Homily given by Archbishop Denis Hart at the Mass for the Australian bishops in Saint Mary of the Cross chapel, North Sydney, on Tuesday, 24th November 2015
My dear Brother Bishops and Friends,
The vision of the prophet Daniel reminds us of the enduring grace and power of the kingdom into which we have been introduced by Baptism. A kingdom of truth and life, of holiness and grace, of justice, love and peace, made by the God who understands us and asks us to look with clear vision on the needs of the Church and its people as we gather for this meeting.
We are accompanied always by the grace and light of the Holy Spirit as we see Jesus, the face of the Father’s mercy, with whom we are united in the Eucharist.
With the beginning of the Year of Mercy on 8th December we enter a new epoch in the life of the Church fifty years after the Second Vatican Council. We know that when we act on our own, our efforts can often be futile or distracted. In our work and contemplation during this week we are called to gaze even more attentively on the mercy of God, that we may become a more effective sign of the Father’s action in our lives.
Pope Francis provides us with a vision of how the witness of believers might grow strong and more effective, how the Church’s first truth is the love of Christ, announcing the mercy of God, the beating heart of the Gospel, which must penetrate the heart and mind of every person.
In the Bull of Indiction for the Jubilee Pope Francis makes the telling assertion that we priests have received the gift of the Holy Spirit for the forgiveness of sins and we are responsible for this. We are the faithful servants of God’s mercy through the Sacrament of Penance and through our exercise of the discipline of Penance; mercy, compassion and reconciliation, we seek to be inspired by the never-ending mercy of God for each of us, despite our human frailty and failure.
Today is a moment of hope as, fifty years after the Constitution ‘Gaudium et Spes’, we carry the joys and hopes and fears and wonders of our people in the compassionate study and work of the needs of the Church during this meeting.
May Mary, the Mother of the new evangelisation and the Star of the Sea, the spouse of the Holy Spirit draw us to Jesus, her Son, in whom we see God’s mercy and hope now and always.
+ Denis J. Hart,
ARCHBISHOP OF MELBOURNE.