Homilies

17th Sunday of Ordinary Time

17th Sunday of Ordinary Time

MASS CELEBRATED BY ARCHBISHOP DENIS HART AT SAINT PATRICK’S CATHEDRAL, MELBOURNE, ON SUNDAY 27 JULY 2008 AT 11AM. INTRODUCTION Dear Brothers and Sisters, Today’s Mass points us towards eternal life - the great treasure that we attain by using the things of this world in accordance with God’s plan and by making Jesus Christ the Lord of our life. Our treasure is not something material, but something quite imperishable - to discover in Jesus the kingdom of heaven.  Christian life is centred not on self, but on Jesus Christ and for this reason we call to mind our sins and...

Third Catechesis for World Youth Day

ADDRESS GIVEN BY ARCHBISHOP DENIS HART AT THE THIRD CATECHESIS FOR WORLD YOUTH DAY ON FRIDAY, 18TH JULY 2008 AT 9.30 A.M., AT SAINT BRENDAN’S, ANNANDALE.

“Sent out into the world:  the Holy Spirit, the principal agent of mission.”

“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses.”
(Act 1:8)


My dear young friends,

What are you looking for from your life?  Is it security, happiness?  Is it the relief from injustice?  Is it that the world might become a more just and tolerant place?  Is it that you might make enough money to be very comfortable?  Is it to be happy and have a family?

Pope Benedict touches this theme when he asks in his Message for World Youth Day:  “Many young people view their lives with apprehension and raise many questions about their future. 

They anxiously ask: How can we fit into a world marked by so many grave injustices and so much suffering?  How should we react to the selfishness and violence that sometimes are seen to prevail?  How can we give the full meaning to life?  How can we help to bring it about that the fruits of the Spirit ‘love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control’ can fill this scarred and fragile world, the world of young people most of all?  On what conditions can the life-giving Spirit of the first creation and particularly the second creation, or redemption become the new soul of humanity?  Let us not forget that the greater gift of God and the gift of the Spirit of Jesus is the greatest of all, but so much greater is the world’s need to receive it and therefore the greater and more exciting is the Church’s mission to bear creditable witness to it.”  (Message, 7)

If we go back to the upper room, Jesus has ascended to his Father, Mary and the apostles are gathered there praying for the coming of the Holy Spirit.  They really are afraid that the Jews might come and get them now that Jesus was gone.  They were uncertain as to who the Holy Spirit was.  All they knew was that he is the Spirit of truth, he would stay with them.  Jesus also said:  “It is not for you to know the times and seasons which the Father has set by his own authority, but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and in Samaria and to the end of the earth.”  (Acts 1:6-8)

So the answer to our questions has to come from God’s Word.  We know that the Bible has survived, almost unique among literature, for two thousand years.  It has been inspiration to Christians because it has been a living experience of God reaching out into human lives and transformed them.  Just imagine, people in wartime have hidden from hostile armies, the apostles and Our Lady were hiding in the upper room from that situation and immediately there was transformation.  Peter and John and the other apostles went out baptising thousands. 

They were no longer afraid.  We too remember the words of Jesus used frequently in the Gospel:  “Do not be afraid little flock, for it has pleased our heavenly Father to give you the kingdom.”  For this reason, dear friends, it is important for us to remember that the Gospel does not only operate two thousand years ago.  It is just as real and practical in our time and it brings us forward to realise those great possibilities.

In this World Youth Day we are learning that holiness is a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  One of the fascinating things I have about knowing Jesus is the way in which he taps you on the shoulder and challeng

Second Catechesis for World Youth Day

ADDRESS GIVEN BY ARCHBISHOP DENIS HART AT THE SECOND CATECHESIS FOR WORLD YOUTH DAY ON THURSDAY, 17TH JULY 2008 AT 9.30 A.M., AT SYDNEY CONVENTION & EXHIBITION CENTRE, DARLING HARBOUR.

“The Holy Spirit, Soul of the Church”

“For in one Spirit, we were all baptised into one body;
and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.”
(1 Cor 12:13)


My dear young friends,

Let us stop and think for a moment, how many friends do you have?  How would you categorise them?  Some would be very close with very deep sharing, with whom we spend a lot of time.  Others would be people with the same ideals.  Others too might share a common recreation, in sport or artistic pursuits, or in activities that we undertake; they can be part of our life, but they are not our whole life.

