Mass celebrated at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Melbourne
Sunday, 1 October 2017
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The parable of the two sons shows one who was ready enough to be influenced by the things of God to change his mind.
When C. S. Lewis in 1943 changed his mind and turned to Christ he described his experience, “Every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part that chooses, into something a little different than it was before …… all your life long you are slowly turning the central thing into a creature, which is in harmony with God …… or else into one that is in a state of war.”
Today’s Scripture reading urges us to consider the great blessing, that it is the God-given prerogative of every sinner to change their mind. Indeed the American philosopher of the 19th century, William James, once said that the greatest discovery of his time was that human beings could alter their lives by altering the attitudes of their minds. Ezekiel says that those who change their minds, hearts and lives by turning towards what is good will reap the benefits thereof. Those who change their hearts and lives by turning from goodness to evil will reap retribution.
Saint Paul writes to the Philippians that this turning, choosing and changing one’s mind is the process of conversion, “putting on the mind of Christ”. Notice the attitude of Jesus: humility, service, selflessness and love. He spent himself in preaching, healing the sick, forgiving, as a champion of truth, being totally open to his Father. He was even so ready to go to the Cross and undergo the full burden of human sin because he saw what he could achieve with God’s power.
This is why the present Holy Father urges us to contemplate Christ, seek holiness through prayer, as the means by which we will be able to achieve that launch out into the deep, which allows us to be the instruments of God given for others.
Each of us may sum up Jesus in his own way, but when we quote the Gospel passage, “Greater love than this no one has than that a man lay down his life for his friends”, we see Jesus’ absolute correspondence to his Father’s will, his total giving of himself and the powerful effect of offering us hope, where before there had been only despair.
Today, we sinners are invited to change our mind, to change our life as the recipients of a gift of grace extended by a merciful, loving God. It is not just one action; it is a continuing and transforming revelation. I believe it is the discovery made, gradually or suddenly, that God is real. Jesus, crucified and risen from the dead, calls each of us to exercise our capacity as self-admitted sinners, to change our minds, turn our hearts and transform our lives towards God. Change is constant in human experience, but the decision as to how we shall change, when we will change, how often and to what degree we will change, is ours.
To me the unshakeable fact is that it is our attitude to people and things, which underlies our own philosophy of life, our actions and the extent to which Christ will work through us. Yes or no. Yes to God means that he will pursue us through our times of doubt and hesitation, but if our yes comes from the heart and we act on it, then we will truly live in Christ, with Christ and be transformed by Christ.
+ Denis J. Hart,
Archbishop of Melbourne.