Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I have always thought it was significant that it was Saint Peter who would acknowledge that Jesus is the Christ of God. We must remember that Peter was a weak and sinful man, who denied Our Lord and was given by Our Lord the opportunity to profess his faith in him. This shows us the pattern of human life and also the readiness and possibility that we have to be converted and turn to God.
So, today, the Lord promises through his prophet, Zaccharia, that a spirit of kindness and prayer will descend upon his people. This has particular force in the Year of Mercy because it shows us that the mercy that we have received from God we carry with us all our life and we are invited to offer to others.
Mercy is a readiness to overlook the faults and insults that we sometimes suffer. Mercy is the ability to open our heart to others whom we may not find congenial. We do all this because of our profession that Jesus is Lord of our life, destined to suffer grievously and because we acknowledge that he is our God. We long for him, we are all sons and daughters of God. The challenge of course is for us to live our lives in the presence of God, keeping him near in attitude and deed so that we will in fact go forward professing and living a faith which is life-giving, which carries us through all the ups and downs of daily living.
Our Lord’s own words: “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me”, are a reminder of our need to be attentive, that our thirsting and longing for God, our seeing his strength and his glory, our knowledge that he will help us always, is part of the thirst that we have for him.
But remember life is not always easy. Our Lord said: “If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let that person renounce himself and take up his cross every day and follow me. Anyone who loses his life for Jesus’ sake and the sake of the Gospel will save it.” So amidst the struggles and challenges of life Jesus is the great constant. Amid these challenges we want to know him and follow him. Amid the disappointments and struggles that we have he is the one who will never desert us.
May Jesus live in our hearts forever.
+ Denis J. Hart,
Archbishop of Melbourne.