Mass for Sunday 1 September
MASS CELEBRATED BY ARCHBISHOP DENIS HART AT SAINT PATRICK’S CATHEDRAL, MELBOURNE,
ON SUNDAY, 1ST SEPTEMBER 2013 AT 11.00 A.M.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
“God in your goodness you have made a home for the poor.”
(Psalm 67, Verse 11)
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
We have just read the Gospel story where Jesus presents an unconditional invitation to a feast without any expectation of return. How this cuts across our conceptions of social life and our expectation of getting something back for everything we do. Humility or the truth about ourselves is something that we find seems to elude us.
An American writer, Annie Dillard, wrote in 1982 that Christians have become unfamiliar with humility and this shows when they come for prayers. She says tellingly, “On the whole I don’t find Christians outside the catacombs sufficiently aware or sensitive as to the business of being and believing. Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we invoke? The sleeping God may awake some day and take offence or the waking God may draw us out to where we can never return. The lack of awareness that we bring to worship and life contrasts with what Jesus and Sirach propose to us; conducting our affairs with humility.”
Pope Saint Leo the Great stressed that gentleness goes with poverty, pride more commonly with riches and yet very many rich people do use their wealth for works of charity rather than means of pride. This spirit of humility counts among the greatest profits what it spends in relieving distress and hardship in others.”
In my view one of the greatest clues to humility is in fact reverence at the greatness of God, at the wonder of what we do when we celebrate the Eucharist because it brings a deep understanding of our human limitation. Therefore we look at those things which are beyond our control and our full understanding, especially God, with reverence. As we reverence God then we will have the capacity to see him and reverence him in our fellow human beings.
Our Lord called us as disciples to be aware that without God we are absolute beggars. We have nothing. And yet he gives so wonderfully that by becoming gentle and lowly in heart we can use with love and hope all that he gives us.
Today let us ponder our need for humility, the truth about ourselves, for reverence and wonder at God, who so lavishly gives his gifts that we have no means to be afraid and we might well pray the prayer of Saint Thomas More, who was beheaded when he refused to support the divorce of Henry VIII.
“Glorious God, give me grace to amend my life and an eye to my end without begrudging death, which to those who die in you good Lord, is the gate of a wealthy life. And give me Lord, a humble, lowly, quiet, peaceable, patient, kind and tender mind, in all my works and all my words and all my thoughts … these things good Lord that I pray for, give me your grace to labour for.”
As the gifted Thomas More learnt humility and reverence, may we be inspired by him, that the Eucharist we celebrate may accomplish within us the promise of salvation and challenge us to take the necessary means, which our provident Lord generously offers.
+ Denis J. Hart,
ARCHBISHOP OF MELBOURNE.