Knowing that Jesus is our God we are seeking to love him.  The love of God is poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, the breath of life, the giver of God’s grace to us, we want to talk about who are our real friends.

When Jesus came down on earth he was born with Mary his Mother, Joseph his foster father, who was a carpenter, in a stable in surroundings of poverty.  Although he lived on earth for thirty-three years as God and man, he had twelve close followers, another seventy-two disciples and crowds of people who followed him because they hung on every word.  Still we could say that when Jesus as God fulfilled his mission to live and die for us, rise again and return to his Father, all of this was part of God’s programme by which he would show his love for each of us.  But we would have to admit that he only knew a relatively small number of people in a remote province of the then powerful Roman Empire. 

It was after he returned to the Father when the Holy Spirit came that a radical transformation took place.  Peter, John and the other apostles who had been gathered with Mary in the upper room praying for the coming of the Holy Spirit, yet afraid of the Jews and what they would do to them, suddenly became transformed.  They received the Spirit on their heads in the form of tongues of fire.

Pope Benedict wrote in his Message for the World Youth Day:  “On the evening of the day of resurrection Jesus appeared to his disciples, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘receive the Holy Spirit’”.  (John 20:22) 

With even greater power the Holy Spirit came on the apostles on the day of Pentecost.  We read in the Acts of the Apostles: “and suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.  Divided tongues as a fire appeared among them and a tongue rested on each of them.”  (Acts 2:2-3)  The Holy Spirit renewed the apostles from within, filling them with a power that would give them courage to go out and boldly proclaim that Christ has died and is risen, from their earlier hiding in fear they began to speak openly with self-confidence.” 

Notice the transformation.  Frightened fishermen became courageous heralds of the Gospel.  Peter and John baptised six thousand people in one day.  This went on and on and on.  Even though their enemies could not understand.  Because of their lack of education they were not prominent, they could show such courage and endure difficulties, suffering and persecution with joy.  Nothing could stop them.  To those who tried to silence them, they replied, “we cannot keep from speaking about what we have seen and heard”.  (Acts 4:20)

So the Church, enlivened and enriched by the Spirit, goes out to proclaim Jesus.  Ordinary people doing extraordinary work.  W

First Catechesis for World Youth Day

ADDRESS GIVEN BY ARCHBISHOP DENIS HART AT THE FIRST CATECHESIS FOR WORLD YOUTH DAY ON WEDNESDAY, 16TH JULY 2008 AT 9.30 A.M., AT SAINT AGATHA’S, PENNANT HILLS.

“Called to live in the Holy Spirit”

“If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.”
(Galatians 5:25)


My dear young friends,

Let us pause for a moment and imagine someone who is a very close friend of ours, how we long to be with them.  We care if they are sick or well, we remember their special moments of birthdays.  Above all we want to spend time with them and share experiences of life.

We have come from near and far for World Youth Day.  Pope Benedict has asked us especially to try and learn about the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Father does this because he wants us to know that God is near to us and to our lives and that what we are and what we do is important to him.

On the evening of the day of the resurrection Jesus appeared to his disciples, “he breathed on them and said to them, ‘receive the Holy Spirit’.”  (John 20:22)  With even greater power the Holy Spirit came on the apostles at Pentecost, “and suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind and it filled the entire house where they were sitting, tongues of fire divided among them and appeared and a tongue rested on each of them”.  (Acts 2:2-3)

At this meeting, just like our meeting with a special friend, a new relationship was forged between God and us.  That is why I said that God is near to us, our lives are important to him and to so many others by what we can be and what we can become.

On that first Pentecost Sunday the Holy Spirit renewed the apostles from within, filling them with a power that would give them courage to go out and boldly proclaim, ‘God has died and risen’.  Freed from fear they began to speak openly with self-confidence.  (Acts 2:29, Acts 4:13, Acts 4:29, Acts 4:31)  These frightened fishermen had become courageous heralds of the Gospel. 

