Mass celebrated at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, on Sunday, 6th September 2015
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The Gospel we have just read recalls the healing of a person who had been deaf and dumb. It is significant, too, that in the ceremony of Baptism the priest touches the ears and the mouth of the child or of the adult so as to open his eyes and his speech to the Good News of the Gospel. These physical healings by Jesus are indications of a much deeper reality and it is very important for us to realise this so that each Sunday as we come to Jesus we come above all to the one who is full of love and mercy, to the one who really can pardon our sins and forgive us, who can provide a new reality in our life of peace and truth, despite the struggles of daily life, which will enable us to persevere with joy and hope.
The particularly telling power of this Gospel is to remind us that we are being invited to take to heart the teaching of the Gospel, to declare our faith with our life, to enable our prayer ‘Our Father’ to be expressed in our deeds. More than this, Jesus challenges the closed minds and the self-sufficiency of those who are rich, powerful or proud. He takes issue with our own complacency and egoism each time the Gospel is proclaimed. In the Opening Prayer we have prayed that we will receive true freedom and an everlasting inheritance as we move on as the Prayer after Communion prays for an eternal share in God’s life.
The picture that Isaiah gives in the first Reading is one, probably more powerful in the dry, barren lands of the Middle East, where water becomes such a powerful commodity, turning the dryness into fruitfulness of plants and animals, nourishing and washing human beings with water.
In his recent Encyclical on the Environment Pope Francis challenges us in showing that our divisions between rich and poor mean that a quarter of the world’s population lives below the poverty line with insufficient food and insufficient water. That is why the Pope says that our care for the environment, which we provide for our brothers and sisters, is a man-made problem and we do need to address it.
Perhaps we might reflect on what the Pope is asking of us:
Do we waste paper thrown out rather than recycled?
Do we have something for a while and then throw it away?
Do we have a mentality of consuming energy?
Do we use too much air conditioning or heating?
Do we respond simply to the Pope’s invitation to a lifestyle which is more focussed on ourselves as human beings?
Saint James even highlights the way in which we make distinctions between one lot of people and another and at the end he gives the strong challenge that those who are poor according to the world God has chosen to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom which he promised to those who love him.
So, faith and love are the yardstick by which we follow Jesus. We come to him with our sicknesses, our struggles, our needs, we find healing because he is the light of the world and is offering us the light of life.
+ Denis J. Hart,
ARCHBISHOP OF MELBOURNE.