MASS CELEBRATED BY ARCHBISHOP DENIS HART AT SAINT PATRICK’S CATHEDRAL, MELBOURNE, ON SUNDAY, 25TH JANUARY 2015, AT 11.00 A.M.
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
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
+ Denis J. Hart,
ARCHBISHOP OF MELBOURNE.