Vigil Mass at St Mary’s Church, East Malvern
MASS CELEBRATED BY ARCHBISHOP DENIS HART AT ST MARY’S CHURCH, EAST MALVERN, ON SATURDAY 6 SEPTEMBER 2008 AT 6.30PM.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I am very pleased to be with Father Edebohls and to celebrate this Mass with you as we come once again to the Lord’s Day.
The Readings speak of the responsibility which we and the community have to encourage others in the journey of faith and to remind them that the only standard before us is that set by Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, who lived, died and rose for us.
As we call to mind our sins, let us remember those who struggle to live the Christian life that supported by our prayers, example, words and deeds they and we may grow in the love and following of Jesus our Saviour.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
This morning in the Cathedral I ordained four young men to the priesthood. It was a wonderful celebration surrounded by the joy of brother priests and families at God’s great providence in enriching the Archdiocese with four more priests. It was a moment too in which I reminded the young priests that through the imposition of hands, that mysterious interchange between God and man, they are transformed to be other Christs, to be given as victims, to make people holy, teach them and guide them on life’s journey.
Particularly in a modern society the responsibilities of the priesthood are huge. We live in a culture which is totally secular and seeks to drive faith and religion to the area of private conscience, as Pope Benedict said in Sydney recently. However, the truth of Christ will never be driven from the centre of Christian and public life. The Church has the responsibility to teach us and to reach out to others that the way to eternal life may be embraced by all those for whom Jesus Christ died.
Today’s Readings speak of the responsibility that each of us has to live in uprightness of life ourselves, but also to give witness, encouragement and reminders to others. Modern Christians may hesitate and say that what others do is none of our business. Yet in the first Reading and in the Gospel, Ezekiel and the disciples are reminded of their common responsibility to call the one wrongdoer back to truth and life.
Today’s Ordinations remind us that it is not only the priests who offer sacrifice, but every one of us are also members of a prophetic people, invited to live and proclaim God’s truth and his love, which is lifegiving. The last sentence of the first Reading says: “If you do want a wicked man to renounce his ways and repent and he does not repent, then he shall die for his sin, but you yourself will have saved your life.” (Ezekiel 33:9)
Similarly, Our Lord is giving instructions to the disciples reminding them that we do have a responsibility to show example, to point out the right way to each other and in so doing to know that God is with us. We are invited to be instruments of reconciliation with God, as the Alleluia Verse tells us. Sometimes when we do do these things we may not be thanked, but we can know that we are fulfilling our Christian duty.
An erring member of the Church approached in a personal courteous way is sometimes happy to come back. God’s Word today gives us a practical message of the responsibility that we have and of the fact that we do not need to be afraid to live and keep pointing out God’s truth.
On this day when we thank God for the gift of priesthood in the Church the Readings remind us in timely fashion that we are all called to listen openly to God’s voice, in freedom to follow his way and to encourage others so to do.
In this parish of Saint Mary’s I know that the example that you give is strong and Christlike. Thanks to each of you for what you do and to Father Edebohls for his remarkable example and work. May the Lord be in your hearts now and always.
+ Denis J. Hart,
Archbishop of Melbourne