Mass celebrated at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Melbourne - Sunday 23 August 2015
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today we ask to see the values that will bring us lasting joy in this changing world. We are challenged by the words of the apostles to Jesus, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the message of eternal life, and we believe; we know that you are the holy one of God.” (John 6.69)
Today we are challenged to address the doubt and hesitation which some Christians experience with regard to the Eucharist and to the faith. Often they allow their hesitancy to take over instead of the two-fold foundation of reason and faith. We might even say that we neglect a further study of our faith to our peril. There can be many Catholics who have a limited childish knowledge of the faith and yet are very gifted in their secular and professional skills. It is a cause for regret that their development in faith has not kept pace with their professional development.
Perhaps a reminder of the experience of Job in today’s first reading might prompt a renewal of mind and heart. We remember that Job struggled with his own personal doubts, finding no logical answers for the suffering that had been visited on him and when he cried out in complaint to God he was not granted full understanding or a solution to his difficulties. He was challenged to remember what he had known and experienced of God in the light, so as to entrust himself to the same God in darkness.
Faith consists in the full acceptance of the rational, but moving beyond the rational to the revealed because it is God who has revealed and his Word is true.
Joshua today says that if you do not serve the Lord, choose someone else. And the people’s answer really is a response to the conundrum. We have no intention of deserting the Lord, who brought us out of Egypt, the house of slavery, who worked great wonders and preserved us along the way. We too will serve the Lord for he is our God.
Confronted with the Eucharist we say to ourselves, ‘Can’t the God who did all things not give us himself as bread to eat? Couldn’t he offer himself as real food and drink? Couldn’t he who fed the multitudes also feed us with food from heaven?’ The Eucharist does lead us into a wonderful encounter with God through appearances of bread and wine, which are transformed in their reality into the body and blood of Christ.
Thus, in this Mass we encounter the Lord of all and we are strengthened by him to give him witness. The action, which is about to take place, is an action, which saves us and gives us life. It challenges us to profess our faith and to convey it to others.
We have received much and the greatest gift of all is the Eucharist. An awareness of how much we have received challenges us to go forward, strengthened by what we have received, acknowledging Jesus, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of everlasting life.”
+ Denis J. Hart,
ARCHBISHOP OF MELBOURNE.