MASS CELEBRATED BY ARCHBISHOP DENIS HART AT SAINT PATRICK’S CATHEDRAL, MELBOURNE, ON SUNDAY, 20TH DECEMBER 2009 AT 11.00 A.M.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Even when she was carrying the Saviour of the world Mary went to visit her cousin, Saint Elizabeth, filled with joy and Christian charity.
Elizabeth’s greeting, ‘blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled’, is a reminder of the power of faith in God, following Mary’s acceptance of his plan for her life.
Today as we prepare for the coming of the Saviour and once again reflect on the wonderful mystery of God’s coming to share our human nature and enrich it, we too are invited to believe in God’s power in our lives, making us turn to him as we call to mind our sins knowing that we will be renewed.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In a few days yet again we will commemorate the coming of Christ into our world. Our lives and hearts will be touched by the nearness of God and his humanity, reaching with divine love into all corners of the world and changing our world, if only for one day. As we wait in faith and hope we remember that God is near. The author of the Letter to the Hebrews today reminds us that Christ’s readiness to do the will of the Father and come to us challenges us to say ‘God, here I am. I am coming to obey your will.’
In Mary, however, we find that readiness to do God’s will enshrined within wonderful yet human preparedness to see the power of faith, the wonder of saying ‘yes’ and the joy of believing. Mary had already become pregnant by the power of the Holy Spirit, in a mysterious entry of God into human history. It was puzzling for Joseph her betrothed, who had decided to divorce her informally until he was warned by the angel that Mary was carrying the Saviour of the world by God’s power.
The whole Christmas story and particularly this stage of Mary’s acceptance and belief is a reminder to you and to me of the power of belief in our lives. We are indeed fortunate to have the Word of God in Scripture in a way that we can understand; his invitation, his intervention and the destiny to which we are called.
So many of us are comforted by faith, aware that God is near, sure that our lives have been blessed because of our readiness to believe. This contrasts with those without faith, who put Jesus to death so as to get rid of a troublesome reformer. Our faith has given us eyes to see and appreciate Jesus, to see God’s purpose and meaning in our lives. Jesus entered into the simplest circumstances of human poverty to show that love, truth and faithfulness to God’s plan are the three ingredients of finding true happiness, of being there for each other as Jesus and Mary were, and of nurturing, enriching and encouraging others in our world.
Indeed, even if we are young, teenagers or older people with more leisure, we ought never lose sight of what we can become, of what we can contribute and of the hope that we come to bring because of God’s unbelievable goodness to us.
The author of the Letter to the Hebrews speaks of ready obedience, God coming to us as people, the Gospel, Mary believing that God’s promises would be fulfilled, and the prophet, Micah, promising to feed us with his power and love.
In these days before Christmas we need to turn to our God in love and wonder, to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation so that our hearts will be open and pure and we will go forward seeing God’s face as a recognition of how he loves us. If we see his face we will be saved. We need, however, to turn to him, to see him, to love him and to love others as he loves us.
In the Opening Prayer we prayed that the Lord would fill our hearts with his love to recognise the coming of Jesus, the power of his suffering and the new life which he offers for us. Ind