Fifth Sunday of Easter

Mass Celebrated by Archbishop Denis Hart
at St Patrick's Cathedral, Melbourne,
on Sunday, 28th April, 2002, at 11.00am


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Often when we are overcome by the conflicts and difficulties of daily life we look for a place of peace and rest; it is almost an escape. And yet Jesus reminds us that he is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He does not seek to have us escape from our present life, but to entrust that life to him.

As we celebrate this Mass let us ask that we will value our life and what we put into it as precious, as the way to the Father, in which Jesus guides and helps us.

Let us call to mind our sins.


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Frequently in the Gospels Jesus challenged his followers, now and then, to look beyond the immediate needs of food, shelter, clothing, career, enjoyment, friendship. Four things emerge at the beginning of this Gospel.
  1. Jesus challenges us to greatness by an awareness of who we are and what we can do.
  2. He tells us he is going to prepare us a place.
  3. He will triumph ultimately when he comes again.
  4. He promises us to be with him in the place and the life the Father has given.
As the means of achieving these things Jesus himself says, "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life." This is a powerful reminder that entrusting ourselves to Jesus is the basis of true happiness and development of our talents here on earth. As we have celebrated the resurrection it is important for us to remember this.

The Gospels present Jesus to us as one who travelled through towns and villages, accompanied by twelve apostles whom he had chosen, by a group of women who assist them, by crowds that seek him out and follow him, by the sick who cry out for his healing power, by people who listen to him with varying degrees of acceptance of his words.

Today, you and I can say, "We wish to see Jesus." We can marvel at the invitation to faith which Jesus gives to Thomas.

The second Reading reminds us that membership in the family of God is a gift and we should avoid the temptation to convert that gift into a possession. Our standing before God comes because of his wonderful gift and we have to make him the cornerstone of our faith and our life lived in the world of today.

When Jesus invites us to know him as the Way, the Truth and the Life, he invites each of us to entrust our very different lives to him. Cardinal Newman says that the hope we have in Christ, "sees what is harmful; it reads the signs of the times as they are and doesn't look naively on the struggle between good and evil in society and in our human heart. Hope trusts in the assistance of a higher divine power that guides the course of history according to providential designs."

More personally, "to hope is not only to believe in God, but to believe and be certain that he loves us and means well to us; and therefore it is a great Christian grace." When he says, "without hope religion cannot exist" (J H Newman, Sermons Volume 1) he reminds us that our hope is the patient, subdued, tranquil, cheerful, thoughtful, waiting for Christ, but our waiting isn't a merely worldly one. The Christian is watchful with his eyes always fixed on Christ, the Way. He does remind us as we seek to find our way that God is not merely all-powerful, he is also infinitely merciful and loving.

When at seventy-eight years of age Newman was made a Cardinal, he said, "I have always tried to leave my cause in the hands of God and to be patient - and he has not forgotten me." (Letters and Diaries, Volume 29, Page 72)

If we make Christ our Way, it is important that we keep in mind that a new millennium is opening before the Church like a vast ocean upon which we venture relying on the help of Christ. The Son of God who shared our flesh two thousand years ago out of love for us is at work even today.

We need -
(a) discerning eyes to see this, (b) a generous heart to become the instruments of his work and (c) we can count on the power of the Spirit who came at Pentecost and encourages us to start anew, making Christ our Way, the Light in our darkness, the Hope that we all find when we say yet again, 'He is risen indeed. Alleluia!'


+ Denis J. Hart,
Archbishop of Melbourne.
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