33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
MASS CELEBRATED BY ARCHBISHOP DENIS HART AT SAINT PATRICK’S CATHEDRAL, MELBOURNE, ON SUNDAY 16 NOVEMBER 2008 AT 11AM.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today as the Church Year comes to an end we are reminded that each of us is called to use our gifts in order to achieve the Master’s happiness to which we can be called.
Imagination, initiative, dedication, responding to the challenge of Christian life, is never more poignant than it is at the present time in the modern world.
As we are united with those who will come to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation, let us ask the Lord that he will give us light and strength to continue our journey and to do so with faith and love.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In 1973 an oncologist wrote in a New Zealand newspaper of her experience with cancer patients. “Cancer makes people start thinking about the quality of their lives … in fact, some people never become completely human beings and really start living until they get cancer; we all know we are going to die, but cancer makes people face up to it. Cancer patients live with a lot of extra enjoyment because they have faced their fear of death. Cancer patients aren’t dying, they are living.”
The Readings today remind us that we all live under the sure spectre of death. The busy wife, the respect and fear of the Lord, the uncertainty of times and seasons, the use of talents – all of these things remind us that our time is limited and yet precious. I would not want you to be living today out of fear of what might be. Rather, I would want each of us to treasure the life and the gifts that God gives us as something precious, which he invites us to share, arising from the wonder of God’s love and care for us.
Indeed, William Barclay said of this Gospel that, “There can be no religion without adventure” and that “God can find no use for the closed mind”. However, we do remember that our gifts are different. God does not demand from us abilities which we do not have, but he does ask each of us that we use to the full, confidently filled with God’s love, the gifts that he has given us. Whatever talent we have, be it little or great, we must lay it at the service of God. The person who is punished is the one who will not try; the person who did not lose his talent, but did nothing with it.
That is a reminder that we must see in our lives the possibilities that God sees. We must dare to trust ourselves to him and in our daily life and in the valuing of what we can be and do, nourished by prayer, by the word of God and a constant relationship with him, then we can enrich and build up our world.
Today some of our adult candidates will come forward to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation. Whether for them or for us who have been confirmed many years ago, they are the gift of the Holy Spirit to make us more like Christ and more perfect as members of the Church. They give us power in the Church to witness that Christ is the centre of the life of each of us.
It is not merely a stage in life, not merely a moment that we pass through, but a real invitation that God is entering into us and will remain with us at every moment of our life. He gives us wisdom, understanding, right judgement, knowledge, courage, reverence and wonder and awe.
Christ gives varied gifts to the members of the Church and I do invite you to share them with others, remembering above all that it is one relationship which is vital in our life, that which we have with our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
As the candidates renew their Profession of Faith, let us too remember the day of our Baptism and renew not merely our belief in Jesus Christ, but our commitment through lives well lived, through use of the gifts we have, to witness to him.
+ Denis J. Hart,
Archbishop of Melbourne