Mass celebrated at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Melbourne
Sunday 19 February 2017
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
“Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48) can often seem an impossible ideal. This implies a whole way of thinking and living. The Gospel reminds us of a whole lot of ways we can be perfect before God and others. In what does holiness consist? Commandments, church attendance, prayer, fasting, almsgiving, as in the Scriptures? Many religions have their own rules: for Buddhists, eight main points of righteousness; for Islam, five pillars; in India, good karma by observing non-violence, non-possessiveness and non-absolutism with good deeds.
Oscar Wilde enjoyed saying: “Always forgive your enemies. Nothing annoys them more.” We know The Beatitudes in Jesus’ teaching. Saint Francis of Assisi said: “While you are proclaiming peace with your lips be careful to have it even more fully in your heart.” More recently Caesar Chavez added: “The non-violent technique does not depend for its success on the goodwill of the oppressor, but rather on the unfailing assistance of God.”
Holiness is a special relationship with God; being a transparent God-bearer, being the light of Christ to others, being human temples in which God dwells and the Spirit moves.
In my words I would put it that if we are open to God and open to others then we will gradually grow in both. The primary relationship with God is a relationship of knowledge, worship and love. That is why it is so important to learn our faith, to come to know it, to realise that faith is a relationship with the most wonderful person in the world and yet it lifts us to a level higher than any other relationship.
Jesus took it the other way when he said: “Love one another, as I have loved you.” Or as we saw in the Alleluia this morning: “Whoever keeps the Word of Christ grows perfect in the love of God” (1 John 2:5), shows that for us Christians the relationship with God is the basis of all our other activities and relationships.
A person who really responds to God has a faith and a heart which is enlarged because God is perfect, which can then like God be kind and merciful. When we say we all belong to Christ and Christ to God we are reminded that in belonging to Christ we have the epitome of love and we seek in our daily life to reflect that love with others.
Romano Guardini said: “Man is really just only when he seeks more than mere justice’; more not merely quantitatively, but qualitatively. He must find a power capable of breaking the band of injustice, something strong enough and big enough to intercept aggression and disarm it; that is love.”
Lord, help us to live the example of love we celebrate in this Eucharist, that we may come to its fulfilment in your presence.
+ Denis J. Hart,
ARCHBISHOP OF MELBOURNE.