Seven times seven


Seven times seven

I don’t remember Australia Day in 1949. But Mum told me it was a sunny day, tennis day in Lake Grace. I was nine weeks old, and rapidly losing weight through pyloric stenosis. It was also a Sunday, so at 3 p.m., the tennis players walked from the courts still dressed in their whites to Saint Anne’s Church (now the church hall) for the baptism of three babies, including me.

I assume my Dad was there, supporting Mum. Dad was not a churchgoer. I didn’t know what Dad believed until, when I was about 10, he crouched in a ploughed paddock, picked up a handful of soil, and poured it slowly back onto the ground. Dad believed in the beauty and fecundity of nature.

Driving around the farm, he would point out with reverence birds in their trees, lovingly remarking on their colours and their habits, or showing us handsome plants and lizards, or pretty patterns of clouds.

The baptism ceremony went well. It was only after, as the certificates were being signed, that my most recent food reappeared. Pyloric stenosis causes projectile vomiting, and the milk and blood regurgitated can be sprayed up to 3 metres. My vomit splashed over the certificates and the ink smudged on my baptism certificate remains as evidence of the power of projectile vomiting.

Splattered milk and smudged ink, however, did not camouflage the importance of the day: this was the day God promised that God’s Spirit would hold me for ever.

I do have a memory of my confirmation in St Mildred’s in Tenterden. It was the first time I wore long pants, long scratchy grey serge pants. I was just 12 years and 9 days old on November 21 in 1960, and Mum asked me to wear my uniform for Christ Church Grammar School where I was starting as a boarder in the New Year.

Bishop Hawkins preached on duty to Mother, duty to Mother Church and duty to Mother Country (in 1960, that still meant England, I think). Mum reminded me frequently, with a small smile, of Bishop Ralph’s sermon.

My Nan had prepared me for my Confirmation. Every Wednesday of my Grade 7 year, during Scripture period she and I withdrew into the boys’ shelter shed where Nan walked me through the Catechism, explaining how God had come into the world as Jesus Christ, and still loves us through the Holy Spirit.

Even as a 12-year-old, I wondered how much the bishop’s sermon had to do with the Christian faith that Nan had expounded. I voted for Nan!

After the rite of Confirmation, I received Holy Communion for the first time. The power of the bread and wine grows over time. In 1960, I took it because Nan and Mum told me so. But now, after maybe 5,000 occasions on which I have received this sacrament, I strongly appreciate its power. Through it, God turns my natural laziness into love for others and gratitude for all God gives.

I marvel at the variety of places God has come to me in the Eucharist: in churches like St Mary’s in Tambellup, and Christ Church in Claremont and St David’s in Applecross, and, in the past two years, at St Brendan’s in Warnbro: with splendid music in St George’s Cathedral; in the Chapel at Christ Church Grammar School with its stunning backdrop of Freshwater Bay; in the bush accompanied by birdsongs; in Italian and French in historical Roman Catholic churches in Europe; in Uniting Churches, with the Baptists and Churches of Christ; in French in St Thomas’s in Beau-Bassin, Mauritius; cramped onto tiny tables in hospital; in our homes and the homes of friends and parishioners; chaotically in nursing homes; so many places, so much grace.  

It was almost as if I was ticking off the seven sacraments: Baptism and Holy Communion are the two ‘Dominical sacraments’. Our Lord (Noster Dominus) had commanded those two explicitly. According to the catholic theology Anglicans inherited, confirmation was the first of five lesser sacraments. So that made three of the seven!

At the end of 1969, my fourth year at University, I was in major pain and waiting both for my final exams and surgery on my back. As a resident at Saint George’s College, I was part of the Chapel community. Chaplain Ian George prepared a group of us over several weeks for the Sacrament of Holy Unction. We learned how Jesus had healed the sick, and how James had told sick people to call the elders for the laying on of hands and the administration of oil.

We learned how that developed into Holy Unction and how, sadly, Unction was associated more frequently with the dying. It should be a robust prayer for healing in all situations – including mine.

So Ian George duly laid hands on my head with prayer and anointed my forehead with blessed oil. As I knelt at the communion rail in the Chapel, I felt a heavy load lifted: I knew, whatever happened in my surgery, God healed me. It was a wonderful boost to my faith and the confidence it gave me never left through weeks of rehabilitation.  

In 1975, after three years of study, Archbishop Geoffrey Sambell ordained me: deacon on February 9 and priest on Advent Sunday, November 30. Before each ordination, the candidates, Chris Albany, Len Firth, Peter McArthur, Geoff Newby and I, were sequestered for a four-day retreat. These intense days of prayer and addresses invited us deeper into the mystery of God.  

A pattern was developing: preparation, then sacrament. I was beginning to learn that these sacraments were not so much about empowering me (though they do have that effect); sacraments are much more a statement about God and how God continues to work through frail fallible human beings.

In 1978, I fell in love with my dearest Rae. We were engaged on August 6, the feast of the Transfiguration, when everything changes for the better. Our parish priest, Michael Pennington and Archbishop Sambell both played their part in preparing Rae and me for the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony.

The Archbishop married us on December 9 in 1978 in St David’s Church in Ardross. Michael Pennington celebrated the Nuptial Eucharist. Our families and friends crowded St David’s. Two of our friends played Grieg’s ‘Wedding Day at Troldhaugen’ and Bach’s ‘Wachet Auf’ for oboe and organ as our wedding present. Aunty Jean Witham presented us with her stunning tapestry version of Michelangelo’s ‘Last Supper’. (It still hangs on my study wall.) Our wedding was another declaration of God’s determination to go on loving us.

Rae and I were not content just with the sacraments we had received. In 1979, we started our formation as Franciscan tertiaries and were professed in 1983. It’s not hard to draw a straight line between my Dad’s celebration of nature and me grasping St Francis’ appreciation of all creation.

It is not my tradition to make a formal regular confession; even so, I have used Sacrament Number 7, the Sacrament of Reconciliation, on many occasions. It, too, is a wonderful affirmation that, whatever stupidity and evil I have done – and I have been stupid and evil at times (often simultaneously)  – God still loves me. God is still prepared to treat me as though I had a clean slate, just like I had before I vomited all over my baptism certificate.

What is God like?


What is God like?

Reflection on the Gospel Luke 20:27-38

One of my favourite lecturers at theological college was Max Thomas. Dr Thomas was an expert in Orthodox spirituality, and he often enthused about how much Anglicans can learn from our Eastern brothers and sisters.

Max was closely involved in our student lives. Most days he chose to eat lunch with us where his presence provoked lively theological discussion. Even though Max was way ahead of us intellectually, he still needed that kind of interaction.

A year or two after my return to WA, Max was appointed Bishop of Wangaratta in Victoria. It was not a happy appointment. We heard that he was an idiosyncratic bishop, and his clergy were not too sure how to take him.

For example, when he visited a parish on a Sunday, he chose not to robe and lead the service, but to sit in the back row and take notes on the sermon. He told me that the biggest fault in the sermons he heard was that they were not theological enough. By this, Max meant that the preachers did not explore and explain what God is like.

Sermon critique, however, was perhaps not the best form of pastoral care!

Max would have rejoiced in today’s gospel with its lively theological discussion between Jesus and the Sadducees. In this discussion, they refer to the Bible. They discuss subjects relevant to everyday life. Above all, they argue about what God is like.

The Sadducees try to wedge Jesus with their question. If Jesus tries to answer their question, ‘Whose wife is she?’, he will end up contradicting himself because the question is phrased in such a way that there can be no logical answer. If he denies that the seven brothers and their serial wife will be ‘in the resurrection’, the Sadducees have trapped Jesus into agreeing with them that there is no life after death.

But Jesus avoids the wedge. The real issue, he says, is not about sex in the afterlife. The real issue is not even about the afterlife. Nor is the real issue about the extent of the Bible, whether the first five books are the only authoritative ones, as the Sadducees claimed, or whether the prophets and the writings also speak to us of God.

The real issue, says Jesus, is God and what God is like. (Max Thomas’s question!) God’s life and influence extend beyond any of those things. The ‘God of the living’ is the living God, and we all live in God. The patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob live, because God gives them life and goes on giving them life. ‘Before Abraham was, I AM’, Jesus claimed (John 8:58).

There is no limit to God. God transcends anything human minds can comprehend, and we human beings are embraced by God’s ongoing life. The issue in this passage is not life after death, but life with God, ongoing life, life now and for ever.  The difference is crucial.

Three attempts to catch Jesus out

The heart of God


Read Wisdom 6:1-11

“He will search out your works and inquire into your plans.” (Wisdom 6:3b NRSV)

Deep under Duke University in a series of fluorescent-lit rooms, lies a whole different world. If you enter from the Divinity School library and take the elevator down to these “stacks”, you wander from room to room. Eventually, you leave the Divinity School library and meet the subterranean rooms of the main University library. In total, the Duke libraries contain 6 million volumes.

On a few occasions, I spent an afternoon searching for books and journals in this lower world. Because it is so vast, I found myself losing my orientation. I was drawn more and more deeply into the search: from this book, to this author, to this journal, to this Dewey number. It was a totally immersive experience: I felt pleasantly swallowed by the library.

As Christians, we seek the same immersive relationship with God, not necessarily through books, but through our lives, reflection on Scripture and conversations with fellow believers. We are drawn more deeply into who God is, experiencing more fully God’s love, God’s joy and God’s compassion for ourselves and others. We even experience a sense of dislocation, like wandering in the underground parts of Duke Library, never quite sure of the God who is ultimately beyond our understanding.

The writer of Wisdom reminds us of the surprising truth that this deep searching is reciprocated. Not only do we have the opportunity to search into the depths of God, but God searches us out and “inquires into our plans”. God loves us so dearly that he wants to know us through and through, intimately and passionately. God immerses Godself in us, roaming in our lives and tenderly exploring each part as he finds it. And as God discovers more and more who we are, so God’s searching love transforms this, then that, aspect of our lives. 

As we search the depths of God, and God searches our depths, so we become more like God, forgiven and free to be loving, joyful and compassionate.

God is open to our searching. God invites our immersion

in God’s life. God rejoices in our deepening understanding of his nature. We too must decide to open ourselves to God’s searching, knowing that there is no part of us that God cannot redeem, and knowing too that God is determined to know as and to transform us.

Thought: God seeks to know us so he can love us more deeply. We seek to know God so we can love God and all God’s creatures more deeply.

Prayer: Open our hearts, God of Wisdom, and come into our lives and change us into your glory. Amen.

The edited post as published in the Upper Room is at https://www.upperroom.org/devotionals/en-2022-03-26t

Transfigured

Our face completely mirroring his features.


Paul Claudel, Commentary on the Gospel according to Saint Mark (Mk 9:2-10)

Transfiguration:15th Century ikon, Theophanes the Greek, Gallery Tretiakov

Mark 9:2-10

Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus.

As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead could mean.

  • New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

………………..

“Let us go up to Tabor with him: Jesus is ready. The host is going to be elevated for an instant, we come to the heart

of the Sacred Mysteries.

The perfect man in the Christ fulfils his perfect

appearing,

And by themselves, his feet are separated

from the earth.

The grain is hard, the grape is swollen, it is summer. The time has come when God at last crowns

His entire creature.

Human beings are perfect animals, Jesus is the

consummate human being,

Every living form in Him attains His paragon

supreme.

His clothing becomes like snow,

his flesh shines like light.

The Law and the Prophets suddenly appear in his

presence.

Like the iris where the sun is reflected, and like the Son

when the Father is present:

“You are my well-loved Son to whom I have given my

consent.”

Do we understand that at this moment our Brother

has changed us?

His face, his eyes, – his heart; – his feet that

we have touched?

Our face completely mirroring

His features.”

  • Paul Claudel, Poetic Breviary, Paris, LGF, the “Livre de Poche” collection, 1971, pages 153-155.
  • Translation : Ted Witham tssf, 2022
  • Paul Claudel (1868-1955) was a French Roman Catholic playwright, poet, exegete and diplomat.

Never war


Make love, not war.

Make love, not war.

Make love, not war.

This is the first and great commandment – at least, as it applies to nation-states and other tribal entities.

We have been so quick to fall victim to the narrative of Ukraine the victim and Russia the aggressor. We prayed this morning at church only for Ukraine. Even if it is the simplest case of Ukraine: victim and Russia: aggressor, Russia still needs praying for. We pray for its leaders that they stay their hand, that they make love, not war.

