Mass for Sunday 23 September 2012


Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today’s Mass picks up the rivalry and squabbles which can be so much part of human life; the opposition of secularists in our society; those who do not bother about God because he might ask of them a certain way of life.  The first Reading from Wisdom picks out the way in which some people can be reproached by those who are good, just, fair and honest.  Their jealousy can even reach into attacking them and causing them bodily harm.  What we see reported on our city streets and in some of our suburbs is very much just this, perhaps fuelled by alcohol or drugs.  Nevertheless, it is because of the jealousy that some have of us that they resort to wanton violence.
Yet we with a spiritual vision know that if we are sincere in our lives and our actions God will care for us.  Saint James of course gives another contrast.  Where there is jealousy and ambition there is disharmony, but the wisdom from above is full of compassion, does good and works for peace.
For me the challenge has always been whether we are going to live simply by feelings, simply by the way in which we are humanly inclined in things, or whether as intelligent people we have to strive personally to overcome our lower nature and our tendency to laziness and to doing what is wrong, and setting ourselves goals that will really make a difference; compassion, good deeds, working for peace.
That really is the difference that we have as intelligent beings.  We do not automatically act according to our feelings.  We have the capacity to reflect and review what we are doing.  If our life is taking a downward spiral, if we are getting involved with friends who lead us to evil, then we can say to ourselves, aided by prayer and determination, that it is time to stop.
Moving forward to the Gospel; if we leave aside those things which are pushing ourselves up, but follow sincerely and honestly God’s plan and his commandments, then we will come to see that true greatness is not esteem in the eyes of men; it is where we stand before God.
Our Lord says if anyone wants to be first, let him make himself the servant of all.  He invites the apostles to welcome children in his name.  This leads us to the ultimate discussion.  What is real success?  Is it power – being stronger by violence?  Is it material success?  Is it intellectual pride?  Or the lasting values of bringing justice, compassion, truth, honesty to bear in the way we use our talents to serve others, to build up the community in our world.  In a very real sense true success is when our gifts are able to be used to help and build up others.  True virtue is to be distinguished for compassion and service.  True justice lies in truthfulness and honesty.
The Opening Prayer reminded us that keeping God’s precepts will help us to attain eternal life.  Whether the Ten Commandments or Our Lord’s great Commandment:  “Love one another as I have loved you”, the answer is the same.  True success, true greatness comes from recognising our gifts, using them well for others, living according to the gospel.
It can really be said that the Christian is a visionary when we seek genuinely to have before us the needs of those with whom we live and work.
+ Denis J. Hart,
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