The Hill

Franciscan Readings for the Christian Year – gladly hosted by the Franciscan Friars (Holy Spirit Province) in Kedron, Australia. Have you seen the view from The Hill?

2013, Quinoa, and the Year of Living Sustainably!

Would you believe that the United Nations has declared that 2013 is the International Year of Water Cooperation and the Quinoa.   “Quinoa?” I heard myself ask nobody in particular, “what is quinoa?”   At first I had the image of a small, unremarkable and yet endangered variety of brown muskrat and decided that the UN were getting just a little bit too specific (or running out of ideas).  After some research, though, I learned that quinoa is a lot more realistically and symbolically important than one may think.

Quinoa is a type of cereal, maintained and harvested by Andean indigenous people for generations.  Their traditional practices have been in harmony with nature and in concert with the preservation of the environment around them.   This means that these people have preserved the staple food of quinoa for the present and future generations without causing damage to Mother Earth.   Such a simple grain, harvested in such a simple manner.

As we move into 2013, the quinoa provides us with perhaps a model of a commitment we can all make to a simpler and more harmonious future.  There is a richness is sustainability, security in knowing that, whilst these people may never have the sort of modern technology that I am using right now, their children will not starve, they will not suffer biological degradation as a result of ill-informed farming practices that one might see in the Philippines and East Timor, there is a sense of hope and continuity with the transmission, hopefully, of these agricultural skills.

Let the Word of God be our quinoa.  With the minimum of skill or technology, we can also cultivate the Word and allow it to be a leaven for generations to come.  we turn to St Francis who, for the last 800 years, has shown us the quinoa of a Gospel lived in a series of small deeds that go unnoticed.  We see in St Francis the quinoa of preaching in simple ways, without long tracts to edify and confuse the common person.  The marrow of the Gospel, our Rule of Life, in twelve short chapters can sustain generations of friars, provide food for our spiritual journey and cause us, in turn, to be harvesters of a great yield.

So, from this little grain comes a great lesson not unlike the mustard seed.  Let us bring this hope into our New Year!

Jars of Clay take a modern look at a traditional hymn, “It is Well”


Sunday, 30th December – THE HOLY FAMILY

Joseph, Mary and Jesus were a remarkable family in anyone’s books. An epic journey, a traumatic birth and then a swift escape to Egypt. Even in the infancy of Jesus, Mary and Joseph could conceivably had a few childrearing issues. Due to the cultus mariae, we can find it difficult to reconcile the Holy Family with a loving unit. However, with all the obstacles thrown their way, love must have kept them faithful and committed to the development of their son.

A reading from ‘The Assisi Compilation‘.
One day, a Minister of the brothers came to blessed Francis, who was then staying in that same place, in order to celebrate the feast of Christmas with him. It happened that the brothers of that place on Christmas day itself prepared the table elaborately because of that Minister, covering it with lovely white tablecloths which they obtained for the occasion, and vessels of glass for drinking.
Blessed Francis came down from the cell to eat and, when he saw, the table set on a dais and finely prepared, he went secretly and took the hat of a poor man who had arrived there that very day, and the staff he carried in his hand. He called one of his companions in a whisper and went outside the door of the hermitage, unnoticed by the other brothers of the house.
His companion closed the door, remaining next to it on the inside. Blessed Francis knocked on the door and he immediately opened it for him. He entered with his hat on his back and with staff in hand, like a pilgrim. When he came to the door of the house, where the brothers were eating, he called out to the brothers like a poor man, ‘For the love of the Lord God, give alms to this poor, sick pilgrim.’

That Minister and the other brothers recognised him at once. The Minister told him, ‘Brother, we are also poor and, because we are so many, we need these alms we are eating. But, for the love of that Lord you invoked, come into the house, and we will give you some of the alms which the Lord has given to us.’
When he came in and stood in front of the brothers’ table, the Minister gave him the bowl from which he was eating and some bread. Taking it, he sat down on the floor beside the fire, facing The brothers who sat at the elevated table. Sighing, he said to the brothers, ‘When I saw the table, finely and elaborately prepared, I considered that this was not a table of poor Religious, who go door-to-door each day. For more than other Religious, we should follow the example of poverty and humility in all things, because we have been called to this and have professed this before God and humanity. So, now it seems to me that I am seated like a brother.’

Lord, the poverty of the Holy Family is a reminder of the struggle of all families. May we support the members of our family and show our love for one another always. Amen.


Monday, 31 December – NEW YEARS EVE

A reading from ‘Vespers of the Lord’s Birth’ from ‘The Office of the Passion’, by Saint Francis.

Exult in God our help!
Shout to the Lord God, living and true, with cries of gladness! Because the Lord, the Most High, the Awesome, is the Great King over all the earth.
Because the Most Holy Father of heaven, our King before all ages,
sent his beloved Son from on high
and he was born of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
He called to me, You are my Father
and I will place him, my firstborn, as the Highest,
above all the kings of the earth. On that day, the Lord sent his mercy and at night his song.
This is the day the Lord has made,
let us rejoice and be glad in it.
For the Most Holy Child has been given to us
and has been born for us on the way
and placed in a manger
because he did not have a place in the inn.
Glory to the Lord God in the highest
and peace on earth to those of good will. Let the heavens rejoice and the earth exult,
let the sea and its fullness resound,
let the fields and all that is in them be joyful.
Sing a new song to the Lord,
sing to the Lord all the earth.
Because the Lord is great and worthy of praise,
he is awesome beyond all gods.
Give to the Lord, you families of nations,
give to the Lord glory and praise,
give to the Lord the glory due to his name.
Take up your bodies and carry his holy cross
and follow his most holy commands even to the end.

Lord, as we embark upon a brighter and more blessed 2013, help us to be people of optimism and creators of good fortune. Amen.


Single Post Navigation

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: