MASS CELEBRATED BY ARCHBISHOP DENIS HART AT SAINT PATRICK'S CATHEDRAL, MELBOURNE, ON SUNDAY, 18TH MARCH 2012 AT 11.00 A.M.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Many people are asking is there light in the world after September 11th or after Bali? Why such hatred, such bloodshed, such tears? These have been part of the human story. And yet Nicodemus comes by night to Jesus and finds light and he has to live this light by putting the truth into action.
We see the Cross of Christ as the great instrument of light and life and as we call to mind our sins we remember there is room for growth and being made new. If we believe, we can have eternal life.
Let us call to mind our sins.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
During the Depression of the 1930s a boat captain managed to make a modest living by piloting his boat up and down the Mississippi River. His boat was old and in poor repair. The engines were grimy, spewing forth soot and smoke, as the boat made its endless way up and down the river. The captain was untidy, his manner often surly and rude. As it happened once he met a travelling missionary, who introduced the captain to Christ and his Gospel; his conversion was profound and authentic.
One of the first things the Captain did was to clean up his boat and repair its engines. The deck and deck chairs were freshly painted, all the brass fixtures were polished. His personal appearance and demeanour were transformed. Clean shaven and with a smile he greeted his customers who remarked about the pleasant changes. In reply, the captain said, "I have got a new glory and it shines out in all I do. That is what Christ does for a person, he gives him a glory."
Saint Paul reminds the Ephesians that God loved us with so much love that he was generous with mercy. If we are dead in sin he has brought us to life. That goodness is ongoing and that is why the Jews wanted always to remember the importance of belief in Christ.
Notice too the comparison between the serpent which the Jews lifted up in the desert and Christ lifted up on the cross. One a small indication, the other, Jesus, a great sign and reality that what he did on the cross is not just a sign, it does something, it forgives us our sins.
We can stand by and read the words of the Gospel. God loves 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. Or, the Son of Man must be lifted up so that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him. The man who lives by the truth comes out into the light.
We can look at those things and we can say, yes that is very nice. There is a difference, however. God sending Jesus to save us was not just some wonderful deed that we looked at. It is something that saved us. It is not just a knowledge that we are saved, it is a living as a person who is saved. That is what Jesus wants of us as we seek forgiveness for our sins and live in newness of life.
God has not only given us a wonderful invitation, he has called us forth to a new life. Cardinal Newman speaks of us in these words, "Weak, ignorant, sinful, sorrowful man gains the knowledge of an infinitely merciful protector, a giver of all good, most powerful, the worker of all that is right; at what price? At the price of a mystery." "The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us and we saw his glory." And he laid down his life for the world. Wonder, thanksgiving, a resolve to walk with Christ, in belief and faith and love and deed. We do believe. We do want eternal life. We want to live with Christ!
+ Denis J. Hart,
ARCHBISHOP OF MELBOURNE