MASS CELEBRATED BY ARCHBISHOP DENIS HART AT SAINT PATRICK’S CATHEDRAL, MELBOURNE, ON SUNDAY, 7TH DECEMBER, 2014, AT 11.00 A.M.
Brothers and Sisters,
Often we can see a contrast between
John the Baptist and Jesus. John was a
fire-eater. He told it as it was. He strongly called people to repentance. His message came clearly and loudly across
Jesus speaks the same message, but it
is an invitation, shown with compassion, with respect for free will and with
hope that the goodness innate in people will come to the surface.
John the Baptist does invite us to see
the problems of our injustice and intolerance.
The fact that ten percent of the world’s population own ninety percent
of its human resources; poverty, dissension, wars, seem to abound.
Yet the Christian presence in the world is one which focuses
on light rather than on the shadows which are there. It invites us to live by the light and to be
spiritually renewed. To put the axe to
the root of the tree of sin in our lives.
To turn to the Lord in opening our lives to him and receiving
forgiveness. To lead us away from the
domain of sin into the domain of love, which is as strong as death. Of love who is like a flash of fire.
Perhaps we have not imagined that
Jesus’ coming into our lives can bring joy, hope, challenge and a new way of
living, which is life-giving; that he can inspire our work, our studies, our
relationships with others, the way in which we conduct our business. It was G. K. Chesterton who said, “The main
thing wrong with Catholicism is that it has not been tried.”
This year we seek to remember that
Jesus is really and personally present among us in the Eucharist and in his
Real Presence in the church, we might also remember that our response to Jesus
is a response to a person.
We can face this with courage. However, he calls us to be instruments of
what he proposes for the world. “Justice
shall flourish in his time and fullness of peace forever, so that united in
mind and voice you may give glory to God the Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ;”
or of John the Baptist, “A voice cries in the wilderness, prepare a way for the
Lord, make his paths straight.” (Matthew
The critical realisation is that we
are nothing without the Lord. Because we
are so weak it is his mercy which sustains us and makes us instruments of a new
world, where justice, peace and truth are the guiding criteria. We are challenged to work for this in our
families and our communities. We know
that only this will bring the joy coming from our God and enable us to see his
salvation, his new life, offered to each of us.
Lying behind all this is the hope, nay, the truth, that each of us, even
in this modern, busy world, can make a difference and be ambassadors of our
loving and saving God.
+ Denis J. Hart,
ARCHBISHOP OF MELBOURNE.