MASS CELEBRATED BY ARCHBISHOP DENIS HART AT ST PATRICK’S CATHEDRAL, MELBOURNE, ON SUNDAY, 15TH FEBRUARY, 2015, AT 11.00 A.M.
Brothers and Sisters,
seldom in the city at night. On some
occasions I have seen young people who obviously have nowhere to go. I know from years back, overseas, I have seen
people sleeping in boxes, under railway bridges, in parks. In more recent years the glazed eyes and other
symptoms of drug taking are like a spectre in our society.
disease, pain, suffering; none of us passes through life untouched by these
evils, which are part of the human condition.
Those of you who are older will remember the polio epidemic of the 1940s
and 1950s, the effects of AIDS over the last twenty years and the fear of some
terrible virus, anthrax, smallpox and many other deadly diseases.
Gospel today speaks of leprosy – a terrible debilitating disease, repulsive to
look at, horrible to describe, as the human body is painfully and inevitably
destroyed. And yet there is a condition
present in our society and our lives, that of sin, which is far more painful
and gruesome than any illness.
deforms and cripples. How much more,
sin. Leprosy, if allowed to go
unchecked, is a virtual death sentence.
How much more does human sin destroy, separate, isolate, alienate,
deform, cripple and eventually bring death to the heart, mind and spirit of
someone who allows it to go unrecognised, unchecked and unrepented.
who were present with Jesus marvelled at the cures of sickness as those who
were shunned as the living dead were brought back to life. The physical healings Jesus performed are
simply external illustrations of the most wonderful thing of all, ‘go and sin
no more’, the readiness that Jesus has to forgive us. That is why he instituted the Sacrament of
Reconciliation; far more life-giving than any psychiatrist, far more reassuring
than any therapist, because it is an operation of grace.
we can hesitate in approaching the Sacrament because of our shame or the
seeming repetition of our category of weakness and failure. Yet this is not the real point at issue.
we receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation it is Jesus who heals. It is not the repetition. It is not the seeming frustration at our
failure to grow. It is Jesus who catches
us up into the economy of grace. That
means that God, not only gives us a lasting peace, but he lifts us up to see
things his way, to see that we too can remake our lives and be instruments of
remaking the world through the healing and forgiveness of a sinner who
entire human community can be healed.
The distorted attitudes and values, the false priorities, the fears that
hold people back from doing good. Our
words as also the words of Jesus today, could be, “Lord, if you will to do so,
you can cure me”, and he invites us to be emboldened to do the same. Once our sin is admitted and our sins named
and surrendered to the power of God we will hear the words, “I do will it. Be cured.
Be forgiven and go and sin no more.”
story of leprosy today is a reminder that there is hope, there is capacity to
grow. The great prophet has visited his
people, giving us Reconciliation and the Eucharist to cleanse and renew us and
lead us to our eternal reward. May it be
so in the life of each of us today and in the Sacrament we approach in the near
+ Denis J. Hart,
ARCHBISHOP OF MELBOURNE.