Homily for migrant chaplains on 7 December
MASS CELEBRATED BY ARCHBISHOP DENIS HART FOR THE MIGRANT CHAPLAINS OF THE ARCHDIOCESE AT THE CROATIAN CHURCH, CLIFTON HILL, ON TUESDAY, 7 DECEMBER 2010 AT 10AM
My dear Brothers in the Priesthood,
On this second Tuesday of Advent, filled with love in the fullness of peace that only the Lord can bring, I am delighted to celebrate this Mass with you in thanksgiving for all that you and your communities contribute as an integral part of the Archdiocese of Melbourne.
Your daily and constant work is that our people may be filled with the knowledge of the Lord and eyes enlightened to see the way of Jesus Christ.
That we may lead them in this task, let us call to mind our sins that we may be transformed.
My dear Brothers,
In the Gospel we have just read we hear of the call to save even the one that is lost. In our estimable service of God in his Church we remember the value of simplicity. As priests and other Christs we practise the union that Jesus demonstrated with his Father and we see him as the peak of all history.
Once the author, Arnold Bennett, said: “The only way to write a great book is to write it with the eyes of the child who sees things for the first time.” It is possible to be so learned or accustomed to the faith that in the end we cannot see the wood for the trees. We must always remember that Christianity does not mean knowing about Christ, it means knowing Christ. As William Barclay says, “to do that requires not earthly wisdom but heavenly grace.”
Our effectiveness as priests depends on this simple capacity.
Jesus shows us in very practical terms the relationship between God and man when Saint John says: “The word became flesh” (John 1:14), or when Jesus says: “The Father and I are One”, or “He who has seen me has seen the Father”. (John 10:30; 14:9) The Greeks were busy saying how difficult it was to know God. When Jesus came he said, “If you want to know what God is like, look at me.” Jesus did not so much tell people about God as to show them God because in himself were God’s mind and heart. He was the peak of all that happened because in Jesus man meets God and we are led to our destiny.
Throughout the years the challenges become greater. As priests we have an intimate knowledge of our people and we know that the knowledge that Jesus has of the Father can only be shared by people of faith. He goes to fight his final battle in Jerusalem when all seems frustrated. However, what he seeks to do is to form a new people. Recognising Jesus as God the Son are people who through the work of Jesus come to know God as Father. A people who see and hear what prophets and kings have longed to see and hear, but did not.
Fathers, I thank you for all that you do and for your deep faith. Let us together seek Jesus Christ our Lord and follow him in the unfolding of our ministry, always in union with the Church and with our Bishop.
And so we pray: “We thank you God our hope, through Jesus Christ your beloved Son, who came to gather those who had gone off aimlessly. You are blessed, God, you satisfy our longings, you make life rise up stronger than death and more gentle than tears. At this festive table where the banquet of your kingdom is already celebrated with all those who place their hope in you, God, Father of the poor, we bless and praise you.”
+ Denis J. Hart,
Archbishop of Melbourne.