Homilies

Mass for Sunday 17 August 2014

MASS CELEBRATED BY ARCHBISHOP DENIS HART AT ST PATRICK’S CATHEDRAL, MELBOURNE, ON SUNDAY, 17TH AUGUST, 2014, AT 11.00 A.M.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today’s Gospel is the only occasion when Jesus was ever outside of Palestine and outside Jewish territory.  For us it is the reminder that the Gospel is to go out to the whole world and we are caught up in its proclamation.

In an increasingly hostile and secular society we have to remember to be courageous and generous in carrying the Lord’s Word forward.

Wherever Jesus went the crowds would follow him.  He needed to escape from the danger of popularity.  Jesus is seeking a time of quiet before the turmoil at the end of his life.  He prepares himself for the final and decisive battle with evil, which would lead to his crucifixion.

Even in this remote place the woman comes, “Sir, Son of David, take pity on me.”  At first Jesus says nothing, then he rebuffs her, suggesting it is not proper to give food to the dogs.  Her persistence brought his final reply, “Woman you have great faith.  Let your wish be granted.”

Today we are challenged to see in the woman some vital encouragements to our faith.

First and foremost she had love.  In her heart there was the love for her child, which is always the reflection of God’s love for us.  It was love which made her approach this stranger, accept his silence, suffer rebuffs and still appeal.

 Secondly, the woman had faith which grew in contact with Jesus.  She called him first, Son of David, then later she called him, Lord.  We can see this woman’s faith growing as she is confronted with Christ until she saw him for what he was.  It was a faith which worshipped him as God.  Whenever we come to Jesus we must come first in adoration of his majesty and only then with the statement of our own need.

Three, the woman had indomitable persistence.  She prayed and never gave up.  She came because Jesus was not just a possible helper; she was his only hope.  She was in deadly earnest, prayer was not just a ritual form for her, it was the outpouring of a passionate desire.  She could not take no for an answer.  This reminds us of how too we must pray.

Four, the woman had a gift of cheerfulness, a faith in whose eyes there is always the light of hope, a faith which grew until it worshipped at God’s feet, a faith which could not help finding an answer to prayer. 

Jesus comes to us as the great healer and as we seek to draw close to him, let us remember that prayer must be the vital constant in our life because it is the words and deeds of our friendship with God and of our ability to grow in his life.

+ Denis J. Hart,

ARCHBISHOP OF MELBOURNE.

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