22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
MASS CELEBRATED BY ARCHBISHOP DENIS HART AT SAINT PATRICK’S CATHEDRAL, MELBOURNE, ON SUNDAY 31 AUGUST 2008, AT 11AM.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The Readings of the Mass today remind us that we are disciples of Jesus, we must know him as Master and follow him.
We cannot eliminate the cross of salvation from our life, no more than Christ could. Jesus invites us to use the standard of the cross.
Let us call to mind our sins and embrace the invitation, which Jesus makes, to give of ourselves for the life of the world.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The three Readings today each provide pictures of heroes who were not afraid to go beyond normal expectations. In the Gospel we have the telling words that ‘if anyone wants to be a follower of mine, Jesus says, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me’.
We must be realistic in what we confront. Pope Benedict reminded the priests and seminarians in Sydney on 19th July: “All too often we find ourselves immersed in a world that would set God aside. In the name of human freedom and autonomy God’s name is passed over in silence, religion is reduced to private devotion and faith is shunned in the public square. At times this mentality so completely at odds with the core of the Gospel can even cloud our understanding of the Church and her mission.
We too can be tempted to make the life of faith a matter of mere sentiment, thus blunting its power to inspire a consistent vision of the world and a rigorous dialogue with the many other visions competing for the minds and hearts of our contemporaries. Yet history, including the history of our own time, shows that the question of God will never be silenced and that indifference to the religious dimension of human existence ultimately diminishes and betrays man himself. Faith teaches us that in Jesus we come to understand. We know that in the end, as Saint Ignatius of Loyola saw so clearly, the only real standard against which all human reality can be measured is the Cross and its message of an unmerited love which triumphs over evil, sin and death, creating a new life and unfading joy. The Cross reveals that we find ourselves only by giving our lives away, receiving God’s love as an unmerited gift and working to draw all men and women into the beauty of that love and the light of the truth which alone brings salvation to the world.” (Pope Benedict XVI, St Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney, 19th July 2008)
Both Jeremiah and Jesus looked into their deepest self and found the courage to keep on proclaiming in the face of opposition his own belief. In this Year of Saint Paul we see his writings too as our inspiration. Courage shines through his words and lights our way. Being a disciple means placing Christ in the first place. “Think of God’s mercy and worship him.”
Paul will again remind us that the mind of Jesus being fixed on the love of his Father, fixed on the mission God gave him to do is a constant call to value what God asks each one of us: “that we might see how great is the hope to which we are called”. (Saint Paul to the Ephesians 1:18)
The Opening Prayer of the Mass reminds us that God alone is the giver of gifts. This is to inspire love and faith and to make us know that we are protected by his constant care. Discipleship means fixing our life on Jesus. Pope Benedict says that love and hope are the two great constants in the life to which we are invited. To see through the darkness the light of hope and truth shining even when times are challenging. That is the way God thinks. It is not always the way man thinks.
Our challenge as disciples is not merely for a personal reward, but for a vision which we share with others because Christ is all in all for us. May Jesus live and work in our hearts and lives, now and always.
+ Denis J. Hart,
Archbishop of Melbourne