Semper Quaerens

A Great Physician Has Come

From the Office of Readings for the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time:

So, brethren, we had no good works, but only evil. But although men’s deeds were such, God in his mercy did not abandon men. He sent his Son to redeem us, not with gold or silver, but at the cost of shedding his blood; the spotless Lamb was led to the slaughter on behalf of the tainted sheep – if, indeed, they were merely tainted and not completely infected. We received this grace. Let is live in a manner befitting the grace which we have received, so as not to spurn such a favour. A great physician has come to us and forgiven all of our sins. If we prefer to be ill again, we shall not only harm ourselves but be ungrateful to that physician.

From the sermons of St Augustine.

This Blessed Harbinger

From the Office of Readings for the Memorial of the Passion of St John the Baptist, Martyr:

This blessed harbinger of the Lord’s birth, teaching and death, displayed against his foes a valour worthy of heaven’s regard. As the scripture tells us, ‘Although he suffered torments in men’s eyes, he has a sure hope of immortality.’ Accordingly we celebrate the day of his birth with festive joy, for he made it sacred to us by his own suffering, made it resplendent with the brightness of his blood. Justly do we honour with spiritual joy the memory of the man who stamped with the seal of martyrdom the witness he gave on the Lord’s behalf.

From the homilies of St Bede the Venerable.

Frankly Friday: 28th August, 2015

The next election campaign was kicked up a gear during the last few days. You can tell because the question of tax cuts has been raised by members of the current Federal Government.

The Federal Treasurer has, in recent days, announced that Australian taxpayers should be given the opportunity to benefit from paying less in personal income tax. Today the current Prime Minister of Australia has announced that he would be taking tax cuts for the Australian people to the next election.

Which makes one wonder if the much touted ‘budget emergency’ is now over. Or are we now seeing the truth, that there was never a budget emergency in the first place apart from in the rhetoric that the Liberal/National Party Coalition was prepared to engage in as part of their quest for power.

Unfortunately both the Prime Minister and Treasurer were a little light on some important details, like how much the tax cuts will be, what other revenue measures (also known as new taxes) will be introduced to offset the lost revenue or, alternatively, what cuts to spending will be made as a result of the decreased revenue coming from person income tax. After all, the current Federal Government would surely wish to maintain its commitment to balanced budgets, not living beyond one’s means, and ensuring that more people are given a chance to stop be leaners and become lifters.

It’s almost farcical that the current Federal Government, given its past rhetoric on fiscal responsibility and proper financial management, would be raising the possibility of decreasing revenue at a time when our budget deficit and debt levels have increased under their watch, when an increasing number of people in Australia are subjected to the withdrawal of financial and other means of support that has been withdrawn by the current Federal Government, and, significantly, the revelations surrounding politicians’ raiding of the public purse via the parliamentary ‘entitlements’ scheme.

The announcing of tax cuts – without any details – so far out from the next Federal election is a purely political game, an attempt on the part of the current Federal Government to buy back popular support that has been lost by the constant debacle that is the implosion of the Liberal/National Party Coalition. It is very clearly a partisan move and, no doubt, the vast majority of the Australian populace will see it for what it is. At least that is certainly my hope.

My fear is that far too many won’t.

Stopping the Border Force

The newly formed Australian Border Force (ABF) has suffered its first defeat…at the hands of Melburnians!

With much fanfare, the ABF had announced it was joining with Victoria Police in a street operation in the Melbourne CBD that was going to crack down on visa fraud. In a dramatic example of bureaucratic overreach, this was going to be performed by random identification and visa checks while out on the streets of the southern Australian city. Had the this taken place a new paramilitary law-enforcement organisation, dressed in very dark uniforms, would have been free to roam Australian streets proactively stopping people and demanding identification.

But it’s all gone awry.

After a brouhaha on social media and other places, the citizenry of Melbourne objecting to this invasion of civil liberties, the ABF quickly ‘clarified’ that they would only be dealing with people referred to them by Victoria Police, which seriously begged the question of why the ABF, in their very dark uniforms, needed to be out on the streets with the Victoria Police colleagues. It sounded like – and in my opinion was – a dramatic overreaction, placing a paramilitary response to a relatively minor police operation.

In the end, in light of the whole confusion about the original purpose of the operation, Victoria Police have now cancelled the entire operation.

Writing for the ABC’s The Drum website, JR Hennessy had this to say about the whole debacle:

The whole farce points to the absurdity of Australia’s current national security apparatus, which since its baffling rebrand in July has operated as much as an exercise in barrel-chested posturing as an actual protector of national safety.

What exactly was the ABF hoping to eradicate by having uniformed officers parade around Melbourne checking people’s visas? Unlike previous immigration officials, Border Force officers are kitted out in full military-style uniforms, permitted to carry firearms, and allowed to detain people. The claim that the operation was intended to promote “a secure and cohesive society” seems particularly contrived when the solution was to be a paramilitary force striding defiantly around Melbourne.

It also raised the ugly question of who exactly the ABF was going to be targeting in their campaign against visa fraud. Australians of a broad range of ethnicities posted photos of themselves with their Australian passports on Twitter in defiance of what they saw as a steadily encroaching system of racial profiling in our national security enforcement. Their fears were likely well-founded – after all, we’ve not heard much from the Government on the issue of visa over stayers from Great Britain and the United States as threats to Australian security. For the ABF to make so much noise about boat people, foreign fighters and Islamic extremism and then claim that their operation in Melbourne was to be subject to police oversight is a hard pill to swallow.

It’s easy to dismiss this kind of militant affectation as the death rattle of a desperate administration who have only national security to prop up their fading credibility in the eyes of the electorate. But there’s more here – we’re looking at the downward bend of a long arc toward a more authoritarian character in Australian law enforcement.

The old adage about the trade-off between security and liberty wilts in the face of this eminently Australian manifestation of the security state. At least Melbourne sent the message that it wouldn’t put up with this macho vision of border security.

I couldn’t agree more!


Prayerfulness…is the capacity to walk in touch with God through everything in life. It is the internal awareness that God is with me – now, here, in this, always. It is an awareness of the continuing presence of God. It is my dialogue with the living God who inhabits my world… (p 46)

Joan Chittister, The Breath of the Soul: Reflections on Prayer (Mulgrave, VIC: John Garratt Publishing, 2009). ISBN: 9781920682057.

The Light of The Truth

From the Office of Readings for the Memorial of St Augustine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church:

Urged to reflect upon myself, I entered under your guidance the innermost places of my being; but only because you had become my helper was I able to do so. I entered, then, and with the vision of my spirit, such as it was, I saw the incommutable light far above my spiritual ken and transcending my mind: not this common light which every carnal eye can see, nor any light of the same order; but greater, as though this common light were shining much more powerfully, far more brightly, and so extensively as to fill the universe. The light I saw was not the common light at all, but something different, utterly different, from all those things. Nor was it higher than my mind in the sense that oil floats on water or the sky is above the earth; it was exalted because this very light made me, and I was below it because by it I was made. Anyone who knows truth knows this light.

From the Confessions of St Augustine.

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