Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Present at this Mass are people from a very wide range of backgrounds, including our young people from Australian Catholic University, who are completing their studies in nursing, business, law, education and other disciplines. Our University is completely committed to the truth of our human nature and to being challenged by that truth in living in unity with Jesus Christ and with each other. Just like the disharmony which would result in turning one hundred pianos; the first to the second, the second to the third and so on, and how this contrasts with tuning all of them to one tuning fork, this is like the image that Jesus uses of the vine.
Many branches are attached and reliant for life on one vine. Jesus speaks of himself as the true vine, whereas the people of Israel had been unfaithful and were therefore a wild vine. If we are part of the vine, then God the Father is the vinedresser, who ensures our continued fruitfulness by pruning away the barren branches and trimming clean the fruitful ones to make them even more fruitful.
In the Passion we see Jesus totally faithful to the will of the Father. We are reminded that if we listen to Jesus’ words, if we accept his presence living within us, then we will be one with Christ. Saint John reminds us in the second Reading, “Our love is not to be just words or mere talk, but something real and active. Only by this can we be certain that we are children of the truth.” (1 John 3:19.20) Our Lord’s own words, “Live in me and let me live in you, my branches bear much fruit.” (John 15:4.5)
Following again the parable of the vine, barren branches are people who have neither listened to Jesus’ word nor made a home for him within themselves.
For us in our human weakness, enlightened by the joy of the resurrection, making Jesus at home within ourselves is surely recognising our weakness, but sincerely, doggedly trying in words, deeds, family life, work, to make our life and his correspond, to make ourselves open to the inspirations of grace and the great opportunities for good. While barren branches have not heeded the Lord, bearing fruit in our life means our efforts to draw unbelievers to Christ to show Christian virtue and love.
I extend congratulations to those who have graduated from the University with the hope that they will carry into their individual lives and careers a respect for truth, a valuing of integrity and a thanksgiving for the real skills that they have acquired. This seeks to open their minds to truth and reality and to the contribution to our society which gifted, articulate Catholics can make.
I encourage you to believe in yourselves and in the gifts which you have. Keep Jesus at the centre of your life and allow his truth to guide you and inspire you and others by your gifts. We are fortunate to be with you today and to encourage you in the use of these gifts with generosity and faithfulness.
In the second Reading Saint John makes the telling comment that it is possible to love one another only if there is a relationship with Jesus which motivates us. To live in Jesus means he is our closest friend and inspiration. He invites us into a new economy when by spiritual grace he draws us forward and helps us to see ourselves and our lives anew.
The ancient Greeks saw in the vine a symbol of immortality because of the sense of wellbeing which came from the wine, fruit of the vine, freeing us from care. Each of us does well to remember that with Jesus guiding us, no matter what challenges may come we will be fixed clearly on the hope that he gives, the goal that will be ours and the sustaining help that no one and nothing else can give, which comes from him, our Lord and Saviour.
+ Denis J. Hart,
ARCHBISHOP OF MELBOURNE.