Mass celebrated at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Melbourne

Sunday 23 July 2017 at 11am

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The careful examination of the Readings today reminds us of God's fundamental attitude to us. As we say in the Psalm, "Lord you are good and forgiving." We know that he is patient with us and as St Paul says to the Romans, "The Spirit comes to help us in our weakness" and indeed expresses our pleas to God. The wonderful story of the sowing of seed in the field can be an encouragement to us as we continue our journey. Seed, accompanied by sun, rain and farm management can bring great fruit.

It is a wonderful privilege as a priest to walk with people as they are. Pope Paul VI said that the Church is an expert in humanity and I have profound and humble gratitude for the people who have trusted me and have walked with me, in parish work and here at the Cathedral, in so many friendships. All of this has given me an awareness that God is continually near and providing us all with opportunities.

As I achieve this milestone it is a reminder that every one of us is on a journey. The Parable of the Sower in the Gospel can be understood in terms of God sowing good seed, providing opportunities in the field of life and showing us how seed can fall on good ground, in rocks or among thistles; the patience of God which says "Let them grow until the time for harvest" gives us a realisation that God is always patient and understanding of us, despite our imperfections.

The second example of the mustard seed shows that we can become something that we haven't ever imagined if we follow the Lord and are faithful to what he offers us. Then again, the whole question of the leaven and the dough shows how what we are and what we can become influences people. It is not enough for us to read and study the Scriptures but we have to fulfil them also. Pope Francis has emphasised so much in these years how we must reach out to those physically, spiritually in need, those who have lost hope in the world. If we are bearers of hope we carry with us something that we have received from a God who is abundant in giving his gifts and who has supported us immeasurably. As a young man I would never have imagined what has been entrusted to me or in what I have been asked to serve.

What we take from the Readings today is that we have to focus on the goodness of God and his plan for us. While we know he is forgiving, we know also that God is full of love; he listens to our prayers, he does wonderful things and is a God of mercy, compassion, love and truth who will take pity on us. These are the mysteries of the Kingdom that are shown in the attitudes that God has to us and that we have to have to each other. Patience, forbearance, charity, a clear vision of right and wrong, God knows everything in our hearts. The message of our life has to be clear and sure, established in faithfulness and truth.

May I thank you, my family, my close friends, my friends here at the Cathedral over so many years, for the supportive witness of your prayer and love, for your genuine service of God and people. May this awareness of God's nearness sustain us now and always. May Jesus live in our hearts forever.

+ Denis J Hart

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