Even their enemies could not understand how uneducated laymen could show such courage and endure such difficulties, suffering and persecution with joy.  Nothing could stop them.  To those who tried to silence them, they replied, “We cannot keep from speaking about what we have seen and heard.”  (Acts 4:20)  This is how the Church was born and how for two thousand years she has not ceased to preach the Good News. 

Going back to our analogy about a friend.  We are very much influenced by the friends we have, the things we share with them.  If they are good friends we will learn things and share noble ideals and hopes for the future.  You young people are the hope of the world.  You are people of action and because you have come here to Sydney I believe that you are people filled with love.

So, who is the Holy Spirit?  It is easy enough for us to understand God as Father and Jesus, the Son of God.  We know that Jesus’ whole plan was to do what God the Father wanted of him.  The Father gave him a mission after Adam and Eve had sinned to come and bring the world back to him and to give us a free opportunity to say ‘yes’ to Jesus and to develop a personal relationship with him.

For the whole of our life we search to deepen that relationship with Jesus.  It happens gradually at the hands of our parents.  We learned about prayer and about God.  On my first Communion day I came to know that Jesus was near to my life.  Pope Benedict wrote that he wanted to keep a special nearness to Jesus on his journey and at the moment of receiving First Communion he knew that Jesus reached out to him.

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

MASS CELEBRATED BY ARCHBISHOP DENIS HART AT SAINT PATRICK’S CATHEDRAL, MELBOURNE, ON SUNDAY, 13TH JULY 2008 AT 11.00 A.M.

INTRODUCTION

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today I extend a very warm welcome to those who have joined us for Days in the Diocese, our many visitors and all of you who have come on this Lord’s Day to acknowledge God’s limitless love and generosity on our behalf.

The seed is the Word of God, Christ is the sower, all who come to him will love forever.  May we cherish God’s Word as we ponder it knowing that Christ gives us life.

Let us call to mind our sins.

HOMILY

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Have you ever been in a crowd so great that you might have felt crushed, perhaps coming out of a sporting event as people surged forward?  Those in Rome speak of the crush on the buses or coming out of Saint Peter’s.  A huge crowd like this, pressing forward, came to the lakeside to listen to Jesus.

There was always an attractiveness about him, a magnetic quality.  Some would say it was the stories he told.  They were realistic, simple and clear, and the points that he made highlighted God’s love for people and the invitation he gives to us to imitate his generosity.

The most powerful thing about Jesus is the way he demonstrates his own relationship with his Father as one of love and unity and then proceeds to show in his life how that love and unity can be reflected in human life and are the destiny of every human being.

In these days we welcome young people from all over the world.  Their freshness and youth is engaging with the people of our parishes and communities and helping us to realise how valuable is the love and knowledge of Christ that we sometimes take for granted.  The seed, which is the Word of God, tells us of a person.

Just as you and I know a person’s voice when we hear it on the telephone or someone coming in the door, so too the Word of God reveals to us what God is really like.  The seed that falls on good ground will yield a fruitful harvest.  We might become good ground if we realise how God never coerces, is always inviting us. 

Isaiah said God’s Word does not return empty without carrying out his will and succeeding in what it was sent to do.  To be good ground we need to say ‘yes’ to God’s truth, ‘yes’ to a life lived in accordance with it and, despite our falls, continue to faithfully acknowledge Jesus as Lord of our life and allow the power of the Holy Spirit to make us witnesses to Jesus.

Jesus did not ever come simply to establish a cosy kingdom in people’s hearts, which they kept selfishly for themselves, like a precious ornament hidden in a dark cupboard and brought out only to be admired by its owner.  The Word of God, the good seed, was meant when planted in the soil of our hearts to burst into life and to give light to the world.  Jesus said to you and me:  “You are the light of the world.”  A light is not given to be hidden but to be placed on a mountaintop.

Cardinal Newman stressed that the light of Christ is “…You shining on others through me.  None of it will be from me.  All of it will be from You.”  What God has given us in our response to his Word, inviting us to live a live fully united with him, supported by his Commandments, inspired by the Scriptures and by the heroic lives of other Christians, is so that we can welcome Jesus’ Word, it can take root, grow, flower and bear fruit.  We might well think what is the most important word of Jesus, how might we communicate it to others?  Was it “love one another as I have loved yo

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