Mass celebrated at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Melbourne

Sunday, 27 August 2017, 11am

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Today’s Gospel focuses us once again on who is Christ for our life. The whole of our faith is a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It was Peter’s whole reason for existence, sustaining him in his weakness, drawing him out to be an articulate proclaimer and leader of the faith. Later at the Council of Jerusalem the commission that Jesus gave to Peter was accepted by all of the disciples.

From the time of Peter he and his successors have been a focus of the unity of the Church and also of the fact that Jesus Christ is the reason for the Church’s existence. You and I are invited to remain in love with Jesus Christ and by that to attain what God promises in oneness of mind and heart.

Isaiah tells the story of binding and loosing, which is picked up by Jesus and by Peter’s profession at Caesarea Philippi and Jesus entrusting to him the keys. Peter’s own hesitation and human weakness have given away to a special assistance, which only God can give him. It is perhaps a remarkable surprise to us that God would build his Church upon a man of so obvious weakness and insecurity, one who denied Jesus three times and yet was given a similar privilege of not merely professing his divinity, but living it until the time of his martyrdom.

The reason why we experience this unity in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church is surely because human weakness is transformed by the power of Christ. Our use of the sacrament of reconciliation to seek forgiveness always gives us a new mission to go out and live the life of the Gospel, supported by the eternal love of God, knowing that we are the work of God’s hands.

Saint Paul goes even further in Romans when he says: “How rich are the depths of God, how deep his wisdom and knowledge, and how impossible to penetrate his motives or understand his methods.” (Romans 11:33) This is a reminder that God is with those who profess faith in him, who remain united with his Church and, despite the imperfection of its people, that Church will endure until the end of time because it is a reflection, a preparation of the life of eternity.

One of the problems we have in our modern life is that we tend to look at things in too rational a way; analysing and adding up our faults and imperfections, realising that by human logic it is impossible for us to change or grow. Divine logic, however, is far different. It gives us the capacity to grow because by following his teaching we become holy and are transformed.

Just as the bread and wine, our gifts, are transformed into the body and blood of Christ, so our human weakness and unprofitability is given a new dimension of growth and transformation until the day when we will see Jesus face to face and he will be all in all for us.

Saint Paul’s vision of a dim glimpse through a glass giving way to a face to face encounter is an invitation to us to see in the Eucharist greater wonders and possibilities than we ever dreamed because the reality of our God is coming to encounter us in the Eucharist, to strengthen us in our journey, and to give us confidence until the day of Christ Jesus in our lives. That is the hope and wonder of the invitation he has given us.

Like Peter, may we see Christ as the Son of the living God. May the faith, which we share with Peter, be our rock and may the light of eternity transfuse our daily lives, as with faith we continue our journey.

+ Denis J. Hart,
Archbishop of Melbourne.

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