Mass for Sunday 9 December 2012
MASS CELEBRATED BY ARCHBISHOP DENIS HART AT SAINT PATRICK’S CATHEDRAL, MELBOURNE, ON SUNDAY, 9TH DECEMBER 2012 AT 11.00 A.M.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The voice that cried in the wilderness, John the Baptist, was a selfless herald of an extraordinary happening. Like so many of us he is immersed in an event which is greater than himself as an individual. He describes his mission as to prepare the way for the Lord, to make the rough places smooth.
This year Pope Benedict has invited us to live a Year of Faith so as to rediscover enthusiasm for walking after Jesus, as John went before. If we believe in Jesus as the One sent by God himself then we will work to remove those things in our lives which hinder us from receiving Christ with joy.
Often we can be content in our own journey and, dare I say it, in our own ignorance. Yet we have to remember that in baptism we are washed clean by the blood of Jesus and we are to put on Christ and live in holiness of grace. The varying fortunes of the Israelites in the time leading up to the coming of Jesus; their waverings, turning off to false gods, always accompanied by a gentle, constant invitation to come back to the One alone who would save them. We are invited also to repent.
The recently canonised 14th century Christian mystic, Saint Julian of Norwich, described the coming of Christ in flesh and blood as his having put on our human tunic “aged with the sweat of his body, close-fitting and threadbare”. Because of Jesus’ actions, said Julian, we have received a merciful exchange; the cloak of Christ that envelops us with endless love. Not only are we privileged to be clothed with Christ, but we are his crown. We are blessed with the dignity and grace that we are to preserve and protect for ourselves and for others.
This is why the Holy Father has invited us to journey with him in faith, to know Jesus more fully, to allow him to touch our lives, to repent of our sins and receive forgiveness as the best preparation for Christmas. We can be immersed in the material world and in the many events which take place.
Pope Saint Gregory the Great says: “Let us be earnest in our repentance. Let us wash away with tears and with fruits worthy of repentance the evil we have committed. Let not that time be lost that is in mercy given to us.”
Our preparation, our straightening of paths, is so that we will all see God’s salvation shown in the person of Jesus.
+ Denis J. Hart,
ARCHBISHOP OF MELBOURNE.