Mass celebrated at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Melbourne

Sunday 21 May 2017

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In the Gospel we have just read Jesus speaks that his departure is imminent. We begin to feel the pain of parting. Yet it is in the new way of seeing him that we will find life. It is the new way of faith. Jesus says: “You will see me because I live and you will live.”

This is where memory of Jesus is more than the recollection of a past event. Jesus is going with us and asks the Father for another advocate, the Holy Spirit, to be with us and to help keeping his memory alive. The memory is not just of past deeds. It is of the power of Jesus to be with us, to give us hope. Our joy in the resurrection of the Lord is meant to be celebrated in the lives we lead.

We noticed in today’s first Reading that Philip is involved in preaching and curing and this is a source of great rejoicing before the Apostles laid hands on the people at Samaria and gave them the Holy Spirit.

The second Reading as you will well remember is a passage that I often quote from Saint Peter. “Reverence the Lord Christ in your hearts and always have your answer ready for the people who ask you the reason for the hope that you all have. But give it with courtesy and respect and with a clear conscience.” (1 Peter 3:15-16)

Jesus himself with the promise of the Holy Spirit reminds us that he will be present through the spirit of truth, will not leave us orphans and that if we love him we will be loved by the Father and by Jesus.

Pope Benedict, whom we remember with affection as a great teacher, stressed in his Encyclical Letter on Hope that, “The self-understanding of the early Christians was shaped by their having received the gift of a trustworthy hope.” (Spe Salvi, 2) The Pope again says that: “The Gospel is not merely a communication of things that can be known. It is one that makes things happen and is life changing. The dark door of time, of the future, has been thrown open. The one who has hope lives differently. The one who hopes has been granted the gift of new life.” (Spe Salvi, ibid.)

Many of you will realise that the Pope has a particular affection for Saint Augustine, whom he quotes also in the Encyclical: “In some way we want life itself, true life, untouched even by death; yet at the same time we do not know the thing towards which we feel driven. We cannot stop reaching out for it, and yet we know that all we can experience or accomplish is not what we yearn for. This unknown thing is the true hope which drives us.” (Spe Salvi, 12)

Jesus has promised he will be with us, his presence is constant, but spiritual. It reminds us to remember that we are not just bodies, but we are body and spirit and it is the spirit which guides the body. We have to understand that Jesus is in the Father and we in Jesus and Jesus in us.

May the risen Christ strengthen and guide your faith, make you know his constant presence and be his witnesses when the Holy Spirit comes.

+ Denis J. Hart,
Archbishop of Melbourne.

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