Homilies

Mass for Sunday 15 September 2013

MASS CELEBRATED BY ARCHBISHOP DENIS HART AT SAINT PATRICK’S CATHEDRAL, MELBOURNE,
ON SUNDAY, 15 SEPTEMBER 2013 AT 11A.M.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
 
Some of you may remember Allan Paton’s book, “Cry the Beloved Country”.  Stephen Kumalo, a Zulu pastor serving in a remote village in Natal, lost his son, Absalom, who had gone to Johannesburg and never returned.  The story follows Kumalo through the streets of the big South African city on a search made even more difficult by racial prejudice and intolerance.  When the father finally finds his son he learns that he spent time in a reformatory and will soon be tried for murder. 
 
Nothing seems to send a shudder through society as the abduction of a baby or child.  Statistics say that murders of an abducted child are rare.  When the return of the child comes, a rejoicing that cannot be measured marks that homecoming.  These very human incidents and perhaps some of our own city or suburb can be a reminder that God is one who loves and welcomes back. 
 
Even when the people of Israel worshipped the golden calf God called them back.  Saint Paul reflected his own earlier life of loss and sin and the change brought about by meeting Christ on the road to Damascus.
 
Notice in today’s Gospel that Saint Luke refers to the prodigal son twice as being dead.  Yet there is something worse than death; being lost and alienated from a forgiving God.  So also there is something better than life; being found and welcomed home by God.
 
The challenge to discipleship today calls us back from wherever we may be.  “To serve you with all our heart and know your forgiveness in our lives”, the Prayer.  Or “I will rise and go to my Father”, (Luke 15:18) Psalm.  “The Good News of reconciliation he has entrusted to us.”  (Alleluia)

Our God is always reconciling and in the words of Cardinal Newman, “He is our Shepherd, and the sheep know his voice.  If we are his sheep, we shall hear it, recognise it, and obey it.  Let us beware of not following where he goes before or of receiving his grace in vain.” 
 
When God called Samuel he answered, “Speak Lord your servant is listening.”  When Christ called Saint Paul he was not disobedient to the heavenly vision.
 
Today’s challenge is to pray, in Newman’s words, “for the gift of watchful ears, a willing heart, a readiness to follow, each with our gifts and talents in responding to the unique call which Our Lord continues to give us.”
 
+ Denis J. Hart,
ARCHBISHOP OF MELBOURNE.
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