Mass for the celebration of wedding anniversaries, Saint Patrick’s Cathedral

Sunday 31 July 2016

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

This homily might well be entitled, ‘You can’t take it with you’. The industrialist and philanthropist, John D. Rockefeller, lived from 1839 to 1937, founding the Standard Oil Company, becoming the world’s first billionaire, but spent the last forty years of his life creating foundations to help medicine, education and scientific research. He was a very shy man and when he died at the age of ninety-eight someone asked his closest aides how much he had left behind and the aide replied, ‘he left all of it’.

The same thing can be said of the famous pianist, Liberace, who died in 1987, leaving behind five houses and eight overloaded warehouses full of the things he could not fit into his residences.

Perhaps more telling is the famous musician and philanthropist who had degrees in medicine, philosophy and theology and went to work as a missionary, who said this, “We must be in this world without being of this world, for we are summoned to belong to another world, the eternal and spiritual world from which we come and to which we return when we have fulfilled our earthly pilgrimage.” (The Schweitzer Album, Harper & Row, NY, 1965)

Seeking the higher things and the things above strikes an appropriate balance for us believers who are to be the leaven of this world, but not polluted by it. It helps us to raise ourselves above the world and to follow Jesus himself. Jesus promises the true bread, which comes down from heaven and then says, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never be hungry. He who believes in me will never thirst.” (John 6:35)

The presence of so many married couples, who come with joy and hope to thank God for the gift of each other today, reminds us that the fruit of the Eucharist is love demonstrated to others. The total giving of self in marriage teaches us that our being “for” each other is fruitful in family members and in many gifts. God has given us each other – for that we thank him. Here in the Eucharist we remember how Jesus gave himself to give us life and we too have to be “given” for our brothers and sisters.

Your life and mine, dear friends, will be judged by our relationship with Jesus. If we live from God’s Words, if we speak God’s Word, if we do God’s deeds, then his kingdom will be extended. He has promised that if we come to him, we will never be hungry and never thirsty. That is why his strength comes from the new life, which he gives – through the Eucharist and through married and family love.

May Jesus be with us in our hearts and in our lives forever.

+ Denis J. Hart,
Archbishop of Melbourne.
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