Mass celebrated at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Melbourne, on Sunday, 11 October 2015
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
We have just prayed, “May your grace, O Lord, we pray, at all times go before us and follow after and make us always firm in the resolve to do what is good.”
As you have already noticed the Readings speak very powerfully of what is needed for us to achieve eternal life. The rich young person coming to Our Lord asking, “Master, what good must I do to inherit eternal life?” and Jesus’ reply, “No one is good but God alone. If you wish to enter into life, keep the Commandments.”
Today we thank God for our gifts and see that our faith is something to be lived. As the young person encountered Christ, so today we encounter God who is the only source of good, so that we will be able to build up his kingdom. This leads to a focus on who God is for us. The fundamental achievement of Jesus’ life is that he is the only loved Son of the Father and he loves me unconditionally.
Father John Fuellenbach, a theologian, has expressed it in this way. “The greatest mystery of my life is that God loves me in a way that no one could ever love me. I am created out of love, held in existence out of love. The first fact about me is not that I am a sinner who will be loved and appreciated if I fulfil certain requirements. The first and important reality of my life is that I am a precious being in the eyes of God. I am accepted, appreciated. I am loved, cared for, desired by God. I am as an only child before God, precious and priceless in his eyes.”
Each of us is invited to see God as the source of all good and Jesus as the one who chose the lifestyle of compassion, whether in his treatment of the poor, his preaching, his actions and his death. Yet the unavoidable question in the life of every one of us, is how do we respond to him?
Pope John Paul wrote in 1993, “People today need to turn to Christ once again, in order to receive from him the answer to their questions about what is good and what is evil.” He goes on to emphasise that only God is good and our asking about the good means that we turn towards God as the only one who is good, keep his Commandments as the framework of life, and above all have the great Commandments of love of God and neighbour.
When Jesus praised in his famous sermon on the mount, “The poor in spirit, those who hunger and thirst after justice, those who mourn,” he shows an inversion of all of the human priorities so that we are focussed on God’s infinite love and his plans for our world. We know too that the condition for the moral growth of the young person called to perfection is, that even though we have observed all the Commandments, there is one thing further, to come, follow Jesus.
In the life of each of us perfection demands that maturity and self-giving to which human freedom is called. To freely entrust ourselves to the Lord, “poor in spirit” as the Alleluia said, recognising that we have everything from God and being filled with God’s love and singing for joy.
All of these things show that an entrusting of ourselves to the grace of Christ, a commitment to walk with him each day in prayer and to see that what we are enabled to do is an enriching of the world he gave us and in which he wanted to be seen and active through our words and deeds.
+ Denis J. Hart,
Archbishop of Melbourne.