Homily – February 2020


Readings  Mal 3:1 – 4  Heb 2:14-18  Gospel Luke 2:22-40

It is unusual for us to celebrate this Feast on a Sunday but its importance takes precedence over the normal Readings of today.

It is a beautiful and important Feast of our faith. There is a look back and yet a look forward. This is appropriate as we now truly begin the year 2020 with the return to school and people now finishing their holidays, albeit very much disrupted by the bushfire situation in our part of the world.

With the Feast that celebrates forty days since Christmas, we see very much the Jewish upbringing of Jesus. There has always been special prayers prayed by Jewish leaders for infants and that is exactly what is happening here. Joseph and Mary bring their newborn baby to offer and consecrate the Lord to God.

In this looking back with thanksgiving to God, there is also a looking forward. Two important figures are introduced in today’s Gospel from Luke. Simeon is described as, “an upright and devout man; he looked forward to Israel’s comforting and the Holy Spirit rested on him.” When Jesus is presented to him, he immediately becomes aware that he is holding the awaited Messiah; such was his docility to the Spirit. He immediately declares Jesus as, “a light to enlighten the pagans and the glory of your people Israel.” This scene is foretold in the First Reading of today from the prophet Malachi who prophesises that, “The Lord you are seeking will suddenly enter his temple.”

The prayer that Simeon prays is the, “Nunc dimittis.” It is a beautiful prayer prayed daily in our Church.

The other personality the Holy Family meet is Anna. She is also a prophet and as an elderly person serves “God night and day with fasting and prayer.” She also acknowledges that the child in front of her is the light of the nations.

It seems as if the faith drought breaks with the presentation of Lord in the temple. All the waiting and hope for salvation from God has now become present in the birth of the child Jesus. A new beginning has dawned.

The final words of this Gospel seems to be full of pathos. The Holy Family “went back to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth.” We see how fragile the early family is in the humility and meekness of Joseph and Mary. Not only that, Simeon has prophesied to Mary that, “a sword will pierce your own soul.” At the same time he prophesised that Jesus is “destined to be a sign that is rejected.”

One would think that Mary and Joseph would be very disturbed by such prophecies. However, we know Mary and Joseph as people of enormous faith. They place their trust in the Lord no matter what happens.

As we now begin 2020, we too are in a fragile state. Many of us had very little holiday and with the bushfires, the hail storm here in Canberra, the heat, the drought, no rain and now the Coronavirus, we too could be filled with fear and doubt as we begin a new year.

We learn from Mary and Joseph. We place our complete trust in God who leads us and we say to the Lord “Jesus, make us mighty in faith. With Simeon, we declare you right now at the beginning of 2020, as the light to enlighten us all.”


Readings  Is 58:7 – 10  1 Cor 2:1-5  Gospel Matthew 5:13-16

I am delighted to be with you all once again today. I am here to Liturgically Install your new priest Fr. Lolesio Gisa as the Servant Priest of Harden and Cootamundra.

As always, the Readings illuminate our every situation. They certainly illuminate the long and important celebrated Catholic history of the Parish here in this area of the Archdiocese.

All ministry comes from the Sacrament of Baptism. The Priest, however, has a particular role to play in the Christian community. All of us are to draw strength from the Lord’s words in the Gospel when he says, “Your light must shine in the sight of men, so that, seeing your good works they may give the praise to your Father in heaven”.

Therefore, dear Fr. Lolesio may the light of Christ shine particularly in your ministry as Servant Priest here in these wonderful Parishes.

The Scriptures also indicate two important characteristics of all our Christian discipleship, but particularly the role of the Priest.

We get a hint of this in the Second Reading from St. Paul to the Church at Corinth. He says, “The only knowledge I claimed to have was about Jesus, and only about him as the crucified Christ.”

This is the extraordinary boast of Christianity – We glory in Christ Crucified.

