MASS CELEBRATED BY ARCHBISHOP DENIS HART AT SAINT PATRICK’S CATHEDRAL, MELBOURNE, ON SUNDAY 13 SEPTEMBER 2009 AT 11AM.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today in the Readings we are challenged by our attitude to Jesus Christ.
Who is Jesus for us? The Lord of our life? Or some distant person whom we honour? Or someone whom we ignore?
If Jesus is Lord of our life, then we remember that we are saved by God’s mercy because of our weakness, that God is compassionate of us in our suffering, and we are reminded of the absolute centrality of encountering the Cross with him. The Cross is the place of truth for the Christian.
Let us call to mind our sins and ask the Lord for light, happiness and peace.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Preservation of life and health is something which is our most basic instinct and yet Our Lord says: “Anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake and for the sake of the Gospel will save it.” (Mark 8:25)
Both the first Reading and the Gospel speak of servants of God who suffered. Indeed, even Saint Peter, who was later to be Prince of the Apostles, was rebuked by Our Lord for not wanting the Lord to suffer. Peter mistook that suffering was part of the Lord’s mission, but later accepted it in a very painful and powerful way in his own life.
Both the Old Testament prophet and Jesus describe in vivid detail the suffering that is part of being a witness to the kingdom and indeed of being a Christian. Whether it is the suffering of hatred, rejection, of physical pain, of uncertainty, of isolation, we know that suffering is an essential part of Christian life. Suffering courageously accepted unites us with Christ and is in itself redemptive.
Those of you who are young may feel minor sufferings when there is not the possibility of doing something that you like, yet a single visit to the Children’s Hospital will see the very real suffering that those children experience as an unfortunate and difficult to explain part of the human condition. When Jesus came however and he allowed himself to be put to death, preceded by excruciating suffering, he underlined for us that from suffering can come resurrection. From Jesus’ death on the cross came the Church, from the Church given by Jesus comes light and hope to the Sacraments which are life-giving and which expand our hearts to know and love God.
In our human life “we walk by faith and not by sight” (2 Cor 5:7). We perceive God as “in a mirror, dimly” and only “in part” (1 Cor 13:12). Faith is often lived in darkness even though we have the light of God. Our experience of evil and suffering, injustice and death, mean that we must turn to Abraham who in hope believed against hope (Romans 4:18), to Our Lady who in her pilgrimage of faith walked into “the night of faith” (Lumen Gentium 58) in sharing the darkness of her Son’s suffering and death and then to so many others “therefore since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfector of our faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2).
We know that suffering is a consequence of Original Sin, but it acquires a new meaning when it becomes a sharing in the saving work of Jesus. Perhaps the most telling encouragement for us is that Saint Paul, who learned from the Lord: “My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9)
For each of us I believe it is important that we know our destiny and see beyond the struggles. These are the one step that Newman spoke of; they provide a strong hope for the distant scene because our glory is in the Cross of Christ, which leads to resurrection.
+ Denis J. Hart,