Homily – April 2021

1 APRIL 2021

 Readings  Exodus 12: 1-8, 11-14  1 Corinthians 11: 23-26  Gospel John 13: 1-15

 Our Sacred Tradition has indicated that this Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper celebrates the institution of the Eucharist, the formation of the Priesthood, and the teaching on Service.

The Gospel tonight is the Gospel of St John. Scripture scholars indicate that the Last Supper discourse in St John’s Gospel does not focus so much on the institution of the Eucharist. This is foreshadowed in earlier chapters on Jesus, the Bread of Life. Also, after the Resurrection, the various post Resurrection appearances of the Lord are very much Eucharistic in tenor.

Suffice to say, the essential biblical theology regarding the institution of the Eucharist is beautifully summarised in the Second Reading of today form St Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. Perhaps it is the last sentence of today’s Reading that summarises this teaching most eloquently. “Until the lord comes, therefore, every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are proclaiming his death.”

However, in St John’s Gospel, there is a profound teaching on what Christian service is all about.

What does Christian service mean?

The Lord explains, as he so often does, in symbolic actions. We find that whilst they are at supper Jesus “got up from table, removed his outer garment and, taking a towel, wrapped it round his waist; he then poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel he was wearing.”

Although we hear this beautiful scene every Holy Thursday night we may not realise the revolutionary nature of what Jesus was doing. It is perhaps St Peter who indicates the newness of this action. Wonderful and typically St Peter responds impetuously and protests against Jesus washing his feet. This is because foot washing, in that manner, was done by slaves. Jesus was hardly seen in that regard. Indeed He was like the guest of honour. But Jesus is adamant when he says, “If I do not wash you, you can have nothing in common with me.”

Again, impulsively, St Peter responds in the exact opposite way to his previous initial reaction. He says, “Then, Lord, not only my feet, but my hands and my head as well!”

Then Jesus says to them all, “If I, then, the Lord and Master, have washed your feet, you should wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example so that you may copy what I have done to you.”

So we are designated as foot washers of people! This is the central part to our evangelisation!

This should happen not only in deeds but also in the way we speak. In our speech we should be of service to humanity and service to each other. We are to speak the full truth. This is a great service. We are surrounded with a world that only speaks half-truths. This is not “verbal” foot washing at all. It hides ideologies and cultural elitism of which we really don’t want to be a part. We want to offer the full truth of Jesus in full service of the world.

Also, in St John’s Gospel of the Last Supper we find, as we do in most of the Scriptures, contrasts between biblical characters.

In this case it seems we find a contrast between St Peter and Judas.

Judas in St John’s Gospel is seen as the betrayer, treacherous and calculating. His covitedness and ambition is to be seen by all who read the Gospel.

In complete contrast to Judas, is St Peter. He is so human in his mistake prone personality.

Here it is not so much the making of mistakes, even if they are betrayals and denials of Jesus. It is more the contrast between one who asked God for forgiveness and repentance and one who fails to do so. It seems as if Judas was, what we might call today, a perfectionist. He had particular ideas where the Ministry of Jesus should lead. You wonder who was in control. Was it Jesus or Judas?

Such perfectionist based ideals, that are ultimately of a very questionable motivation, cannot be fulfilled. There is a certain hopelessness in Judas’ perfection and we know where that led him in his life. Let us, in our feebleness and mistake ridden response to the Lord, opt for St Peter and ask for God’s forgiveness and repentance.

So in this time of deep reflection on our Servant King, Jesus, and our human response, always opt for forgiveness and repentance. This gives hope. Let us dispel from our responses, rather, the perfection of Judas and the chequered motivation he has towards the Lord.

2nd April 2021

ISAIAH 52/13-53:12; HEBREWS 4/14-16, 5/7-9; JOHN 18/1-19, 42

Let me now offer some rather brief reflections on this Good Friday having just heard the Passion narrative from St John’s Gospel.

So many things could be said. I would just like to offer three humble reflections under the theme of “Life’s three great choices.”

First, it seems to me that one of the big choices that comes through in today’s Passion Gospel is the choice of opting for courage or cowardice.

This Passion Gospel showcases the cowardice of quite a few. In particular is shows the cowardice of Judas the betrayer, St Peter the denier, and Pontius Pilot the fence sitter.

It is interesting to note, that after the three denials of St Peter, a comment is made that “it was cold.” It is not simply a comment on the temperature that night. It is also surely, an assessment of the faith shown by St Peter. It was cold. It was a faith that had become frozen and unable to respond to the challenges of the moment.

We will consider Pilot shortly.

Apart from these examples of cowardice, there are plenty of examples of tremendous courage.

The main one seemed to be the ones who remained at the foot of the Calvary Cross with the dying Jesus. These Biblical characters showed great courage.