We recall when Jesus encouraged the disciples, after His Resurrection, He appeared to them with His wounds. It was not as if Calvary and all the suffering had been erased and all of a sudden a Resurrected Jesus appeared disconnected from Calvary. Quite the contrary. The Death and Resurrection of Jesus come together in the Risen Lord who shepherds the embryonic Church into maturity and says to them, showing His wounds, “Peace be with you.”

Fr. Lolesio, firstly, may your boast be our woundedness and our closeness to Christ Crucified as He leads all of us afresh to the Resurrection. This should not be underestimated considering the current circumstances of the Church in Australia, which is still reeling from the Sex Abuse issues. It is also an important landmark as we gather in a more focused way in 2020 for the Plenary Council of Australia.

Secondly, we get a real insight into Christian Leadership from the First Reading also.

The light of God is to be particularly expressed by the way we approach the poor and hungry. The First Reading says, “If you give your bread to the hungry, and relief to the oppressed, your light will rise in the darkness, and your shadow become like noon.” What a wonderful expression! There are no shadows at noon. We become men and women of that incredibly important word used a few lines before in the First Reading, the word “Integrity.” We are sons and daughters of God as disciples and we are disciple of the Lord’s integrity. We are formed in the full maturity of Christ through the integrity of expressing our Love for God by our love for our needy neighbour.

Let us now continue with our Mass praying for your dear Fr. Lolesio and praying for the communities of which you now become the Servant Priest.


Readings  Lv 19:1– 2. 17-18  1 Cor 3:16-23  Gospel Matthew 5:38-48

The Readings today, for so many people, seem to be almost insurmountable.

In the Gospel today, Jesus makes it quite clear that the requirements of the Old Testament are universalised now in the New Covenant given in His name.

No more is it simply “eye for eye and tooth for tooth” but it is now “offer the wicked man no resistance.”

Even more dramatically Jesus said, “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”, now replaces the Old Testament law of “You must love your neighbour and hate your enemy”.

I remember a young man from China who I was preparing, among others, for entry into the Catholic Church. He studied, very diligently, all that the Catholic Church believes, teaches, and practices to be truth. In the end, he came back to me and said that he agreed with everything except the requirement to love your enemy. He said, “It is not natural to love your enemies.”

I agreed with him that this was the case. However, I said to him it is not natural but it is supernatural.

I meant that to love ones enemies and to live out the New Covenant of the Risen Lord could only happen through conversion and the gift of God’s Life within us. With God’s Life within us, we see things in a completely different vision. We see others with the eyes of faith and not simply our own eyes, clouded with prejudice and narrow mindedness.

It is in this light that we can say, from the First Reading, that we can respond positively to the Lord’s command of, “Be holy, for I, the Lord your God, am holy.”

Holiness, without the presence of the Lord within us, is impossible and indeed unnatural.

It is not that we are Holy but God within us is Holy and alive in His Church. This gives us the capacity to be able to live the life of faith that Jesus demands.

Our loving Father would never ask us to do something of which we were not capable. Through conversion and trusting God, we must try every day of our lives to respond to the new law of universal love that Christ gives us.

We have seen a good example of this in recent times.

You may have seen on the television how a terrible incident occurred in Western Sydney. A man drove recklessly into a group of young children walking along the side of the road. His recklessness resulted in the death of four of the children…three from one family.

We were all gobsmacked when we heard the mother of three of the children saying that she could not hate the man that had done this to her children. She said it was not in her heart or in her religion to hate anybody. These statements went viral throughout the world.

It came so naturally to her. She and her family are very devout Maronite Catholics from Western Sydney. We pray for her and the repose of the souls of her children and remaining family. We thank the Lord for her faith that came instinctively to the fore in a moment of the greatest crisis in her life.

This is a good example of being Holy as God is Holy within us. This is a great example of “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

Let us see that the demands of God are not beyond out reach. They are forever present and responded to by the love of God alive in our hearts.

For this faith, we pray in this Mass, Amen!