MASS CELEBRATED BY ARCHBISHOP DENIS HART AT SAINT PATRICK’S CATHEDRAL, MELBOURNE, ON SUNDAY 25 OCTOBER 2009 AT 11AM.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today’s Gospel of the cure by Jesus of Bartimaeus is a reminder that every one of us in life’s journey is challenged to see more clearly the place of God in our lives, and the mission he has for us and for our society.
Today we will offer this Mass in reparation for the crime of abortion and I invite you to join me at 12.30 for a service of prayer in reparation for abortion on the first anniversary of the Royal assent being given to the abortion liberation legislation.
Today too Jossy Kizhakkethalackal, a seminarian for Melbourne, will be accepted as a candidate for Diaconate and Priesthood. We remember him and all the other special intentions that we have as we call to mind our sins and celebrate this Mass.
Cardinal Basil Hume was the Archbishop of Westminster until he died in 1999. He was very fond of travelling to Lourdes and at the zigzag path to the Grotto the first thing you come across is a statue of the blind man, Bartimaeus. Although he looks over the Grotto, he sees nothing, he is blind. The statue had been placed there by an Italian lady who had come to Lourdes to be cured of her blindness. Although she could not see again she recovered her faith and this was transforming in her. She realised that her new spiritual power was more powerful than any human sight.
Cardinal Hume also used enjoy going to the cricket with a man who had been born blind, but he was a passionate cricket fan. As he explained the moves and what was happening, Cardinal Hume overcame the regret he had for his friend and because of Hume’s words the man was able to enjoy his favourite pastime.
The prayer: “Lord, that I may see”, enables us to see our failures and our inconstancy, which takes on a new light when we walk more closely with Jesus. It is like beginning a friendship when we find out about a person and then going on ever deeper to a unity of mind and heart.
As one commentator said: “The experience of that statue taught Cardinal Hume that we do not see God with our physical eyes. We do not see him present in the Eucharist, nor did we see him rise from the dead. We do not touch God with our hands or hear him with our ears. In that sense we are all blind, saying ‘I want to see’ through faith.”
Cardinal Hume also wrote: “Now I believe that there is a space within each one of us which only God can fill.” That was said by Archbishop Michael Ramsay of Canterbury. It is an important point, indeed a vital one, for a life without God is a stunted life. There is something missing. There is a void.
So today as we come to Mass we remember that holiness involves friendship with God, the movement towards the realisation of God’s love for us is similar to our relationship with other people. There comes a moment which we can never quite locate or catch when an acquaintance becomes a friend. In a sense the change from one to the other has been taking place over a period of time, but there comes a point when we know we can trust the other, exchange confidences, keep each other’s secrets: we are friends. There has to be a moment like that in our relationship with God. He ceases just to be a Sunday acquaintance and becomes a weekday friend. That is the challenge given to us as we seek to live the Gospel this week.
+ Denis J. Hart,ARCHBISHOP OF MELBOURNE