Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral Melbourne - Sunday 12 July 2015
My dear Brothers and Sisters,
An old University professor once gave a prospective speaker this advice: “Think of yourself as the body at an Irish wake,” he said, “They need you in order to have the party, but no one expects you to say very much.”
When we reach Year 12 we graduate from secondary school and we march forth into the uncertainties of the future often with stirring music and much celebration. A graduation from secondary school is one of the many sending forth experiences that life gives us. We begin again so many times; in university or work, in marriage, in orders, in new assignments, in having children; later on, in infirmity, death. All of these are new beginnings.
We are like the disciples that Jesus summoned and began to send out in pairs, giving them authority over unclean spirits. Their sufficiency was to be the message they carried and the love of Jesus they showed.
In each new step in life we are like the disciples whom Jesus sent out today. Last minute instructions given, they were filled with hope, confidence and fear. They led to an unknown future as you and I do today. Just as Jesus sent his disciples, so then he sends us today. He has trained us and given us his word to shape us. We know he gives us the faith that we share. He robes us in the righteousness of his commandments. The will of God will never take you to where the grace of God will not protect you.
Fifty years ago the Vatican Council’s Decree on the Church missionary activity says this of lay people. “The Church is not truly established and does not fully live, nor is the Church a perfect sign of Christ among the people, unless there exists a laity worthy of the name, working alongside the hierarchy … for the Gospel cannot be deeply imprinted on the mentality, life and work of any people without the presence of active lay people.”
Pope John Paul even went further to emphasise the unique responsibility of lay people in the world. “Through your lives and in the midst of your daily activities in the world, you show that faith has the power to transform the world and to renew humankind. Even though it remains hidden and unnoticed, like the leaven or the salt of the earth, your role as laity is indispensable for the Church in the fulfilment of its mission from Jesus Christ.”
With regard to us, I think that often it is our hesitancy that is probably the greatest obstacle. We tend to look at ourselves in our weakness without seeing the possibilities. Faith must become a passion because when we are passionate about what we are doing and the challenges we face, then things change.
Many times have I visited a parish to open a new church, either with my predecessors or to do so myself. I see already a sense of achievement and completion. I see a sense of what this new building or this new achievement will mean for the understanding and preaching of the Gospel. People believe that they have arrived because God speaks in a new way in their lives.
In the first Reading Amos was so passionate that even when he was rebuffed he would not be silenced. The twelve apostles were fired by the passion of Jesus and were so driven by that passion that human comforts and other considerations became unimportant. Today, Amos, Jesus, the Twelve, and the Ephesians’ author remind us that all of us who have been chosen by Jesus are challenged to renew ourselves, our passions and our purpose. Today may their example aid us to retrieve some of the fire that drove them. “You too have been stamped with the seal of the Holy Spirit of the promise, which brings freedom for those whom God has taken for his own to make his glory praised.” (Ephesians 1.14)
In the face of a modern world who is often preoccupied with itself and with the earthly, the words of Saint Paul, “May the Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ enlighten the eyes of our hearts that we might see how great is the hope to which we are called”, (Ephesians 1.17-18), ring in our ears to realise that whether young or old, weak or strong, by the fact that we live in Jesus we are messengers of hope to our troubled world. May we live that hope sustained by the love and knowledge of Jesus who will never fail us.
+ Denis J. Hart, ARCHBISHOP OF MELBOURNE.