But we know the situation is more complex than Ukraine: victim and Russia: aggressor. That may be a summary of the politics, but there appear to be some in Ukraine wanting war, wanting to show how great the Ukrainian resistance will be. There are Ukrainians hiding trembling in the Metro and there are Ukrainians actively hunting Russians as ‘the enemy’.

And in Russia, think of those braving the Kremlin and protesting in the streets of Moscow and St Petersburg against their leaders. Think of the Russian legislators compromised by their allegiance to Russia and their reluctance to be the aggressors. Think of those in Putin’s inner circle who he has bullied into support for the war. And Putin himself: He is a brutal dictator, but does he not need prayer too?  He is a human being.

It’s complex, as all human relationships are complex.

So, I protest. I protest about praying for Ukraine as if the ‘blame’ is all on Russia’s side and not on both. I protest that our support for Ukraine is so easily subverted into supporting Ukraine’s war effort.

War can never be the answer. Even the great prosecutor of war Winston Churchill said, ‘Jaw-jaw is always better than war-war.’  

We need to pray. We do. So, let us pray for all caught up in this conflict. And above all, let us pray for peace.

Blessings

Being blessed, for Jesus, is owning your need. You are blessed if you know you need God’s mercy and safety, because God is present with love and protection.


Matthew 5:1-12

The bombers fly over. At this height, you can see that some are your Government’s air force, others come from one of the superpowers, Russia or the U.S.A., both, as far as you are concerned, as bad as the other. The noise and the dust when a bomb hits the apartment block next to yours is overwhelming. You utter a prayer of thanksgiving that, this time, you have survived. As soon as the drone of the bombers’ engines disappears, you sprint down into the street, looking for your brother, his wife and children. All are gone. Grief fills you like rushing water.

Devastation in Syria – AFP Photo

You go back to your apartment. Your family is there, thank God, but there is no water or electricity. The shops are bombed out, so there is no food. You pack up what you can, photos, documents, a few clothes, in a couple of suitcases and, with your family, start the long walk out of your city towards somewhere, anywhere, that it is safer.

That evening, you take out your tattered Bible and read Matthew 5:1-12. It takes a moment for you to realise that Jesus is directly addressing you: you, grieving the violent deaths of loved ones; you, with your nice life collapsed into rubble; you, without a home or a country you can call your own; you, you are blessed.

Matthew wrote his gospel for a community just like this. The Romans sacked Jerusalem in A.D. 70, killed many of the inhabitants, razed the beautiful Temple to the ground, and hounded the citizens out of the city. Jewish refugees spread out across the Empire looking for somewhere safer, the tiny group of Christians swept along with them.

Matthew believes Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount applies to these shell-shocked refugees with no possessions or place of their own.  They are blessed. Jesus turns upside down the usual idea of blessing. Normally, we think of blessings as things we have – family, personal talents, possessions, a peaceful life – but Jesus re-defines the blessed as poor in spirit, mourning, meek, lacking justice, wanting to make peace, above all, persecuted.

The Temple destroyed – fallen stones from the southwestern wall.

Being blessed, for Jesus, is owning your need. You are blessed if you know you need God’s mercy and safety, because God is present with love and protection. You are blessed if you know that you need to make peace with the world around you, because your neighbours too want to reach out and make peace with you. You are blessed if you know that you don’t have it all and God and God’s creation will provide for you.

For most of history, most of the world has lived in poverty and insecurity. 21st Century Australia, with our prosperity and peace, is an exception. Because we have so much, the power of the Beatitudes doesn’t register strongly with us.

I take these words of Jesus as an invitation, firstly, to enter imaginatively into the lives of the many who are fleeing danger, the many who are hungry, the many who have no shelter. They are more blessed than I am, according to Jesus: is there something I can do to incarnate that blessing for them? Can I use my power and prosperity to help provide safety, food, water, housing?

Secondly, I take Jesus’ words as a warning to me: in my comfortable life, I become complacent. I, too, can learn to see that I cover up my real needs with material comfort. I ask God to show my where are my needs, my lacks, my shortcomings, so that I can learn gratitude for all his blessings.

Love, only Love

Love God. Love your neighbour. In this volatile environment, the Great Commandment asks new action from me.


