MASS CELEBRATED BY ARCHBISHOP DENIS HART AT SAINT PATRICK’S CATHEDRAL, MELBOURNE, ON SUNDAY, 26TH APRIL 2015 AT 11.00 A.M.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today’s Readings give us a very clear picture of the situation of the Church today. Like the people of Israel there are many in our society who reject Jesus Christ or who reject the Church because of our frailty and failures. Yet the Psalm says, ‘the stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone’, while Saint John reminds us that we are God’s children and his care and love for us as the Good Shepherd goes on and on. Jesus himself even reminds us that he knows us and we know him.
While the Gospel story can be applied for priests and leaders, those with responsibility for others, I submit that these Readings give the light to all of our relationships and dealings with others. Note particularly Pope Francis’s strong emphasis on the link between limitless mercy and our coming to engage with the Gospel. And in the Gospel today Our Lord gathers his disciples who were scattered like sheep at the time of his death and resurrection and note too that his first words are peace and total forgiveness for their cowardice.
The image of the lost sheep is also particularly topical today. There are Catholics who have wandered away or who feel abandoned by the Church because of their big challenges. What this Gospel says is that Christ’s love is unconditional, that for every one of us, whether our links with the Church are strong or weak, whether our practice of prayer is faithful or limited, there is someone searching out for us. As Pope Francis has said, we tire of asking for God’s forgiveness, but God never tires of offering it.
Today as we reflect on our contact with God, listening to his Word, personally receiving Jesus in Holy Communion, we come to know that we are part of a family where Jesus knows us and we know him; he is the one whose mercy and compassion and love are without limit. We are called to know that love, mercy and compassion, but also to be the instruments of limitless mercy, forgiveness and readiness to reach out to others as well. That is the other side of the coin, that is the other side of the invitation which Jesus gives us on this special Sunday.
+ Denis J. Hart,
ARCHBISHOP OF MELBOURNE.