Dear Brothers and Sisters,
This week we are preparing in earnest prayer for the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, as today we confer the Ministry of Acolyte on a number of our seminarians.
In the Gospel we have just read we realise that Jesus is no mere man. When the apostles went up to the mountain they fell down before Jesus in adoration. Suddenly they realised that the one whom they had loved as a teacher and as a friend, who had undergone the passion, shattered their confidence and restored it in his resurrection was now definitively to depart. Yet the promise that he gave was that through his Holy Spirit he would be with us down the centuries to this very day.
This was to be achieved by something that happened to each of us long ago; we would be baptised in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and that we would be disciples of Jesus.
I think it is important for us to remember that the disciples were the first friends of Jesus. He encouraged them from being humble fishermen to being great preachers of the Word. He supported them in their fear and timidity. Just imagine an ordinary person coming out and speaking in front of the great people of the day with all their education, their ability to ridicule them. Yet this is what Jesus did. He said: “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” For them this was a mission to go and extend his Church.
Today some of our young men are coming to receive the ministry of Acolyte. They will be Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist and therefore will be formed by the Eucharist for the days in which they will be ordained as deacons and priests. Others of us have to remember that that mission given to the apostles was meant to be shared; not only with those who were their immediate friends, but God has given a specific mission to bishops and priests to teach and sanctify and govern.
He has given a specific mission to parents to love and nurture and guide and support. He has given a specific mission to young people to discover the magnetic power of Christ to live always personally with him, to be nurtured and strengthened by the promised Holy Spirit whose coming we celebrate next Sunday. Whoever we may be, let us remember that God is offering us a special mission in our chosen vocation or career.
Like those who are to be Acolytes, young men could think about priesthood, others about a whole range of careers, but unless what we are doing becomes a real vocation, even the ordinary things that mothers and fathers do in the home and in their work, unless this becomes a real vocation for us then we are not responding to the magnetic gifts that Christ has given us to our full capacity. Let us be sure that Christ, who went to his Father, will come to take us with him. He will never compromise our freedom; he invites and encourages and welcomes us, but we need to trust him.
Today in seeing his Ascension we remember that our minds and hearts and lives have to be for things above or else we will not realise our full capacity.
+ Denis J. Hart,
ARCHBISHOP OF MELBOURNE.