Mass celebrated at Holy Child Church, Dallas, for the 50th anniversary of the parish, on Saturday 15 August 2015
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today the Lord gives us a twofold invitation; in the words of the Old Testament, an invitation to food and wine. In Jesus’ own words in the Gospel, a realisation that Jesus’ words, ‘Eat my flesh and drink my blood’ are not just metaphors.
Jesus gave himself for the life of the world and redeemed us. He gives us himself in the Eucharist. Together, as believers, we come to our Lord and we acknowledge him.
Today we celebrate fifty years of the parish of Dallas. Here at the Eucharist with Jesus’ powerful teaching on his real presence we know that he is near to us, so that Sunday after Sunday and day after day we can come and listen to his word, be strengthened by receiving him in the Eucharist and be sent out in mission to the work of the parish, the school, its organisations and groups and to the personal witness that each of us shows in walking with our family and friends and encouraging them in the ways of faith.
I pay tribute to all that has been done here in this parish and I am deeply grateful to Father Leenus for his leadership at present and for the obvious enthusiasm with which we all gather together to celebrate the Eucharist.
In order that we might always keep the memory of this great act of love he left his body as food and his blood as drink to be received under the appearances of bread and wine. This Sacrament purges away our sins, increases our virtues and nourishes our minds.
In the early Church Clement of Alexandria, Origen and Eusebius understood the bread of life to refer to the revelation of God in Jesus’ teaching. John Chrysostom, Gregory of Nicaea and Cyril of Jerusalem emphasised the sacramental character of Jesus’ gift of bread from heaven. This explains the reason why the Word of God and the sacrifice and sacrament of the Eucharist are found in the Mass.
Jesus’ own words, ‘If you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man you will not have life in you’, remind us that the Eucharist is absolutely essential and our present Holy Father has stressed again and again that it is essential for Catholics to attend Sunday Mass because the Eucharist gives us life. Indeed, in his Holy Thursday letter he reminded us how the Eucharist builds up the life given in Baptism.
The Pope also reminds us of the importance of adoration and the worship of the Eucharist outside of Mass. He says that it is the responsibility of the pastors of the Church to encourage also by their personal witness the practice of Eucharistic adoration and Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament because it is necessary to spend time with him and to feel Christ’s infinite love so that we can be his instruments.
Indeed, the Holy Father stresses as necessary for our time, “If in our time Christians must be distinguished above all by the art of prayer how can we not feel a renewed need to spend time in spiritual converse, in silent adoration, in heartfelt love before Christ present in the Sacrament.” (Ecclesia De Eucharistia. 25)
Thinking of fifty years in the parish the challenge comes before us, not merely to turn in thanksgiving for what has been achieved, but to commit ourselves actively with all the power and energy and love that comes from the Eucharist to work, to serve God’s people, to worship him and to bring his care to others in the years ahead. This is not a mere memorial of the past, but a living and dynamic invitation to go forward with the great faith and love of the people of Dallas into the weeks, months and years, which lie ahead.
The Holy Father in these years has given us the challenge of staking everything by our union with Christ, searching for holiness so that each of us can fulfil our mission in the Church and in the world. The two-fold contact with Christ in the Mass and Holy Communion and in Adoration are both communal and personal, so that they prepare all of us to appreciate the great jewel which we have in the Eucharist and which we share with others in our witness to Jesus.
What more could Jesus have done for us? Truly in the Eucharist he shows us a love which goes “to the end” (Cf. John 13:1), a love which knows no measure.
+ Denis J. Hart,
ARCHBISHOP OF MELBOURNE.