MASS CELEBRATED BY ARCHBISHOP DENIS
HART FOR THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY OF CATHOLIC RELIGIOUS AUSTRALIA AT THE PULLMAN HOTEL, MELBOURNE, ON TUESDAY, 24TH JUNE 2014 AT 5.00
P.M., SOLEMNITY OF SAINT JOHN THE BAPTIST.
Brothers and Sisters,
In the Gospel we have just read
Elizabeth and Zachary certainly learned to know the unexpected; the birth of
John to a mother in older age, the signs made by Zachary, which showed that
John was to be the first and greatest witness to Christ. His attractiveness drew crowds of people
listening to the message of repentance.
They followed him and yet it was he who would give way to Christ.
Many of you will know that when Pope
Francis spoke last November to consecrated women and men he invited you to wake
up the world, to promote growth in the Church by way of attraction, to be
witnesses, to leave the nest which encloses us in order to be sent.
In union with the Pope’s words I wish
to give my own testimony, having been educated by the Marist Brothers and
having had the Jesuits in parish, college and seminary, that Religious are a
tremendous gift to the Church in each Diocese.
Each of you, sisters and brothers, have a unique charism in your
Congregation, all focussed on Jesus Christ and flowering with great fruit when
we allow Jesus to speak through our life.
Pope Benedict emphasised the humility
which must always accompany our living our life and proclaiming of Jesus,
because it is the encounter with Jesus which transforms human life. So together we are not afraid to look at how
we can do this in a very changed world of today. Like the spectators at the birth of John we
can not only say ‘what will this child turn out to be because the hand of the
Lord was with him’, but what will our Congregations, our Church turn out to be
if we allow the hand of the Lord to be with us?
Friends, thank you for your
leadership, which is indeed a tremendous and often challenging gift of self in
the service of the relationship with Jesus, which each of us is now seeking to
deepen and is challenged by Pope Francis when he suggests that we remain
permanently in mission and that our encounter with Jesus is the light of our
darkness, the hope of our uncertainty, the reward of all our labours.
May Jesus live in your hearts forever.
+ Denis J. Hart,
ARCHBISHOP OF MELBOURNE.