Mass celebrated at Tarrawarra Abbey, 29 September
MASS CELEBRATED BY ARCHBISHOP DENIS HART AT TARRAWARRA ABBEY, YARRA GLEN,
ON SUNDAY 29TH SEPTEMBER 2013 AT 10.00 A.M.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I am honoured to worship with the community and friends of Tarrawarra as we seek to empty ourselves, being filled with love of God and service of others.
Today’s Gospel might well be titled, Did we notice? One Chicago newspaper developed a special file on complacency. Some of its many entries told the story of an injured American postal worker. When he sought assistance in a nearby office building he was ordered from the reception desk because he was dripping blood on the carpet. Another story told of a woman giving birth in the street. A taxi driver slowed down to look and then sped away. A nearby hotel refused a blanket. To stand by, look and do nothing is more than complacency; it is going along with evil.
In today’s first Reading the prophet, Amos, levelled the two charges of complacency and complicity at the wealthy people of Israel.
So also the rich man in today’s Gospel. He never openly hurt Lazarus; he did not chase him from the gate, he did not beat the poor, sick beggar, he did not report him to the police. He did not receive a sentence of condemnation simply because he was rich; he was condemned to be in the abode of the dead because he had never even noticed Lazarus.
The challenge, which the Church gives us today, is that we can live our lives so completely wrapped up in ourselves, our piety, the demands of our life and our agenda that we are insensitive to other people and their needs. We are wrapped up with doing and having, rather than the realisation that everything in fact that we have is God’s gift.
Pope Francis is constantly reminding us, as the spiritual writer Bossuet remarked, “In the Church the rich are strangers. It is the poor they serve, who grant them citizenship.” Turning to Our Lord’s own language, how hard it is for those who have riches, how hard it is for those who trust in things, to enter the kingdom of God.
You and I then are challenged to ask ourselves honestly before God, is it in things, possessions, our timetable, our leisure, our agenda of life that we place our trust, or are we prepared to be more fragile? Are we prepared to realise that we do depend on God and everything we have is his gift.
We have Moses and the prophets, even the witness of Jesus who rose from the dead, but do we really see and listen to those who need our help, our word, our support, our prayer? Saint Paul’s letter to Timothy lays out for us today the demands of Christian life: integrity, piety, faith, love, steadfastness, a gentle spirit. As we strive to persevere in these virtues, Jesus is asking us to look at our behaviour. Are we a having rather than a being society?
If we see that what we have is something that comes from God then we will not be afraid to use it. Are we complacent, do we put our own needs first, or are we ready to risk being involved with others and making our contribution, small though it may be?
Father James Keller, the founder of the Christopher Movement, said of our contribution, “It is easier to light a candle than to curse the darkness.” Today, the Lord invites us to realise the value of the call we have and to see its purpose to be used to build up the world in which we live, because each one of us is made in God’s image and likeness. Monks do this by constantly bringing the families and people of our city before our compassionate God in prayer and sacrifice. Of this we can be certain. The beauty of people lies in their diversity and in the way the humble use of our gifts can enrich the lives of those around about us. This is the challenge today. Are we complacent or alert?
+ Denis J. Hart,
ARCHBISHOP OF MELBOURNE.