft writes that when Jesus commissioned his disciples to serve as his missionaries and evangelists, he didn’t say ‘These words apply to the clergy only.’ Jesus wants all his disciples to take up his mission of spreading the Gospel of love. But how might we do that today?

Kreeft says that we spread the Gospel not only by our words, but also by our deeds. ‘The Gospel that converted the hard-nosed Roman Empire was not first of all beautiful words but beautiful deeds, deeds of love.’

‘You can argue with words,’ he says, ‘but you can’t argue with deeds, with lives, with saints.’ [ii]

Indeed, you can’t argue with Caroline Chisholm’s remarkable work.

Many people who call themselves Christian today seem to live by the creed, ‘never see a need.’ In many ways they are quite switched off. But St Mary of the Cross McKillop, Australia’s first saint, often used to say, ‘Never see a need – without doing something about it.’

Never see a need – without doing something about it.

This is compassion. This is Christian love.

There are unmet needs – large and small – all around us.

What might you do about them?

[i] Frank Andersen, Jesus: Our Story.HarperCollinsReligious, Sydney, 1994:14.

[ii] Peter Kreeft, Food for the Soul – Cycle A. Word on Fire, Park Ridge, IL. 2022:520-521.

Year A – Corpus Christi Sunday

Highway to Heaven

[Deut.8:2-3,14-16; 1Cor.10:16-17; Jn.6:51-58]

Many people think that saints aren’t relevant today, because they belong to another age.

What they don’t realise is that every age produces its own saints, and right now, many remarkable young people are on their way to sainthood. One such person is Carlo Acutis, an Italian boy who was born in London in 1991.

Carlo was raised in Milan, and his mother described him as a normal boy who was joyful, sincere and helpful, and loved having friends. ‘To be close to Carlo,’ she said, ‘was to be close to a fountain of fresh water.’

He had a generous heart and like many young people today, he especially loved computer programming, video games and the Internet.

But the beating heart of Carlo’s life was Jesus. He discovered Jesus when he was a little boy. His parents were non-practising Catholics, but they had him baptised and did not object to his First Holy Communion and Confirmation. His mother said that after his First Communion he never missed daily Mass or the Rosary, followed by a moment of Eucharistic adoration. Indeed, whenever he saw a church, he wanted to enter and say hello to Jesus in the tabernacle. He could stay for hours, praying in front of the Cross.

Carlo was fascinated by the Eucharist; he knew it was special. When he was 11, he said ‘the more Eucharist we receive, the more we’ll become like Jesus, so that on this earth we’ll have a foretaste of Heaven’.

He called the Eucharist his ‘Highway to Heaven,’ and asked his parents to take him to the location of every Eucharistic miracle. He also started recording the details of all these miracles, cataloguing 164 of them from all over the world, creating a virtual museum on the Internet for all to see. He also helped create an exhibition that has already travelled the world to thousands of parishes. [i]

Despite his young age, Carlo shared many profound thoughts. He believed that every teenager who wants to be ‘normal,’ can still be holy and individually unique. And he said that his life plan was ‘to always be close to Jesus’.[ii]

He also said that all people are born as originals, but many die as photocopies. If you want to die as an ‘original,’ he said, then you need to be guided by Christ and look at him constantly.

Sadly, in 2006 Carlo was diagnosed with an aggressive type of leukaemia and ten days later, he died.

He had suffered terribly, but his faith in Jesus gave him great courage. He offered up his sufferings for the good of the Pope and the Church, and as he requested, he was buried in his favourite place, Assisi.

In 2020, Pope Francis beatified Carlo, and now he is a patron of the 2023 World Youth Day, in Lisbon. He’s expected to be canonised soon.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus says, ‘I am the living bread which has come down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever.’

Many people struggle to understand these words; they wonder how the bread and wine at Holy Communion can possibly be the body and blood of Christ. But young Carlo understood. That’s why he was so fascinated by Eucharistic miracles. He knew they were signs pointing to God’s profound love for us. He knew they were evidence of the Real Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist.

Just nine days after Carlo’s death, another Eucharistic miracle occurred in Tixtla, Mexico. A priest noticed a reddish substance pouring from the host he was holding. Scientific examination later found the reddish substance to be blood type AB, the same as that found on the Shroud of Turin. The blood came from inside the host, and the tissue was found to be heart muscle.[iii]

This finding matches the results of three other Eucharistic miracles as described in Ron Tesoriero and Lee Han’s remarkable book, Unseen. These miracles occurred in Buenos Aires, Argentina (1996), Lanciano, Italy (750 AD), and Sokolka, Poland (actually on the anniversary of Carlo’s death in 2008). 

