Mass for Sunday 7 September 2014


“Lord, look upon us, give us true freedom and bring us to the inheritance you promised.”

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

There is no doubt that wrongdoing harms families, communities and the Church.  Indeed, in our day there has been such an influence on the individual that the responsibility that we have as a community to try and keep others on the way of Christ can sometimes be neglected.  “These Christians, see how they love one another” brings another more important requirement of unity and togetherness within the Church.  Because the Church was born of God’s love it had to be a fellowship of love where each one is responsible for the faith and holiness of their brothers and sisters.

To eliminate evil and misunderstanding among Christians a whole gradual process was adopted; prudence, care to allow scope for listening and dialogue, so that each one might receive every opportunity of remaining in fellowship with the others.  The Christian community is not like an ordinary tribunal – punishing the guilty and condemning them – but it looks beyond justice to mercy in order to absolve and reconcile.  Just as our God knows of what we are made and knows when we fail in our weakness.  It is God who loved us first, who wants to forgive us if at all possible and to reconcile us with our brothers and sisters.  Even when the sinner persisted in his error, the Church would keep him in prayer.

Indeed, the effectiveness of our community prayer depends upon the harmony within the community, upon the presence within it of Jesus who intercedes for us and makes his own our prayer.  The last words of the Gospel, “where two or three meet in my name I shall be there with them”, can be applied above all to the prayer of the Mass.

The Second Vatican Council said in the Constitution on the Liturgy, “Christ is always present in each church, especially in her liturgy.  He is present in the sacrifice of the Mass, not only in the person of his minister.  The same one who offers through the ministry of priests is the same one who gave himself on the cross and is present especially above all in the Eucharistic species.”  In the Sacraments when a man baptises it is Christ himself who baptises.  It is Christ who speaks when the Scriptures are read in church and when the Church prays and sings he gives us the assurance that he is in the midst of us.

We might well examine ourselves today to see whether we are indeed one in the way that Jesus wants us to be.  As we are associated with Jesus in his work of living praise to God, so too that work is extended by all who are united in his name.  Remember the difference between loving and liking.  In the Mass today we draw strength from the perfect offering of Christ on the cross, knowing that we are united in his name, challenged to listen to his voice with open hearts, working to occur the debt of mutual love and being his instruments by our words and deeds to unite and reconcile our brothers and sisters to Jesus and to his Church. 

So often the Church has been misunderstood because of the subjective comments of people who find the challenge that we offer too hard.  So often the Church has been misunderstood because of the subjective comments of people who find the challenge that we offer too hard.  Yet in Jesus we find perfect justice, so that which is right is done, linked with mercy and compassion that draws people’s hearts like a magnet.  Jesus always associates us in the Church in the great work of giving praise to God and making men holy.  This is the spirit of this encounter with Christ, which leads us to continue the search which will end in eternal life.

+ Denis J. Hart,

Archbishop of Melbourne.


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