The Scriptures identify Mary, the mother of Jesus, Mary Magdalen and St John, beloved of the Lord, and a few others.

They do not say anything directly in the Gospel, they are simply there. In being physically present in silence they show great leadership of courage.

Indeed, they exhibit the first glimpses of the Marian dimension of the Church.

They are happy just to be there in the midst of the chaos of the Cross. They are listening. They are waiting. They are receiving. Later we find, after the resurrection, they are very prepared to give witness to all they have seen and heard. They truly become Missionary Disciples and evangelists of the primitive Church.

Let this be our posture too, particularly as we move towards the Plenary Council of Australia. Let the Marian dimension of the Church shine forth. That being the case, we will certainly find the shadow of the Cross in our Church in Australia and it will lead to the Glory of the Resurrection.

A second observation of life’s great choices could be the choice between loving dialogue or rigidity.

The context for this choice is, how do we respond to “the Mob”?

In St John’s account of the Passion, we find the Mob responding like a swirling sea current in the ocean. Commentators say that some of those who gathered in crowds to shout out “Hosanna to the King son of David” on Palm Sunday were also shouting out “Crucify him! Crucify him!” on Good Friday.

For Mob rule there seems to be no middle ground. They are enslaved to binary arguments of being for Jesus or against Him. There is no middle ground. They become very rigid in their judgments and show no mercy at all to the Lord.

A good example of this would be how Pontius Pilate gives in to the rigidity of the Mob with equal rigidity.

We get a glimpse into the dialogue between the Mob and Pontius Pilate. First of all he says “I can find no case against him.” The Mob are totally against this and immediately respond with “Crucify him.” The Scripture then says that Pilate became fearful. It is written, “His fears increased.” This is what happens when we become subservient to the Mob. The fear climate that they produce seems to drag us down in our own fears and makes us focus on ourselves rather than the objective truth of the matter. Even so, the Scriptures say that “Pilate was anxious to set him free.”

Having said all this, a very sad line in the Gospel is written: “In the end Pilate handed him over.” Clearly, he succumbs to the Mob pressure and was not prepared to stand apart and argue any further way through. In handing Him over he becomes as rigid as the Mob.

On the other hand, there are some examples of secondarily important biblical characters seemingly showing capacity to dialogue in a reasonable manner. This is the only way to respond to the rigidity of the Mob: We must create invitations to a loving dialogue.

We could imagine Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus doing this. I could imagine them in the night meeting at the Sanhedrin trying to apply some sort of opposition to Jesus’ cruel judgement and sentencing to Crucifixion. I could imagine that they tried to introduce some tenderness and softness into the harsh talk of the Sanhedrin.

My basis for saying this is the beautiful act of kindness they both showed at the death of Jesus. Clearly it was the two of them who took Jesus down from the Cross. They then anointed Him and buried Him according to Jewish burial customs. This was a beautiful act of tenderness and an example of people that promote dialogue rather than rigidity.

Let us try and learn to be loving partakers in dialogue rather than adapt a rigidity of the Mob. We could start that even today in our own families, Church and society where tensions always abound. What is our choice in those flash point times of tension?

A possible third great choice we could make by reflecting on today’s Passion Gospel is the life choice of trust or despair.

We have already mentioned Judas: His hopelessness and despair in Jesus. History has told us that he did away with his life. I am also thinking of the two thieves that were crucified alongside Jesus. One showed great capacity to trust in the Lord, even in the last moments of his life. The other thief ridiculed his mate and died in despair. The Mob, at the moment of Christ’s death, have scattered. Also, there is such a disparaging gesture by the soldiers in the way they raffle the clothes of the crucified. What a life! We have also spoken of the despair of Pilate.

Yet, when we look to today’s Passion from St John we see the great trust that is also there. It is exemplified most beautifully in Jesus Himself. After his dialogue with Pontius Pilate, Jesus says very little from then on until His death. We see him offering his mother as a gift to St John and therefore to the Church but apart from a few final comments he takes his Cross resolutely and silently to His Father.

It is almost as if He feels He has done His best to try and argue His case but now it is quite clear that His future has already been decided. Therefore, there is a great beauty in His surrendering to the mercy and power of His Father who he calls “Abba.”

Jesus is saying in a way – “Do your best, let God do the rest.”

The Responsorial Psalm of today echoes the complete trust that Jesus had when it prays, “Into your hands I commend my spirit.” There is a beautiful expression of total surrender at the end of the Passion when it is written, “Bowing his head he gave up the spirit.” In complete trust in His Father the Lord gives up His spirit. It is almost as if He is saying, “Defeated, I am victorious.”

