27th Sunday in Ordinary Time

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time

MASS CELEBRATED BY ARCHBISHOP DENIS HART AT ST PATRICK’S CATHEDRAL, MELBOURNE, ON SUNDAY 5 OCTOBER 2008, AT 11AM. INTRODUCTION 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...

Mass for World Youth Day pilgrims



My dear young friends,

Welcome to Saint Patrick’s, our church, where together we praise Jesus, acknowledging the wonderful events of Days in the Diocese and World Youth Day.

I am tremendously encouraged by your youthful enthusiasm as today we remember that it is Jesus whom we seek in our life.  It is he who will give us light for our world, will lead us beyond our hopes and desires and help us to make a new world and to discover his plan for each of us.

As we call to mind our sins, let us ask the Lord for pardon, light and strength.


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Where were you when, the first man walked on the moon, when the disaster of 9/11 happened, when Pope John Paul II was shot, when the Pope was at Randwick in 2008?  Perhaps you could make your own list of special events in your lives because I know that for me being with Pope Benedict in Sydney was a wonderful, electrifying moment.  I was lucky to travel around Australia with Pope John Paul in 1986, but I will never forget the joy and exuberance that welcomed the Pope in Sydney, and yet the silence and wonder that accompanied us as he led us in Eucharistic Adoration.

Pope Benedict said these words at the Randwick Mass:  “I have come to confirm you my young brothers and sisters in your faith and to encourage you to open your hearts to the power of Christ’s spirit and the richness of his gifts.” … At each Mass the Holy Spirit comes anew, invoked by the solemn prayer of the Church, not only to transform our gifts of bread and wine into the Lord’s Body and Blood, but also to transform our lives to make us in his power one Body one Spirit in Christ.”  Later in his homily the Pope went on to say that in today’s Gospel Jesus proclaims a new age has begun in which the Holy Spirit will be poured out on all people.

In today’s Gospel the stone the builders rejected which became the cornerstone shows us that it is not how this world looks at things, but the true reality of how Jesus looks at us and looks at our lives.  When we say we believe in Jesus Christ as Lord of our life, things immediately change.  The Pope said the same thing of the Holy Spirit, that he would touch us and lead us in his way.  Pope Benedict said to a young seminarian in Bressanone recently:  “I think that the most important thing is that we ourselves remain within the radius of the Holy Spirit’s breath in contact with him only if we are continually touched within by the Holy Spirit if he lives in us will it be possible for us to pass on him to others.”

What does it mean to make Jesus the cornerstone of our life?  It means that we are built on the strongest foundation.  God knows us.  God loves us.  God values the gifts that we are.  He leaves us free as to how we use them, but if we make him the centre of everything then his truth, his love will guide us along ways that we did not expect.

My prayer for the young people of Melbourne is that World Youth Day will not only be a single event, a moment that we regard like some of those great moments I mentioned at the beginning, but in fact the beginning of a new turning to Our Lord and a growing in the life that he brings.

Saint Paul said:  “For me to live is Christ and I count everything else as so much rubbish.  If we see Jesus as the Lord of our life, then we see him as the filter through which we see everything.”  Friendship, we think immediately of love one another as I have loved y

Hour of prayer for life



Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Together with other Christian leaders, I warmly welcome you to Saint Patrick’s Cathedral for this Hour of Prayer to God, the Author of all life, that we his creatures will respect the sacredness and unique value of each life from conception to natural death.

Our service is to acknowledge God as Author of life, to praise and thank him for his gifts and to beg him fervently that we creatures will enact laws which are based on truth and are one with the Creator’s plan.

Our Readings will speak of the loving personal care of God, his guidance from the womb of our Mother, the plan of God in Jesus Christ that redeemed us and the challenge given to us to follow the spirit of truth.  We pray especially for the members of Victorian Parliament as they confront proposed legislation imperilling life, endangering freedom of conscience and rejecting the dignity of each human life.

United with each other, let us stand as we praise God, the Author of all goodness, in the famous prayer of Saint Francis, All Creatures of our God and King.


“Man fully alive is the glory of God.”
(Saint Irenaeus)

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The Gospel we have just read speaks of the unity we have in the Holy Spirit, the accompanying grace of God and the mutual love of Jesus and the Father, which should accompany each of our actions.

Writing in the second century, Saint Irenaeus, the Bishop of Lyons, said: 

“The glory of God gives life; those who see God receive life.  For this reason God who cannot be grasped, comprehended or seen, allows himself to be seen, comprehended and grasped by men, that he may give life to those who see and receive him.  It is impossible to live without life and the actualisation of life comes from participation in God, while participation in God is to see God and enjoy his goodness.  People will therefore see God if they are to live.  To the vision of God they will become immortal and attain to God himself.”

We are here as brothers and sisters because we value the great gift of life.  Through prayer, witness and service we seek to go forth from this celebration of life, to testify to the unique value of each human without distinction from conception to natural death.  We serve our community by offering witness to the truth of life and undertake a commitment to serve those whose lives are endangered or weakened.

A particular challenge to that compassionate vision is legislation to be introduced into the Legislative Council on Tuesday.  Contrary to respect for life at all stages, it allows an abortion up to twenty-four weeks gestation performed by any doctor.  A pharmacist or nurse is permitted without the involvement of a doctor to administer an abortifacient drug to a female up to twenty-four weeks.

