Celebrated By Archbishop Denis Hart
at St Patrick's Cathedral, Melbourne
on Monday, 25th December, 2006 at 11.00amIntroduction
“I bring you Good News of great joy. To you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord.”
I welcome you, dear friends, to Saint Patrick’s as we celebrate the feast of Christmas, hearing the angels proclamation that the Lord born for us, light in our darkness, may enter our homes, our cities, our nation.
Today, we are united with all our brothers and sisters throughout the world and with Pope Benedict XVI in whose name I will give the Papal Blessing at the end of Mass.
In unity of faith and in repentance for our sins, let us ask the Lord to fill our hearts with joy as we begin this Mass.Homily
“Wake up O man! For your sake God became man.”
(Saint Augustine, Sermon 185)
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The Lord has become one of us. He has taken our humanity and urges us to be alert to the fact that our God is near. The God who spoke to us through prophets in ancient times now comes in a much more personal way in his Son. Born in abject poverty, in the weakness of a newborn baby, the Great God comes to meet us.
Pope Benedict reminded the Church last Christmas and he has constantly taken this theme throughout the year, that “The modern age is often seen as an awakening of reason from its slumbers, humanity’s enlightenment after an age of darkness. Yet, without the light of Christ, the light of reason is not sufficient to enlighten humanity and the world.”
Jesus is described as the true Light who enlightens everyone coming into the world. (John 1:9) Forty years ago the Second Vatican Council said, “It is only in the mystery of the Word made flesh that the mystery of humanity truly becomes clear.” (Gaudium et Spes, No. 22)
Above all, the birth of Christ, the baby in Bethlehem, leads us beyond mere human weakness to see that God is not to be found in the things that the world holds dear. Our society is changing and is secular and materialist in a way that cannot bring true satisfaction and joy.
Today’s feast opens out to us the reality of God in our midst and in the words of Saint Augustine, “Our hearts were made for the Lord and they find no peace until they rest in him.” Rather than the Church’s counter-cultural witness being misunderstood as something backward and negative, we have a positive Good News to give; the life-giving and life-enhancing message of the Gospel. (Cf. John 10:10)
As we know and love the Lord he invites us to put our trust in him, to be a family called to foster trust and mutual support, a united humanity to confront the many problems of our time – the menace of terrorism, the humiliating poverty in which millions of humans live, the proliferation of weapons and so many challenges.
In a society, which seeks to promote merely utilitarian objectives, our respect for life from conception to natural death must be paramount. Otherwise, human beings are devalued and become subject to the whim of individuals without the guiding principles, which underpin our society. Where respect for life, a valuing of family, an awareness of human dignity, a thirst for justice and a striving for peace exists, that society will flourish because it is in accordance with the plan of God that we would work our journey through this life to eternity.
The child hidden beneath the poverty of swaddling clothes is the Creator of the universe, reduced to the helplessness of an infant. It is incumb