In all three cases, the Eucharistic host was found to contain human heart tissue and the blood type AB. As well, the white blood cells indicated that the heart was alive and had suffered trauma when the tissue samples were taken. [iv]

The Eucharist is God’s remarkable gift to us. But it’s also a mystery, and that’s why every now and then God gives us a sign – a miracle – to demonstrate what’s really happening.  These miracles show us just how much God loves us, and they confirm the Real Presence of Jesus in every Eucharistic host. 

Yes, every age produces its own special saints.

Carlo Acutis is a very modern saint for today’s world, sent by God to point to the truth of his Eucharistic gift.

(To explore Carlo’s Highway to Heaven go to





Year A – Trinity Sunday

When Many Are One

(Acts 2:1-11; 1Cor.12:3b-7, 12-13; Jn.20:19-23)

Sometimes our language fails us, and we find it hard to explain things.

Take God, for example. Some scholars say that God is utterly beyond our capacity to understand or imagine, and always more than anything we can ever say about him.

And yet, some mystic-minded people do have a strong sense of God’s presence. They can achieve a one-ness with God that doesn’t need understanding or imagining or even explaining, because they actually experience him. [i]

Today is Trinity Sunday, and one question that’s often asked is how one God can possibly include three persons.

Sr Lucia, one of the three children who met Our Lady at Fatima, said that we will only really understand the Trinity when we get to heaven. However, if we pick an orange, we can remove the skin and take out the seeds which can be grown, and this leaves us with the sections we can eat.

If in a single orange, then, there are three separate things with three separate purposes, why should we be astonished to find three distinct Persons – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – in one God? [ii]

Now, the Bible doesn’t actually use the word ‘Trinity’, but it does recognise each of the three divine Persons. At Pentecost, for example, Jesus says to his disciples, ‘if you love me, you’ll keep my commandments, and I’ll ask the Father, and he’ll give you another Advocate (the Holy Spirit) to be with you always’ (Jn.14:15).  

As well, at Jesus’ baptism, the Father speaks from heaven and the Spirit descends on Jesus in the form of a dove (Mk.1:10-11).

So, we accept the doctrine of the Trinity. But even though we find it hard to fully express the nature of God, we can still learn something of him from the Scriptures.

Our first reading today, for example, tells us that God is ‘a God of tenderness and compassion, slow to anger, and rich in kindness and faithfulness.’ And our Gospel says that ‘God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost but may have eternal life’

Both of these readings remind us that the essence of God is love (1Jn.4:8).

This has immense implications for us in our daily lives, for God is not the cold and distant figure many people think he is.

Indeed, the Trinity is a community of perpetual love, and by reaching out to us, as he has, through the Incarnation of Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit, God is constantly trying to draw us into his loving communion.

The Canadian theologian Ron Rolheiser says we don’t need academic books to make God real in our lives, for God is a flow of relationships to be experienced in community, family, parish, friendship, and hospitality. And when we live inside these relationships, God lives inside us and we live inside God.

Rolheiser adds that the most pernicious heresies that block us from properly knowing God are not those of formal dogma, but those of a culture of individualism that invite us to believe that we are self-sufficient, that we can have community and family on our own terms, and that we can have God without dealing with each other. For God is community – and only in opening our lives in gracious hospitality will we ever understand that. [iii]

It’s significant that we’ve all been made in God’s image and likeness, because just as the Father, Son and Spirit are united in love, so we are all meant to come together in our families and communities. Each member of the family or community, like each member of the Trinity, has a different role to play and unique talents to share, but we are all brought together in holy relationship.

We see this in the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Jesus didn’t rush about as we tend to do today – he spent 90% of his life living in quiet but loving domesticity. Similarly, when Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth, she didn’t rush away soon afterwards as so many of us do. Rather, she stayed for months, and in that time they talked, they laughed, they shared and reminisced, and they sat together in quiet reflection.

And when the disciples agreed to follow Jesus, they didn’t add this to all their other responsibilities. They dropped everything else so that they could live together in close communion.

The message of the Trinity is that we are not meant to be alone. We’re all called to live in close connection with those around us – our family, friends, neighbours and co-workers.

Like God in his Trinity, we are all designed for close communion with others.

And the more loving we are, the more Godlike we become

[i] Brian Gallagher, Taking God to Heart, St Pauls, Strathfield, 2008:59.

[ii] Sr Lucia, Calls from the Message of Fatima, 2008.