Matthew 22:34-40

Over the last couple of decades I have lost my confidence in taking part in a robust debate. I fear that my opponent and I will not be able to learn from one another, let alone find a solution that benefits both of us.

I have different conversations about live sheep exports with my farming family and with my animal activist acquaintances. Apart from a vague desire not to be cruel to animals, I find it frustratingly difficult to get one ‘side’ to hear the viewpoint of another.

And to have a conversation on climate change with people who disagree with you is bound to end in shouting or tears; yet this conversation, perhaps more than any other, is where we need to listen to opposing views, to learn from them, and to find win-win remedies.

We are learning how Facebook and other social media divide us even further. They manipulate us into an echo chamber where we hear only our views reverberate around us. They disgust us with outbursts of hateful trolling which cement our dislike of the trolls.

Jesus has a radical prescription for a society divided like ours: ‘Love God with all your strength… and love your neighbour as yourself.’ The two parts of the Great Commandment come from the Hebrew Scriptures (Deuteronomy 6:4-6 and Leviticus19:18) and were familiar to Jesus’ hearers.

The Jewish teachers defined love not as a feeling, but as an active commitment to better the lives of others. On that, they and Jesus agreed.

Jesus teaches in the Temple – St Vladmir Orthodox Icon

But Jesus made two profound changes to the Summary of the Law: firstly, he linked loving God with loving neighbour so that they always come together. Love God and you inevitably love your neighbour. Loving your neighbour is a way of loving God.

Secondly, he extended the idea of ‘neighbour’ beyond the circle of family and everyday friends. For Jesus, a neighbour is anyone you meet, anyone near you. It even includes your enemy!

For many Jews, that was a challenge too far. How could you love the Roman occupiers? It’s an affront for us too: how can we love the terrorist who beheads a teacher? How can we love the drunk driver who kills our daughter?

Love God. Love your neighbour. In this volatile environment, the Great Commandment asks new action from me. Loving the neighbour who disagrees with me means taking the effort to maintain a strong connection with her or him, building a friendship on things other than our disagreement.

Loving my neighbour means being careful about joining ‘tribes’. I resist the pressure to join a political party, not because I want to reduce its influence, but because my joining will be perceived as taking sides and not being open to new truth.

Loving my neighbour means I take great precautions around Facebook. It is seriously addictive; and it is designed to divide people from each other. It may be that I should close my account.

Loving God means seeing the humanity in people who disagree with me. It means being loved by God so that I may have the grace to love radically as Jesus did.

Whose Image Do You Bear?

…we are to be the images of God in the world. People see us and should see something, some aspect, some likeness of God.


Matthew 22:15-22

To consolidate his power, the Roman Emperor had coins minted with his likeness engraved on it. These reminded the people to whom honour was due. Like his forebears, Tiberias, the Emperor at Jesus’ time, believed that he was divine, and proclaimed this on his coins. Each silver denarius was a command, not only to pay taxes, but also to worship the Emperor as god.

So it’s a surprise in today’s story when his enemies were setting a trap for Jesus, that one of them produced a denarius. A Jew who took seriously the commandments would not possess such a coin, and certainly not produce it in the Temple. The coin was a ‘graven image’, a blasphemous object.

As soon as Jesus asked. ‘Whose image is it, and whose title?’ (v. 20), a Jew would immediately recall both the scripture forbidding graven images (Exodus 20:4) and the passage teaching that human beings are made in God’s image (Genesis 1:26).

So Jesus turns the question back onto the questioners. ‘Whose image is imprinted on you?’ Is it the Emperor’s, or is it God’s? Whom do you call on as God?

Because God had beat the Emperor to it. Every human being is like a coin. Each one of us bears God’s image. God sets us into circulation, and we should both recognise our family likeness in each other and acknowledge God as our common authority. Our task is like that of a coin which recognises the value of human labour. We too are to recognise the value of human beings in our interactions.

To be like circulating coins, we cannot remain pure and separate from the world. We must ‘pay back to the Emperor what belongs to the Emperor’ (Matthew 22:21). For example, whether we like it or not, a sizeable proportion of our taxes buys weapons for war. When we buy a shirt, it is difficult not to exploit a worker in Bangladesh. We circulate in the world and are caught up in its compromises.

