MASS CELEBRATED BY ARCHBISHOP DENIS HART AT SAINT PATRICK’S CATHEDRAL, MELBOURNE, ON SUNDAY, 11 DECEMBER 2011 AT 11Am (Third Sunday of Advent)
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Welcome to Saint Patrick’s Cathedral on this third Sunday of Advent when we recall that God’s coming is a source of our joy. We live in continual joy and hope because God is near and no one and nothing can take him away from us.
The Mass today invites us to turn our lives into a pointer to our Saviour so that by what we are and do we will show the way to him.
Each of the Readings today encourages in us the theme of joy. John comes as a witness to speak for the light. Saint Paul reminds the Thessalonians to thank God constantly. Isaiah acknowledges that the Spirit of the Lord has been given to bring good news to the poor. Each of these texts calls forth our joy. Unlike happiness, which is a temporary response to something that happens in life, joy is a keen awareness of the presence of God.
Roland Faley said: “Joy is more than merrymaking, a fleeting laugh or a bit of euphoria. True joy retains composure, a peaceful smile in fortune or misfortune. It looks at mountains and oceans and sees God’s imprint. It looks at teeming metropolises and sees an immense amount of good. Joy looks at Christ and knows he is there.” (Roland Faley, Footprints on the Mountain, Paulist Press 1994)
When Moses stood before the burning bush and was challenged to liberate his people, when Mary was challenged to accept an infant by the power of the Holy Spirit - despite their insecurity they went towards the joy that grows deeper and stronger each time it is tested. Like Moses and Mary, when confronted with a challenge we go at first uncertainly and then we come to full joy.
Saint John the Baptist bore witness to the coming of Jesus, who as the living light dispelled the darkness of the human condition in order to enable humanity to find its power in God. Even at times when we do not feel joyful or excited, celebrating the great, joyful event of the coming of God reminds us that we do live in the hope of a reality which will be revealed without condition and without end.
By the virtue of hope we are able to see and move beyond our present difficulties because the Jesus who came humbly in our fleshly form will come in the future in glory and power. We press to that future and hope and rejoice and deal courageously with the present because we know that the future for us does not consist just in more of the same, but is an eternal communion with God. “One whom we have heard, whom we have seen with our own eyes, and whom we have touched with our hands – Jesus the Word of life.” (1 John 1:1)
It is possible for us then, even in moments of great suffering, to experience the joy of God’s coming because there is a hope that all will be revealed, that our world will be transformed and that our prayers and deeds will be effective for eternal life.
The Communion Verse today reminds the anxious to be strong and fear not, our God will come and save us. This is the certainty promised in our life and times.
+ Denis J. Hart,ARCHBISHOP OF MELBOURNE.