MASS CELEBRATED BY ARCHBISHOP DENIS HART AT SAINT PATRICK’S CATHEDRAL, MELBOURNE, ON SUNDAY 26 OCTOBER 2008 AT 11AM.
INTRODUCTION Dear Brothers and Sisters, We have the two great Commandments put before us. Love of God with all our heart and all our mind and all our soul, and love of our neighbour as ourselves. We welcome our seminarians, especially those to be admitted as candidates for diaconate and priesthood; Nicholas Pearce and Richard Rosse (Melbourne), Gregory Bellamy (Bathurst) and Robert Galea (Sandhurst). As we call to mind our sins and begin this liturgy in which we reflect on our duty to God above all and how this is reflected in our duty to neighbour, let us ask the Lord to give us clarity of vision and deep faith to live in the midst of this world with faith in God who is the author of all. HOMILY Dear Brothers and Sisters, The Gospel we have just read gives us the balance between love of God and love of neighbour. The absolute primacy of our love and service of God is the prism through which we see those made in his image and likeness. It is most important for us to realise, particularly in a modern world where there is so much concentration on individual life, that to love God is the first commandment. The words, “May we do with loving hearts what you ask of us”, are a reminder that God’s expectations of us are the only ones which will bring us to everlasting life. I have a great admiration of people of great faith who are totally devoted to God. In the post modern world there are many young people who are attracted to God. The culture in which we live is very much an events culture where everything has to be a big production. Yet our love and service of God is something, which is life-long, which engages our mind, heart and will, which leads us to see a single thread leading through our lives. Personally, from the time I was a small boy and an altar server, seeing Sunday as the day of the Lord is part of my being. When I have been travelling I have made sure to say Mass on Saturday night. There may have been one Sunday as a teenager when I had a bad attack of the flu in Year 11 that I may not have been well enough to go to Sunday Mass. A relationship with God is the great constant in our lives because we are made in his image and likeness. That relationship through Mass, through prayer and Sacraments helps us to see the beauty of God and to reach out from human fallibility to acknowledge the one who gives every gift, who is the author of life. In the Old Testament this meant fidelity to the covenant to be expressed in love of God for all God’s people and for God’s gift of the universe. God is seen as the origin of love and yet Emil Brunner once said that love is justice passed around. No one may be overlooked in the passing around of the love which is the justice and truth of God. Today’s reading stresses that justice remembers God as our strength and challenges us to live according to the Gospel of Christ. In Our Lord’s own words: “All who love me will keep my words and my Father will love them and he will come to them.” (John 14:23) A relationship with God means that we are faithful in prayer, we wonder at God’s limitless love and that we reflect this limitless love and compassion in the way we see our brothers and sisters and the way we deal with them. To love our neighbour as ourself in fact means to give to our neighbour the comforts, the understanding, the allowances in time of confusion and fault and the encouragement that we would want given to ourselves. We are made in God’s image and likeness, so is our neighbour. We must extend to every human being with a conscience the recognition of one who is made like God, loved by God infinitely and uniquely and who shares that love of God that we have with all heart and soul, with all strength and mind. Let us remember this context as Origen says, “God is loved with our whole soul, when no part of the soul is seized by anything that is out of keeping with the faith and with our whole mind thinking and speaking of nothing else but the things of God. In this way we love God and draw others into relationship with him.” + Denis J. Hart, Archbishop of Melbourne