But through all this, we ‘pay God what is God’s’ (Matthew 22:21), we are to be the images of God in the world. People see us and should see something, some aspect, some likeness of God.

Heartfelt obedience?

If someone in authority shows empathy and cares, then we are more likely to want to do their will.


Matthew 21:23-32

None of us likes to be on the receiving end of direct orders. Even when the order comes from a legitimate authority, the moment the order is delivered, we bristle. Our autonomy – to do what we like when we like – is threatened.

Even in institutions which function by giving and following orders like the military, the wise officer only gives direct orders in the context of a shared mission: this order is for us, rather than for you.

We recognise in ourselves the two sons ordered to work in the vineyard. We too can say ‘Yes’ to an order and then work out how to get out of doing it. We too can say ‘No’, and then grudgingly turn to obedience. In our fear and timidity, we can also find a dozen other ways of passive-aggressive obedience or disobedience.

Jesus asks, ‘Which of the two did the will of the Father?’ (Matthew 21:31a) His listeners sided with the son who obeyed after initially refusing. But his was the ‘least worst’ option. Neither of the sons responded with a heartful ‘Yes’ and went out and diligently worked the vineyard. That would have been their father’s hope.

The father, the owner of this vineyard, got it wrong. God is not like this father. This father needs lessons in human resource management and parenting. Jesus is teaching a better way of leading than giving direct orders. If someone in authority shows empathy and cares, then we are more likely to want to do their will. This kind of authority neither the ‘chief priests [nor] the elders of the people’ (v. 23) could understand.

God generally does not give direct orders. God builds relationship and empathy. God invites and calls. God knows what we are like. God knows we trip over our autonomy when told what to do.  God always leaves us room for a free response.

We as Christian leaders can do better than the owner of this vineyard: we can lead by love and example, as Jesus did. People will respond according to the authenticity they see in us.

As Christian followers, our challenge is to discern God’s will and try to do it in heartfelt obedience.

Day Labour

This is a moment in history when we should stop treating people just as expedient labour and build a more just and caring community.


Matthew 20:1-16

For me to really get it, I had to be taken at 6 a.m. to the Post Office in Durham, North Carolina. The sun was up, and the day was already hot and humid. On the Post Office steps groups of men, about 30 in total, stood around, waiting. My guide said, ‘These are undocumented Mexicans. Some people joke that they are people who don’t exist.’

Eventually a farm pick-up truck drove by, pointed to two or three of the men, ‘You! You! You!’ and the men who were beckoned scrambled onto the back of the truck. Some minutes later, another truck arrived, and the same procedure followed. The rest of the men waited, waited. At about 7:30 a.m., the street began to wake up as workers on their way to air-conditioned offices glared at the men. It was time to disperse. Those remaining were unlucky that day.

These men were all desperate to feed themselves and their families. The picked workers would be given cash, $15 or $20, at the end of a ten-hour shift in the oppressive humidity of summer. This was day labour, southern U.S. style. I imagine that, 30 years on from then, day labour is still employed in much the same way.

The men were treated, not as human beings with needs, but as what they were worth to the employers. They were exploited.

Post Office, Durham NC

Jesus tells the story of an employer who goes back again and again throughout the day to the Post Office steps, employing as many workers as he can, and then insisting on paying them according to their need, not his economic advantage. No wonder he encountered resistance – from the workers who had ‘borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat’ (Matthew 20:12b), and most probably from other employers too.

This employer’s actions seem revolutionary. What he had done was to defy the economic realities which ignore the dignity of human beings. He treated the workers with worth and generosity.

Today’s news reminds us that Covid-19 has made many more people vulnerable, looking for a little work just to survive. Let us bear them in prayer and offer a practical hand to them when we can.

We also note that there are executives who ‘earn’ annual salaries of millions of dollars. These amounts cannot equate to value for work done, nor do they relate to people’s needs. Our economic system is currently not producing a fair society.

Eventually the world will get through this pandemic. Let us ask our leaders to re-build a world where people are not grudgingly de-valued, but where every person is treated with worth and generosity. We should encourage the Government to continue and expand programs like JobKeeper and JobSeeker. We should invite politicians to seriously look at new ways of caring for every member of society like, for example, Universal Basic Income schemes.

This is a moment in history when we should stop treating people just as expedient labour and build a more just and caring community.