MASS CELEBRATED BY ARCHBISHOP DENIS HART AT ST PATRICK’S CATHEDRAL, MELBOURNE,
ON SUNDAY 5 OCTOBER 2008, AT 11AM.
My dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today the Church proposes for us the very realistic fact that the Church can be a sign of contradiction. She was founded on Jesus the rejected cornerstone. The people of the everyday world wanted to go their own way and yet Jesus was the foundation that remained firm.
We are invited in the liturgy today to found our lives on him and to open our hearts to being his instruments in whatever he wants to achieve through us.
This requires a conversion of heart as we call to mind our sins and ask him for light and strength.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Both the first Reading and the Gospel use an agricultural image to underline the challenge of faithfulness, which is given to each one of us; in the same way as a farmer or a gardener needs to work hard to grow plants or fruits, in a similar way that a householder cares for the house, prepares meals, does the washing and cleaning, in the same way as a student remains faithful to study and to what they are called to be. So today the Word of God invites us to be faithful to God in whatever may be the path of life that we are invited to follow.
Pope Benedict spoke recently to priests and seminarians in Bressanone, asking them as I know he asks us to look at how our day is structured so that we do have opportunities for God to have access to us, so that we continuously receive the breath of the Holy Spirit. He says: “If we do this then something happens to us. The day acquires a form and its light shines from us because it mirrors our soul.”
We have to remember that faith does not involve only a supernatural aspect. It rebuilds us, bringing us back to humanity. It is based on the natural virtues of honesty, joy, the willingness to listen to our neighbour, the ability to forgive, generosity, goodness and cordiality among people. Human virtues show that faith is truly present, that we are really with Christ, so that by carrying out our human tasks well and correctly, in respect of our neighbour, being concerned for others, is the best way of existing for ourselves.
Today in Rome the Pope is beginning with selected bishops of the Church a Synod on The Word of God. Friends, we know that the Eucharist and the Scriptures - the Word of God, are the two bases of our Christian faith. Both are essential and the purpose of this meeting of the Pope and bishops is to try and get us to appreciate, celebrate and use the Scriptures reverently and effectively so that God’s Word really will touch our heart.
This is what I mean by being faithful. The will of God for us now, his plan, our way to holiness, is the particular state in life that he has given us, the use of the particular gifts he has given us, the way in which we see them as a service to others. There is a contrast between the faithfulness of the landowner at the start of the Gospel and the first Reading and the ruination which follows if we turn away from God. God’s Word is there to prune and re-focus us, to remind us that our whole life is a journey of conversion, of turning from self to Jesus and to others, of growing in the appreciation of who God is as Lord of our life and what we can do to serve generously and enrich the lives of those around us.
The Gospel Acclamation reminds us that we are God’s friends and his love for us, as the prayers says, goes far beyond all our hopes and desires. By knowing conversion, turning to God, knowing we are forgiven, then we will be given a peace and a hope which is not merely