Mass celebrated at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Melbourne

Sunday 22 October 2017

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

“Jesus Christ is Lord.” (Philippians 2:11) For us Christians the Readings today remind us of the true priority of God in our lives.

With particular joy we welcome the members of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre who join us for Mass today and for whom the admission of new members will take place after the homily. The Order’s care for the Holy Land, for the sick and those in need is a reminder that each of us is called to be a person for others.

“Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, but give to God what is God’s.”

Jesus outlines for us our responsibility first and foremost to God, but also to our brothers and sisters. There has been much discussion as to how much the Church should be involved in politics; what responsibility we have to be salt and light and leaven in the world. Certainly, we need to keep our equilibrium without absenting ourselves from any aspect of the human experience.

Notice Jesus engaged and made holy the secular world by the sacredness of his presence and his involvement. He remains with us to teach and guide and challenges you and me to see that we can make a difference. As Saint Paul reminded the Thessalonians you have worked for love and persevered through hope in Our Lord, Jesus Christ.

The presence of the Christian in the world is nourished by a vision, which is one of life and family. There is no hesitation. At Christmas, with the coming of our God in human form, we learn how real and tangible is God’s love and work. In imitation of him we too can see the value of the believer in daily life.

1. We are committed to truth.
2. In Jesus we see a teacher of great learning, a compassionate God and human being, someone who entered the depth of our human existence and knows our sufferings and struggles.

What is important for you and me is that in the midst of those troubles our Christian vision of a world made new, of families which can grow and become perfect, of a humanity influenced by truth, objectivity and justice is our offering to the society in which we live. Giving to God what is God’s means that he has made us as rational, intelligent creatures and our rationality and intelligence are meant to be used in service and in challenge to others.

When Jesus speaks out on the care that is due to others his challenge is as all-embracing as it is frightening. When Jesus says, ‘love your neighbour as yourself’, he does not mean to love others as second-class citizens. It means we cherish other people as a gift instead of seeing them as a burden. We see that loving others is the way in which we show our love of God.

Mother Teresa said, “Jesus did not advocate ‘welfare’; Jesus challenged his disciples to love. Love God wholeheartedly with full soul and mind and love your neighbour as yourself.” Elsewhere in the Gospel Jesus would go on to define neighbour as anyone in need without distinction as to race, worthiness or circumstances.

So, by giving to God the things that belong to him shows that we are stewards for what God has given us. It is never solely money. It is giving as a gift all we are and have, all that we know that we are able to be; loved beings with gifts, ability, talents, time, thoughts, ideals, emotions, life itself. Stewardship for God involves everything and everyone God has provided, including the earth and all its people. We as human beings are there to protect, preserve and respect the earth and all that is in it.

All I am, all I ever will be, all I have is God’s. Give to God all that is God’s.

+ Denis J. Hart,
Archbishop of Melbourne.

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