Homilies – November 2014


READINGS: ACTS 20:17-18, 28-32, 36, 1 PETER 5:1-4, JOHN 21:15-17

The Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn rejoices this evening in the Ordination to the Priesthood of Reverend Dominic Byrne.  We particularly welcome his family, and in a special way his father and mother, Frank and Patricia Byrne.  To the wider family and to all friends and parishioners, welcome!

Our sentiments are perhaps expressed in the first reading when St Paul, in reference to the Church at Ephesus.  He says, “I commend you to God and to the message of His grace.”   (Acts 20:32)

This is a moment of grace.  This is a moment when the Lord encourages us and gives us hope by raising up one from our very own soil in the Archdiocese to be His priest. “A priest forever in the line of Melchizedek. “

Before we go on with the ceremony, we ought to consider the important moment that we share in this Mass.  The entire People of God have been made a royal priesthood in Jesus Christ, the High Priest and victim.  But, in a special way, Jesus also chose some to carry out publically in the church, a priestly ministry.  We are a sent out People.  Just as the Father sent the Son into the world, and the Son sent the Holy Spirit, the successors of the Apostles, the Bishops are sent out to the People of God.  The People of God are sent out to all the nations.  The priests are co-workers with the Bishops to continue the Lord’s work as teachers, priests and shepherds of the Lord.

To our dear Dominic, you are chosen by the Lord and in this Ordination Mass today you are appointed to act for the People of God, in relation to God, as a priest, in a spirit of total and complete service.

One of the principal Gospel images of this service is the image of Jesus, the Good Shepherd.  In the Gospel from John today, we hear the commandment of the Lord to, “Feed my sheep.”  Shepherds of the Lord are to seek out and rescue the lost.  They are to bind wounds.  They are to heal in the name of Jesus.  They are to preach in season, and out of season, the Living Word of God, to celebrate the Sacraments and nourish the People of God in service.

In a few moments I will present to Dominic the paten and the chalice and I will say the following to him, “Accept from the Holy People of God, the gifts to be offered to Him.  Know what you are doing and imitate the mystery you celebrate.  Model your life on the mystery of the Lord’s Cross.”

In fulfilling this mandate, dear Dominic, the church asks you to be, in the light of the second reading, “An example to the flock.”

You are to radiate the Joy of the Gospel to all whom you meet.  We pray the Lord’s blessing on you at this moment, that the Holy Spirit will give you all the gifts you need to be the priest that God wants you to be.

We’ve already co-discerned with you over the years that indeed the Lord is calling you to the Order of Priests.  From the time you left school in 1986, having completed Year 12 at St Edmund’s College, Canberra, you have felt, in subtle ways the calling to be a priest.  After leaving school you took on several part time jobs and eventually became a taxi driver here in Canberra for over 14 years.

Even in these years you continued to feel God calling you to something deeper than what you were already doing.  You left taxi driving and returned to studies.  You attended the University of Canberra, and in 2007 were awarded a degree in Applied Psychology.  The death of St John Paul II had a profound effect on you.  His life and the testimony inspiring leadership, enabled you to hear the subtle call of the Lord in a more profound way.  It was almost like a second calling for you.  Then after a long holiday, and listening carefully to your spiritual director, you were eventually accepted as a seminarian and you entered on your formal pathway to the priesthood.

In all this, we have co-discerned with you that indeed it is God calling you to the priesthood.  We thank the Lord for this grace of vocation.  We hope that there are many People here tonight who also might have the courage, like you, to listen to God calling from the depth of their heart to the priesthood or religious life.

Today you are ordained on the Memorial of the “Presentation of Blessed Virgin Mary.”  Since the sixth century, we have recalled the moment that Mary herself, the mother of God was dedicated to the Lord in service of all that God wanted in her life.  We pray that at this Mass, you too, make a similar gesture in your heart, in imitation of Mary, the mother of all priests.  We pray that your life and the priesthood that you will now receive will be dedicated for the rest of your life to Christ the High Priest.  May you see in the eternal care and intercession of Mary a pathway always to Jesus.  May God who has begun this good work in you, lead you on, into the joyful future of Calvary love, in service of God’s People.




READINGS: EZEKIEL 47:1-2, 8-9, 12, CORINTHIANS 3:9-11, 16-17, JOHN 2:13-22

Welcome all to this Holy Mass that celebrates the multi-cultural dimension of Australia and in particular, here in the Archdiocese.

We welcome the many migrant groups that have come far and wide to be with us at this Mass.  We pray for God’s blessings on Australia, in our ancient, but new land.

You all know that St Christopher’s Cathedral is not only serving the parish of Canberra, but also is the Mother Church of the entire Archdiocese.

Likewise, the Lateran Cathedral in Rome is not only the Cathedral church of the Diocese of Rome, but, indeed is the Mother Church of the entire Catholic community, universal.  For this reason it is a feast!  It celebrates the unity of the Catholic Church with and under the successor of St Peter, our Pope, Pope Francis.

In the second reading today, we are reminded that buildings can reflect the unity we have in Christ.  St Paul to the Church in Corinth states that “You are God’s building…..  You are God’s temple and that the spirit of God is living among you.”  God is building us up.  God is the cornerstone, foundation and architect of all that we do.  We must work together to celebrate the unity that we have in Christ.

This unity does not mean uniformity or sameness.  We know this already from St Paul who describes the Christian community as the Body of Christ, with its head and members.  There are many gifts given by the Holy Spirit, to serve, to build up the unity of Christ’s body.  We call these gifts charisms.  It is the Holy Spirit living amongst us, uniting us in Christ.

