Homilies

Mass for the Guild of St Stephen - Friday 23 May 2014

MASS CELEBRATED BY ARCHBISHOP DENIS HART AT SAINT PATRICK’S CATHEDRAL, MELBOURNE, ON FRIDAY 23RD MAY 2014 AT 7.30 P.M. FOR THE GUILD OF SAINT STEPHEN

My dear young Friends,

Jesus himself reminds us, “I am with you always to the close of the age.” (Matthew 28:20).  Many Melbourne priests, and I with them, rejoice at being in the presence of young people.  Your hope and enthusiasm for life, your sincerity and openness, your obvious love of Jesus, are very significant.

As servers you have distinguished yourselves in this love.  What may have begun as an invitation to start helping on the altar is often a very powerful way of Jesus inviting you into a deeper friendship with him.  You begin by learning the actions needed to help the priest and you develop into a much richer awareness that through prayer and listening to God’s Word.   Jesus does become our friend who is with us to the close of the age.

As young people you like mixing with other young people of similar interests.  I have always enjoyed my visits to your Annual Conference, where young people make new friends and find support in those common interests.  In other servers, like yourselves, you find people who are looking for something deeper.  Jesus gives you a wonderful invitation to know him and love him and by your faith-filled service on the altar, to receive a gift which is fundamental to life.  Jesus is our God, he is the centre, he is the light of the world, he is the one who shows us the way.  He is the gate into God’s love. 

Tonight as we celebrate this Mass I do so with a wonderful thankfulness for you and for your enthusiasm.  Remember that the love that Jesus shows you invites you always to go a little further, to live in his way, to do what is right and reject those things which are hurtful and evil.  It is a wonderful invitation to give hope to the world.

I believe that our parishes and our world need each and every one of you being hope-filled and joyful, your openness to good, your readiness to serve the Church.  You are not alone as tonight’s Mass reminds you.  There are so many other people who are walking with you, who want to share the hope which you offer.

The first followers of Jesus made one great request of him because they realised who he was.  They said, “Lord, teach us to pray.”  (Luke 11:1)  Just like we enjoy our friends, so by really trying to think of God when we pray it becomes our conversation with him and he will support us and help us.  People today are looking for something which is much deeper and through prayer you and I find that our God is near; indeed, for all time.  That is why as young people not only what you do as a server is important, but what you are in your home, your school, your parish, your community is also important.

Jesus loves you and he understands you.  He wants you to trust him as your friend, to know that you can talk to him in prayer just like you talk to your close friends on the phone or travelling or in the yard.  Jesus will be your friend and he will never give up on you.  That was the lesson Saint Stephen learned.  Although life was hard and he ended up being killed, the love of God never left him.  He was filled with hope and joy.  That is what you and I can give to the world.  It is the special invitation that Jesus gives to you as servers.

+ Denis J. Hart,

ARCHBISHOP OF MELBOURNE.

 
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