Rite of Election celebrated at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Melbourne

Sunday 18 February 2018

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

As we come, reflecting on God’s Word, we remember that God gives light to everyone who comes into this world and shows himself through the work of his hand. You have followed God’s light and the way of his Gospel now lies open before you.

We have read of God establishing a Covenant with Noah. His words apply to us: “I will be your God. You will be my people.” From the time of Noah God waited patiently for people to believe. In Baptism, through the rising of Jesus Christ we die to ourself and our old way of life and come to a new way made holy by Jesus in truth and goodness.

My dear friends, I welcome you with great warmth and recognise the steps accomplished by you over a number of months, I stress the importance of your encounter with the Word of God, which will transform your hearts and prepare you to be open to the Word announced in the Scriptures, made present to us through the sacramental life of the Church, and strengthened in us by the way of life, which means the observance of his two-fold command of love of God and neighbour, spelled out in the Ten Commandments of the Old Testament, given new life and vigour by Jesus, our Saviour.

Truly dear friends we have followed God’s light and the way of the Gospel lies open before us. In these last six weeks we are challenged to set our feet firmly on the path and acknowledge the living God who speaks to everyone. We are invited to walk in the light of Christ and learn to trust in his wisdom and to commit our lives daily to his care so that our belief may be wholehearted and permanent.

We know the waverings of the human heart. Even in this short time we realise that a constant focus on Jesus Christ is important. It is in this that we join the whole Church making pilgrimage through Lent. In the words of the Gospel, “The time has come and the kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent and believe the Good News.” (Mark 1:15)

The Lord is not only inviting us to have his attitudes to things and to people, but also challenging us that all of us need to repent and be converted. In Latin the word ‘convertere’ means to turn towards a person. Now we turn towards Jesus, conscious of our weakness, but knowing that He, who is the Lord of all, will sustain us on our journey.

Today we are invited to hear his Word so as to possess eternal life by journeying with us to know God and love our neighbour.

The purpose of our pilgrimage in Lent is to be guided to the fullness of truth that he has shown. The mind of Christ has to be our mind. Jesus himself died for sins to lead us to God. He was totally open to the Father. We have to be totally open to Jesus Christ and change our pattern of life to his teaching.

Often the Gospel will give us comfort in knowing God’s love. “We know and we believe that God has loved us first”, (1 John 4:16) as Pope Benedict has written to the whole Church in his first Letter. What we must also remember is that we are intelligent beings. Even when we are not comforted, but rather challenged by the Gospel, to have the courage to entrust ourselves to Jesus, to his Word, to his attitudes, only then will we and will our world be transformed. We will only have the vision of Christ, his power in our lives, his forgiveness when we fail.

For the Church each year, Lent is a pilgrimage from shadows to light, from obscurity to truth, from the reality of failure to the greatness of living in God’s presence.

May these gifts inspire us as, having heard his Word, we go forward to be accepted as catechumens for baptism or candidates for reception. Your ready acceptance of these challenges is a light and a gift to the whole Church, which encourages each of us to renew our faith and go forward to new life.

+ Denis J. Hart,
Archbishop of Melbourne.

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