Look around you at the moment.  We are all so very different.  We come from different nations and cultural groups to make the one Australia.  We are not celebrating a uniformity here.  We’re not all the same.  But, we are celebrating the unity in all our diversity, through, with and in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour.

I think in Australia we’re still waking up to the enormous diversity that is in our new, but ancient land.  In comparison to other countries of the world, we are indeed united.  However, this unity should never be taken for granted.  The strength of our unity will be dependent on the way that we respond in loving kindness to those that live on the margins and peripheries of Australian life.  We think immediately of our dear Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.  Given all our challenges ahead, we still are somewhat of a showpiece in regard to the world.  I think one of the great gifts of Australia is that, by and large, different generations of migrants coming to this country have not brought their hostilities and intolerances of their home country to this land of the Holy Spirit.   There is an expectancy that we want to build an Australia that is full of peace and provides the best possible environment for our children and children’s children, to grow and flourish.  Everyone of us has a responsibility to make this unspoken ideal a reality.

In the first reading today, our attention is bought to the entrance of the Temple, where “A stream came out from under the Temple threshold and flowed eastwards, since the Temple faced east.”  This water flowing under the Temple makes us think of our own Baptism.  It makes us think of the responsibility that Baptism gives us in making sure that the Temple of the Lord is not simply a monument nor a museum piece.  We must ensure that it is a living Temple of God.  Marriage and family life must be at the very centre of it all.  And the waters that flow from under the Temple and go throughout the different lands are an image of our missionary tasks.  We are to be the living water of God going out into the dry deserts of Australia.  The driest desert is the one within the human heart.  It is the heart that is lonely and has not opened him or herself to the living water of Jesus Christ.  We have an enormous responsibility in our multi-cultural Australia to ensure that the offer of friendship with Jesus is given to everybody.  We must do this with great prudence.  We are not proselytisers.  But we will forever radiate the presence of God to all we meet, as Pope Francis strongly suggests that we do.

In all our efforts for the future, we once again turn to the Patroness of Australia, Our Lady Help of Christians.  We also turn in this month, of November, to those who have died and have left a legacy of hope and joy that we can build on in the generations ahead.

So let us now proceed with our Mass under the intercession of Mary, as she leads us to Jesus, the bread of life, in all hope and joy.



READINGS: ISAIAH 25:6-9, ROMANS 5:5-11, MATTHEW 11:25-30

I’m delighted to be with all of you in the parish of Narooma for the first time.  Last night I had a very enjoyable gathering with the community at Cobargo, earlier this morning, I was with the community at Bermagui.

Today we meet on All Souls Day.  It is the day, in a particular way we pray for the faithful departed.  We pray that they might rest in peace.

Following on from yesterday’s Solemnity of All Saints, today we pray for the souls in purgatory, particularly for those who have nobody to pray for them in their death.

During this Mass you might want to pray especially for your loved ones and the deceased members of this Catholic community and, as I’ve just mentioned for those who are forgotten in their death.

This commemoration during our Mass today helps us to reflect on our ultimate life’s journey, which is to be one with Christ in Heaven.

It also encourages us to focus on the very important responsibility we have as Catholic Christians, and that is to pray in intercession for the dead.

Sometimes in funeral Masses in Australia in these days, we often lose sight of this primary obligation.  Sometimes the Mass becomes a “celebration of the life of ………..”  Sometimes we almost forget to pray for the repose of the souls of those who have died.

Our Catholic tradition has always offered us the prudent advice, that when somebody dies we ought gather and pray for the repose of their soul.  We should pray that God’s merciful love comes upon them in their death as God’s love has been with them in their life.  We pray that God will forgive them any sins they have committed.  Secondly, we pray for the bereaved loved ones, the family and friends who gather at the funeral.  Thirdly, we then offer some reflection upon the gifts and blessings that the deceased person has offered us.  It’s only here, and in third place that we can talk about celebrating the life of the deceased person.

Sometimes I’ve heard of priests very frustrated in preparing funerals.  There seems to be a societal expectation today that we should only celebrate a person’s life in their death.  It becomes almost like a canonisation ceremony!  Sometimes the priest tell me there is little time left to be able to seriously pray for the repose of the soul of the deceased.

But, especially on this day, let us all pray that those who have died, might rest in peace.  This expression, ”rest in peace”, is found on tombstones and obituary notices.  It is a beautiful expression.  Those who have died must be assured of our prayers that they indeed rest in peace.   There is restlessness in the human heart, even at death, until all our lives are placed in the loving and merciful and hopeful care of our Lord Jesus Christ.  There we find true peace.

In gathering with you here in Narooma, I thank you and encourage you for all that you’ve done to make the Lord Jesus known and loved here, in this peaceful seaside community.  I pray particularly for all those who have died from this parish, who we remember particularly in this Mass.

At the same time, I pray for all the deceased in the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn.  I’m thinking particularly of the Bishops, Priests and Religious who have given their lives over to the service of the Diocese.  May they rest in peace.

I look forward to coming again soon, and spending more time with you and encouraging you in the faith.  In the meantime, let us place all our cares in the intercession of Our Lady, Stella Maris, the patroness of this parish.  She always leads us to Jesus.  She is first amongst the faithful.

As we focus on the faithful departed, we also recall that one day we will join them before the merciful judgement seat of God.  Therefore, as St Mary of the Cross MacKillop mentioned “We are but travellers here.” Let us live our present life with our future destiny in Christ, uppermost in our minds and hearts.

Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.  May they rest in peace.  Amen.