Mass celebrated for the migrant chaplains at the Croatian Church, Geelong, on Wednesday, 2 December
Dear Brothers in the Priesthood,
I am deeply conscious of the service which you as migrant chaplains give the people of our Archdiocese. You travel huge distances, you go wherever you are needed, you are faithful and faith-filled to your people and often as they get older you are the only one who provides a faith-filled vision for them.
The first Reading today speaks, of course, of the hope of the great banquet of eternity which we offer to all our people. I know that you constantly wipe away the tears from people’s cheeks. You remind people that God is the one in whom we hope for salvation and we rejoice because he has saved us. That is the constant message that you offer to your people. As we move over to the Gospel we see the magnetic value of the person of Jesus, who is our inspiration in prayer and the light of our preaching and working. Wherever there is human suffering, there is Jesus.
In the great Year of Mercy which is about to begin we are invited to remember that in proclaiming the extraordinary journey of mercy Pope Francis quoted the words of Saint John XXIII: “Now the bride of Christ wishes to use the medicine of mercy rather than taking up the arms of severity.” He similarly reminds us that mercy will always be greater than any sin and no one can place limits on the love of God, who is ever ready to forgive.
Throughout the Old Testament God is described as patient and merciful. Today’s Gospel illustrating the giving of the loaves and fishes is an important encouragement for our ministry. In the words of the Psalm we have to heal the broken-hearted, to lift up the downtrodden, to feel deep compassion for those who are tired and exhausted; this is surely the meaning of the Gospel, where Our Lord drew the crowd to him and fed them with loaves and fishes.
Fathers, I thank you for your readiness to draw people to Jesus, to feed them with the Eucharist, with God’s love and God’s mercy, knowing that God is near to save us.
Thank you for your work. Thank you for your collaboration in Melbourne by which I feel stronger and the Church is enriched.
+ Denis J. Hart,
ARCHBISHOP OF MELBOURNE.