More than this it permits abortions from twenty-four weeks up to childbirth for a female if two doctors reasonably believe the abortion is appropriate having regard to the woman’s relevant medical and current and future physical, psychological and social circumstances.  It repeals the offence of child destruction and compels a pharmacist or nurse employed or engaged in public or private hospital or day procedure centre if directed in writing by a doctor to administer or supply an abortifacient drug to a female who is more than twenty-four weeks pregnant.  In addition to this, it imposes a legal obligation on doctors, nurses, pharmacists and psychologists, who have a conscientious objection

Dedication of the Altar at St Paul the Apostle, Endeavour Hills



Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In the short twenty-eight years of its existence the parish of Endeavour Hills has had a remarkable and expansive history.  After Father Frank Martin and Father Gerard McKernan, Father John Pearce became your parish priest in 1998 and the Passionists have continued the nourishing of parishioners with the Eucharist and with the Word of God.

In this Year of Saint Paul it is very fitting that we should celebrate the dedication of the altar in your parish church.  The altar represents Jesus Christ because just as Christ died on the cross and won our redemption, so through his passion the altar is the place where the fruits of redemption in the life-giving power of the Eucharist are brought to us.

As we begin this celebration filled with thanksgiving and focussed on the loving power of Christ, let us remember our baptism as we are sprinkled and the altar is sprinkled with blessed water.


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

All that takes place in this church tonight will remind us that we are members of the community of the faithful called to new and everlasting life.  A parish is not merely buildings; priests, religious, pastoral associates, lay people have made a tremendous contribution and the progressive work on the church and the large attendance are an eloquent testimony to the life of faith and hope sustained by so many of you.  I congratulate you and thank you for all that you have given.

With much joy we come, nourished by the Word of God, to dedicate this altar in Saint Paul’s church.  It will remain forever as a focus of the Year of Saint Paul and of the unitive power of Word and Sacrament to sanctify and nourish us as God’s people.  The desire to provide a permanent altar reminds us that Christ is permanently and in a stable way at the centre of all that we do.

I have mentioned earlier that Jesus is the true altar.  Noah and Abraham built altars in the Old Testament.  Moses killed a sacrificial lamb to show that the altar of the cross was the origin of our whole Christian religion and because Jesus went to die on a cross he made it holy by the fact that he was God, so that our sins engulfed and forgiven in his blood are remitted through the sacramental life of the Church.

The presence of the Passionist Fathers in this church, and here I pay tribute to Father John Pearce who is concluding his time as pastor, and Father Timothy O’Toole who will assume the reins in January, show us that the passion is central to our Christian life and that the cross far from being something which burdens and scars us is a means of accepting our own limitation and seeking forgiveness and new life through the power of Christ, carrying our crosses as he carried his. 

Having come from a parish run by a great Christological religious order I was delighted in 1998 to be able to secure the work of the Passionists here in Endeavour Hills.  I know that almost immediately you realised what a tremendous gift they are and have been to the life of the parish.  I pay tribute to them, I acknowledge the work that they are doing and I urge you to pray for them and support them in the special work that they do.

The altar that we are about to dedicate is the place of Christ’s sacrifice.  The blood of forgiveness and the water of baptism are ushered in to the Sacraments of the Church as Christ’s joyful forgiveness, life and peace are given to us.  We are given, gathered around this altar, as members of a family of the baptised to praise and thank Chri

Blessing of the Pregnancy Assistance Centre, Frankston



Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am genuinely pleased to be present and to bless this Pregnancy Assistance Centre here in Frankston. 

I rejoice at being in the presence of compassionate people who love life and wish to assist those who are confronted with the issues of an unwanted or unexpected pregnancy. 

The work done here will, I believe, bring great happiness and peace and I rejoice in being in such a supportive and compassionate environment.


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Although we know it, perhaps it needs to be said again, that God’s greatest gift is the gift of life.

One may be forgiven for suggesting that to live in the womb or to be in old age is the most endangered part of our existence.  I am delighted that the Pregnancy Assistance Centre is being established here in Frankston.  People at large in our Australian society are challenged by the fact that there are many unwanted or unexpected pregnancies.  It is absolutely vital that we realise that in every pregnancy comes a life which has to be nurtured and cared for.  The situation where pregnancy is unexpected or unwanted means that those who are challenged need to have somewhere to turn.

I know that all who come to this Centre will be treated above all with respect, as one who is loved by God, unconditionally and completely.  The similar love and support which is extended by the leaders of this Centre to encourage people to understand the options open to them is indeed a wonderful extension of the compassion of the Gospel.

It has often been said that there are too many abortions in Australia and this perception is reflected by the majority of the community.  However, in a precious Centre such as this we are not looking at statistics, but rather at this individual person who comes looking for help in a time of tremendous pressure and suffering.

I believe that we owe it to them to give them the best professional advice about the options for a living child, the greatest compassion for mothers who will walk their journey with them, and above all the insistence that the welcoming respect given here is always so that a time of tremendous trauma can be replaced by an atmosphere of care, of wonder at the mystery of life growing within the womb, and of relief for the tremendous anxiety which exists in these challenging circumstances.

Jesus himself said:  “As long as you did it to one of these, the least of my brethren, you did it to me.”  The workers of this Centre will be compassionate witnesses to the love of God for all, especially the weak and the suffering.  My prayer is that while I welcome this Centre with joy, that all who come here with find a ready and compassionate response, an honest and total upholding of the beauty and mystery of life, and a group of people who are ever ready to walk in faith and love with all who come here.

I congratulate you on this initiative and I thank God for the opportunity that you are providing in a suffering and very deeply challenged society.  May the hope that you offer, the comfort and strength that you recommend and the grace in which you operate always be that of the compassion of Christ who gave his all for the least as well as for the greatest.

+ Denis J. Hart,
Archbishop of Melbourne