Mass at St Patrick’s cathedral - Sunday 25 January 2015


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Jesus’ own words 'the time has come: and the kingdom of God is close at hand' underline for us that now is the opportune time for conversion and renewal. This invitation is both personal and communal:

'We are Australian; we stand here proudly brave, strong, open and tolerant. We stand here equal, fair, true and free. Together we will build the future, but we will not forget the past. We will stand together, we are Australian'.

Above all, I see the present as a time of opportunity. We notice in the first reading that given forty days the people of Nineveh fasted and did penance for their sins. We seek to uproot prejudice, a sense of racial superiority and to turn towards the poor showing a deeper reverence for people.

Remember those Jesus called had to leave their families, their homes, and following him was urgent business.

With the threat of war and with some hint of tension in our society, we Australians have to admit that time is urgent.

In the words of the Australian commitment, our strength has to be in not taking for granted the land and the freedom that we have - to value it and to work for it. Each of us can be an agent of a proper use of resources, of tolerance, understanding and openness to our friends from many countries who thank God for the welcome here. We must not let this welcome, equality and fairness be over-thrown by placing other people in different stereotypes and emphasising difference, rather than unity. We must be prepared to work together.

When Jesus said to Peter and Andrew I will make you fishers of men, he emphasised that it was in going out to people that we regularly find their reality and dignity and are able to replace ignorance with welcome and respect.

As we stand on the threshold of the future we are challenged by the possibility of war.  We recall Pope John XXIII’s letter on 'peace on earth', written fifty-two years ago at a time when because of the Cuban missile crisis the road to a world of peace, justice and freedom seemed blocked.  Many believed that humanity was condemned to live indefinitely in a cold war, hoping against hope, that an act of aggression or an accident would not trigger the worst war in human history. In the light of our pledge it is worth thinking about what Pope John XXIII saw as the essential conditions for peace.

1.   Truth will build peace if every individual sincerely acknowledges his rights, but also his own duties towards others.

2.   Justice will build peace even in practice if everyone respects the rights of others and actually fulfils his duty towards them.

3.   Love will build peace if people feel the needs of others as their own and share what they have with others, especially the values of mind and spirit which they possess.

4.   Freedom will build peace and make it thrive if in the choice of the means to that end people act according to the reason and assume responsibility for their own actions.

Things are not always what they seem on the surface. Even now we have promise of an opportunity to make our country and our world new. To be fair, true and free. To build the future if we stand together. That is my prayer for us all this Australia Day.

+ Denis J. Hart,



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