The slow and easy days of the summer holidays are coming to an end. Australia Day (or maybe the finals of the Australian Open tennis) unofficially marks the end of the summer break. This week our children will begin or return to school, and the familiar rhythm of weekly activities re-commences. On Tuesday, Australia Day, we have a brief pause before the full speed of 2016 comes zooming towards us.
It wasn’t until I lived overseas that I realised how Australian I was. Our view of the world is particular. And many travellers will know the joy of returning “home” despite the richness of encountering other places and people. Whether born here or having chosen to live here, we celebrate Australia as our “home”; that place where we feel most ourselves, a place of familiarity, ease and peacefulness. We look on this place with affectionate eyes because it is home.
It is for this reason that we need to be careful not to allow Australia Day to become a kind of parody, a celebration of Australian superficiality. By the end of Australia Day, a lot of jingoistic things will be said, meaningless sentiments will find their way into many a public speech, and the word “lucky” will be repeated unthinkingly over and over again. When Donald Horne wrote that Australia was “a lucky country” in 1964, he didn’t intend it as a statement of privilege but as an indictment of a country that had achieved significant social prosperity with so little ambition or creativity. Over half a century on, “the lucky country” is a badge worn with pride, oblivious to its original stinging claim.
If we were to look at our nation through realistic eyes rather than dreamy affection, we will see beyond the things that we appreciate and value – and beyond those things that we wish were true. To stop there is to sell our nation short. We will notice the places where our nation is hurting. We will see those who have been left behind or left out of our prosperity. We will see the pain of the First Peoples of this land and acknowledge the urgent task of recognition and reconciliation needed to heal the wound of dispossession. We will become uneasy and disconcerted by a rise of racist attitudes and signs of disharmony and remind ourselves how important it is that we all work together to maintain a multicultural society where all can find a place. We will recognise our insecurities and consider fairer and more just ways of responding to refugees and asylum seekers, and particularly children. We will look to the land and explore ways of living more sustainably in such a diverse environment. We will ask ourselves what it means to be “Australian” in a globalised world.
Maintaining and enhancing the common wealth of our society has very little to do with luck. It has to do with considering the task of citizenry, and embracing our social responsibility towards the common good. In amongst all the green and gold and fireworks, we will also celebrate Australia Day as followers of Jesus Christ. In this regard, our first task is thankfulness, not for our luck or good fortune, but in acknowledgement and appreciation of the gifts given to us by God. Our second task is to re-commit ourselves to the Christian vision of the common good by attending to our communal responsibility of using the gifts of God as the true foundation of the “Great Southern Land of the Holy Spirit”.
Enjoy Australia Day and come gather together for Mass at 9am.
|Jun 24, 2016||3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time 24.01.2016||Listen||Download|