HOMILY GIVEN BY ARCHBISHOP DENIS HART AT THE HOLY HOUR FOR YOUTH AT SAINT PATRICK’S CATHEDRAL, MELBOURNE, ON THURSDAY 15 OCTOBER 2009 AT 6.30PM.
(Gospel Reading: Luke 1:39-56)
My dear young friends,
The Gospel we have just read shows Mary proclaiming the greatness of the Lord. Each of us is called to be a follower of Jesus and for each of us Christian life is a journey following Jesus Christ. Pope Benedict spoke on 15th August of Mary being taken up to heaven; the final phase of her journey of total faithfulness.
Together this evening in the presence of our living Lord we ponder what faithfulness means and how we are invited to be followers of Jesus. If we trace the journey of Our Lady from her Immaculate Conception, free from sin, to the Annunciation that she is to be the Mother of the Lord, her own motherhood and Assumption are interconnected and the Church shows that her destiny is linked with our history.
We too are given the great gift of birth. God shows each of us that we have a special role to perform in life and as young people pondering in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament we are invited to discover that role and to fulfil it generously. If we ‘pray earnestly, live justly and love tenderly’, as the prophet says, then we will come to a realisation of what is God’s unique call for each of us. Whether we have a call to priesthood, to consecrated life, to dedicated professional life, to marriage or to single life, that search for God’s plan for each of us is the only thing which will make us happy.
If we go to the story of Mary, the plan of Our Lady’s conception is the first page pointing out that in God’s plan we were to have her purity and beauty. Even though sin jeopardised, but did not destroy this plan, Mary gave birth to Jesus and gave us the Son of God so that our humanity could be restored to the free acceptance in faith. Finally, when Mary was taken up to heaven we remember what we are called to be in following Jesus.
As we go through Mary’s life as a young girl and we see her perplexity at the Annunciation, her call to give birth, her nurturing of Jesus, her following of his Messianic journey, even the perplexity of her when he was lost in the temple, and then her final following through to Calvary, we have the image of a total faith in God and of an ability which she has to show us the path that God has planned for each of us.
In the Gospel we have just read, Saint Luke tells that after the angel’s announcement Mary “arose and went with haste into the hill country to visit Elizabeth”. (Luke 1:39) With these words Saint Luke wishes to emphasise that for Mary to follow her own calling in openness to God’s spirit who has brought within her the Incarnation of the Word means taking a new road and immediately setting out from home. She allowed herself to be led on a journey by God alone. This is a very important point for us. We will only find our true capacity and our true happiness if we allow ourselves to be led by God alone.
Saint Ambrose commenting on Our Lady’s going with haste says: “The grace of the Holy Spirit admits of no delay.” Our Lady’s life is guided by God. She says: “Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord. Let it be done to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38) It is modelled by the Holy Spirit, is marked by the event and encounters such as that with Elizabeth and above all by her special relationship with her Son, Jesus.
That is why our time at Mass and our time of Adoration are so important because they provide a direct contact with the Lord in which we can see things in the way he does and we can then follow him in the journey.
Pope Benedict said on 15th August that: “It is a journey on which Mary cherishing and pondering in her heart the events of her own life sees in them even more profoundly the mysterious designs of God the Father to save the world.”
Then by following J