Mass for the conferring of Diplomas to catechists


“Zacchaeus come down.  Hurry for I must stay at your house today.” (Luke 19.6)
My dear Friends,
There is a sense of urgency about the use of that word, todayToday, a Saviour is born for us … Today, salvation has come to this house …  Today, you will be with me in paradise.
The challenge given to Zacchaeus and the urgency of response for all of us is the pivotal concept of today’s Readings.  Pope John Paul presented us with this sense of urgency and freshness in his letter at the beginning of the new millennium.  While recounting many of the experiences of the Jubilee, he used this touching picture:
“I have often stopped to look at the long queues of pilgrims waiting patiently to go through the Holy Door.  In each of them I try to imagine the story of a life made up of joys, worries, suffering; the story of someone whom Christ met and who, in dialogue with him, was setting out again on a journey of hope.”
This is why from Pope Francis we see that seeking the face of Christ is of paramount importance.  We accept the challenge of personal holiness and then, with our trust firm in God, launch out into the deep of bringing the Good News to others by word and example. 
Just as Zacchaeus was invited, “Hurry because I must stay at your house today”, Jesus invites us to welcome him as our God and Lord.  Only you and I can let him into our lives.
Starting afresh from Christ begins with the image of his Holy Face.  Our God is not a faceless, abstract entity:  we can “put a face” to him.  Most powerfully, we have the inseparable images of the smiling baby, the bleeding face crowned with thorns and the shining, transfigured face of the Risen Lord.  A face; joyful, sorrowful and glorious.  Here alone our age finds consolation in human sorrow and hope for the future.  The Pope is challenging each of us to meet with Jesus Christ at a personal level.  To proclaim with Peter, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 
I am convinced that one of the great needs of our society is that of spiritual enthusiasm and constancy in the life of faith.  Our age has tended to diminish and do away with the historical concreteness of Jesus’ humanity. 
We must remember what the Fathers of the Church regularly said, “It is only because the Son of Man became truly man that humanity in him and through him can become a child of God.  In Christ, humanity has its dignity and purpose.  Without Christ, we wander in confusion and darkness.”
When Jesus invites us to meet him in prayer, reflect upon his word, to know his inspiration in the details of daily life, to know his saving power in the dead for whom we pray, we remember that he always invites us to go further.  “I am with you always to the close of the age.”  Our experience of the Jubilee, our response to these Readings and to the Pope’s invitation, is to gain a new impetus in our Christian living, day by day, making it the force which inspires our journey of faith. 
We can say honestly “we wish to see Jesus”.  The men and women of our own day often perhaps unconsciously ask believers not only “to speak” of Christ, but in a certain sense “to show” him to them.  This means our own time is a very special one so that our gaze is more firmly set on the face of the Lord.  Courageously, we go with him to the cross and resurrection and we start afresh with him as the Church seeks to grapple with a new emphasis on Christ, on prayer and personal holiness with our parishes and families, schools of prayer, and then entrust ourselves to him as his witnesses in the world.  
This does present us with the certainly that not only will he provide the call, but give us the means to fulfil it. 
For those who are coming to receive Catechist Diplomas you have shown a strong profession of your own faith, a readiness to equip yourselves to be communicators of that faith, but always to live under the Gospel.  This entails a gift of self with peace and joy and the reassurance that God will walk with you at every moment.  I know it is a launch out into the unknown.
To me, to launch out into the deep means to leave aside my comfort zone, to entrust myself completely to Christ, whom I have come to know at a personal level.  My friendship with him in prayer nourishes and deepens that relationship so that I am given a courage and strength that I do not even imagine.  In the words of Saint Francis de Sales:
“Do not look forward to what might happen tomorrow; the same everlasting Father who cares for you today, will take care of you tomorrow and every day.  Either he will shield you from suffering or he will give you unfailing strength to bear it.  Be at peace then and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginings.”
+ Denis J. Hart,
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