MASS CELEBRATED BY ARCHBISHOP DENIS HART AT SAINT PATRICK’S CATHEDRAL, MELBOURNE, ON SUNDAY 28 AUGUST 2011 AT 11AM.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today’s Mass encourages us to realise our total dependence on God.
Our own will and our own choices can only be seen in the light of God’s plan for us because he alone is the Creator and Redeemer.
Whether in suffering or in challenge and death, the mission which God gives us is most powerful and leads to resurrection.
We ask God the Father to enlighten our eyes to see the great hope to which we are called.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
We as believers can be at peace in the knowledge that God’s grace is ever present to mentor our minds and encourage our efforts at goodness.
The Readings today show us how Jeremiah was totally taken over by the Lord, despite the fact that this led him to suffering. The thirst that we have for the Lord, our wanting to see God’s strength and glory, knowing his help, is just so important. What is important to remember is that God is merciful to us and we have to have a new way of looking at things, which is God’s way. Saint Peter, of course, shrank back when Jesus told him that it was to suffer and to die. But a broader understanding of God’s call is given perhaps by the famous German Lutheran theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who died in 1945.
When he spoke of his early ministry he said: “I threw myself into the work in a very unchristian and rather arrogant manner. A mind boggling ambition made my life difficult and separated me from the love and trust of my fellow human beings. At that time I was terribly alone. Then something difficult happened which changed my life. I came to the Bible. I had always preached, seen a lot of the church, and given speeches about the Bible and written about it, but I still had not become a Christian. I was very much an untamed child. I had turned the whole business about Jesus into an advantage for myself. I had never prayed, or at least not much and not really. It was from this that the Bible freed me, it became clear to me that a life of a servant of Jesus must belong to the Church.”
Only when he realised that he did not belong to himself, but to God and to others did Bonhoeffer arrive at the place of surrender where he was willing to accede to God’s plan rather than his own. God’s Word was not just a lesson or a sermon, but a living, breathing partner, to whom he was to listen and from which he dialogued and reflected.
Jeremiah in today’s first Reading struggled with what God asked of him. Paul shows himself as making a living sacrifice. But more than that, Peter was not fully aware of what he accepted when Jesus said, “Follow me.” Peter was looking to glory and victory, whereas Jesus showed that the true Messianic call was to suffer, to die and to rise again. This brings us to confront our own weakness and struggles, the things that we cannot explain, the challenges that we cannot forget.
The invitation today is to surrender ourselves and our lives to God, to be mentored and directed by the Word and by the will of God. Like Bonhoeffer when we surrender we will find ourselves in the embrace of God whose loving will challenges our every effort and whose saving Word speaks to our every need.
How great indeed is the hope to which we are called, as we thirst for the living God, pining for him and knowing that he will save us and bring us to our destiny. We have to be shaped by a new mind, which allows God to take us over, to know what is good and that his plan is the perfect answer for us.
May Jesus live in our hearts forever.
+ Denis J. Hart,
ARCHBISHOP OF MELBOURNE