Vigil Mass at St Mary’s Church, Castlemaine
Mass Celebrated by Archbishop Denis Hart
at St Mary's Church, Castlemaine,
on Saturday, 29th June, 2002, at 6.00pm
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I rejoice in being with you at St Mary's as a reminder that you are in the mind and prayers and esteem of the Archbishop.
Together with your parish priest, Father Des Magennis, I offer this Mass for you and for all your intentions.
As we call to mind our sins, let us ask the Lord to give us his own capacity to grow.
"Father, you call your children to walk in the light of Christ, free us from darkness and keep us in the radiance of your truth."
My dear Friends,
To walk in the light of Christ means that the person of Christ is our inspiration. It is summed up in another way in these words, "We wish to see Jesus." (John 12.21)
This request, which was made to the apostle, Philip, by some Greeks who had made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, speaks of the challenge which so many people echo as they come to us. We are known in our street or workplace as a follower of Jesus and we are invited not only to speak about him, but to show him to them.
I have always believed that one of the great advantages of Catholicism is that we know Jesus as a real person. Yet we also know Jesus is the eternal Son of God, made man. He came from God, took our flesh, lived, died and rose again. We have seen his glory, that of the only Son of the Father. In him God is indeed near.
I have always believed in Jesus as a person; as God to whom I can turn in moments of weakness, as a person who made a difference to my life and to that of every human being. Indeed, the word Jesus means God saves. In the Old Testament only once a year this name of God was spoken by the High Priest in atonement for the sins of Israel. The words, God saves, mean that in someone whom we can know and love and understand, God saves us from our weakness.
Whether we are young or old we have Jesus' example. As a baby in the manger. As a young man teaching the doctors. As an adult inspiring and leading the people and then as the suffering servant, going to the cross and gloriously risen.
As Archbishop I am immeasurably strengthened by the fact that at every Mass in this Archdiocese people pray for me that I may fulfil my role of making people holy, teaching them and gathering them into the family of the Church. The name Jesus to me illustrates a God who relates to me, who is close to me, who calls me to follow him. The name of Jesus is at the centre of all Christian prayer. In the Hail Mary, 'Blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.' In the Jesus prayer, 'Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me a sinner.' Many Christians, including Saint Joan of Arc, have died with the one word, Jesus, on their lips.
One very consoling fact is the type of people whom Jesus chooses. Today's Gospel shows how he selected a tax gatherer and said, 'Follow me.' People even criticised him for eating with sinners and yet that call was still there. This means that in the ordinariness of our life Jesus still calls to us. We can even say that if Jesus has made the tax collectors and the sinners his friends, then there is a link between our suffering and God's mercy. We really are meant to be the people of Jesus. We really are meant to follow him.
The last words of the Gospel, 'I did not come to call the virtuous, but sinners.' The words of the Greeks, 'we wish to see Jesus', show that it is ordinary people who can come to know Jesus and who can reflect his life.
Today I leave you with the challenge, 'Who is Jesus to you?' If Jesus is God saves, then God has a relationship with our life and wishes to intervene and call us to him. No matter what may be our condition and our burdens, and these are known only to him, Jesus is the answer to us and here in the Mass we have the offering of ourselves with Jesus, which is perfect. Jesus becomes truly present and through the power of his Cross he strengthens and feeds us for our journey. Truly then the Mass is the most important event of our life.
Like the Greeks we may say we wish to see Jesus, but unless we respond to his invitation, 'Follow me', and this is shown in our daily life, then we will have missed the point. This is why knowledge of Jesus is at the basis of all that we do in our worship of God, our teaching and our service of others in the Church.
'Jesus, the child born of the Virgin Mary, has his name for he will save his people from their sins.' (Matthew 1:21) And 'there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.' (Acts 4:12)
To love Christ truly is to love him more than any other, more even than one's own life. To follow Christ is to take up his cross. To welcome Christ is to welcome one whom he sends.
+ Denis J. Hart,
Archbishop of Melbourne.