Mass celebrated a Saint Patrick’s Cathedral Melbourne

Sunday 25 June 2017

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

An elderly woman, who had worked all her life sewing, finally saved up enough money to go to visit the Holy Land. She had never been on a plane before and was very much afraid. Even though there were four bishops on the plane, she remained totally fearful. Once the plane had reached a suitable altitude and was making its way across the sea the woman opened her eyes, looked out the window and saw that just at that moment one of the plane’s engines broke loose from its bearings and disappeared downward. ‘We are all going to die’, she shouted. The hostess came and tried to calm her, to assure her that the pilot could fly back under three engines and land safely. But she continued to cry, ‘We are going to die, we are going to die.’ Again the attendant assured her, ‘Don’t worry. God’s with us. We have only three engines, but look we have four bishops.’ To that the woman quickly replied, ‘I’d rather have four engines and three bishops.’

One of the greatest challenges in life is irrational fear, or even the worry that fear may take over our lives. What are we afraid of? What makes us go dry in the mouth and hesitate? Some people fear embarrassment, or heights, or the insecurity of losing a job. Others fear old age, sickness, not being in control. We have to remember that some fears are reasonable, others are not. In the Gospel today Our Lord says, “Do not be afraid. Everything that is now covered will be uncovered and everything hidden will be made clear. What I say to you in the dark, tell it in the day light.”

We have to remember that we are all in God’s providence. He invites us to trust him because he loves us and holds us in the palm of his hand. His love is wonderful, protective, guiding our way always. Indeed, if Jesus chose twelve fishermen to be those on whom he would found his Church, he realises the importance of the witness that you and I can give to him.

As we come to him in prayer we remember that despite the criticism, the challenges of others, we stand before a God of truth, whom we must face responsibly, but a God of great love, as we turn to him and pray, Lord, in your great love, answer me. We know too that though sin and death came into the world, a far greater gift came through Our Lord. He tells us not to be afraid because if we declare ourselves for Jesus in human presence, he will declare himself for us in the sight of God. This is the wonderful promise. Jesus gives us the other side of the coin when he says, “Do not be afraid.” Today then we remember that God’s presence is careful and loving. He is so vigilant. He attends to our needs at every moment.

Harry Fossdick, a Baptist preacher in New York in the early twentieth century, says this: “Fear imprisons, faith liberates; fear paralyses, faith empowers; fear disheartens, faith encourages; fear sickens, faith heals; fear makes useless, faith makes serviceable and most of all fear puts hopelessness at the heart of life, while faith rejoices in its God.”

Jesus himself is saying to each of us: “Do not be afraid little flock because it has pleased your heavenly Father to give you the kingdom, a kingdom which eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man to conceive what God has prepared for those who love him.”

+ Denis J. Hart,
Archbishop of Melbourne.

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