As we take up life’s great challenges let us always choose trust over despair. I am thinking particularly of those who are terminally ill and the pressure that has and will be placed upon them now with dehumanising policies of Euthanasia coming into our legislatures throughout Australia. This policy seems to be fuelled by “the Mob.”

Let us resist this and try to talk sense to people so that those who are entrusting their end of term life will receive a response that is based far more on palliative care than other inhuman responses.

So now let us ask deeply and in silence for the gifts of the Holy Spirit as we go on with the Mass. All the gifts of the Holy Spirit that Jesus offered us on the Calvary Cross. Let us ask the Lord for us to be courageous rather than cowardly. To offer loving dialogue rather than rigidity and trustful hope filled surrender to the Lord rather than despair.

All these choices are perhaps highlighted in our Covid-19 world today when our societal context is so full of uncertainty, fearfulness and worry.

Let us place all our concerns, now on this Good Friday afternoon, on the Cross of the Lord. We know that “through his wounds we are healed” as mentioned in the First Reading. Let us truly believe that wonderful expression, mentioned in the letter to the Hebrews of the Second Reading today, that the crucified Jesus is “the source of eternal salvation.”

ACTS 10/34, 37-43. COL.3/1-4. JOHN 20/1-9

This time last year we celebrated Easter Sunday with all the Churches of the Archdiocese and most of them around Australia, closed.

This year we are no longer celebrating Easter Sunday in the Crypt of this Cathedral, as we did last year, but in the main body of the Church. Thanks be to God! Although we still have some restrictions regarding conduct and numbers in the Cathedral, we are in a far better place than this time last year. Not only that, we are in a far better place than so many other countries in the world.

Indeed, perhaps a city of the size of Canberra is one of the best places on the earth to be with regard to the pandemic. We have had very little community transmitted cases of Covid-19 for many months now. Other places in the world, like Brazil, Italy and France, are in a far worse situation than us. We should pray for them and if we have relatives over there keep in touch by electronic means as much as we can. They need to feel our closeness to them in their frustration and isolation.

In the Gospel of today we hear of St John’s version of Easter Sunday.

We read of Mary Magdalen coming to the tomb. When the stone had been moved away she came running back to Simon Peter and the others, and told of her discovery. When the two of them ran to the empty tomb, there seems to be almost a detective tone in the account. All details are noted in quite scientific expression. The Gospel indicates “Simon Peter…went right into the tomb, saw the linen cloths on the ground, and also the cloth that had been over his head; this was not with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself.” It is a very detailed forensic approach, wouldn’t you agree?

Central to this is the belief of the early Church that Jesus’ body was not stolen or taken away. They were just beginning now to believe that he, in fact, had risen from the dead! The Church, in her wisdom, will now begin Eastertide liturgically. It will mean over the next few months up until the solemnity of Pentecost, we will consider the implications of the Resurrection of the Lord.

Suffice to say, our central belief is contained in the short Second Reading from St Paul’s letter to the Colossians. He says, “You have been brought back to true life with Christ…because you have died, and now the life you have is hidden with Christ in God.   But when Christ is revealed – and he is your life – you too will be revealed in all your glory with him.” In other words if we die with the Lord we will rise with the Lord. The Death and Resurrection of Jesus are absolutely essential elements of Christianity, without this Christianity would not be.

Returning now to that more forensic or detective tone of the Gospel today. People, in our scientific world often ask me questions like the following – What does it really mean that Jesus rose from the dead?

For a start, it doesn’t mean that Jesus started to walk around like a resuscitated corpse. It is not a rising from the dead like Lazarus. Lazarus had to die again. Jesus does not have to die again. In the post-Resurrection text we find Jesus walking into rooms unexpectedly through the walls and sometimes being at several places simultaneously. This is not a resuscitated corpse. Nor is he some sort of ghost.

The First Reading today, from the Acts of the Apostles, indicates that Jesus in fact was amongst them in His Resurrection. The Scripture says, “We have eaten and drunk with him after his resurrection from the dead.” This is no ghost. Jesus not only eats and drinks with them but also prepares them breakfast! Perhaps it is Pope Benedict XVI in more recent decades who has expressed what the Resurrection of Jesus really means. He writes about a completely new evolutionary moment in humanity with the Easter Jesus rising in our midst.

We will consider such matters in greater serenity over the next few months, during Eastertide liturgically and as the Readings of after the Lord’s Resurrection feature in our Gospels.

It is important to say that in the first centuries, the Church did not retreat into herself. The Church has never seen itself like some sort of sect. There was an immediate awareness that in Jesus’ rising from the dead a great energy of joy, hope and peace came upon the “Witnesses of the Resurrection.” This is the expression that first defined Christians. They hardly removed themselves from the world. Rather, they re-entered the pagan world of that time eager, to the point of death, to shout to the world that though Crucified, Jesus has now Risen in their midst.

We too, as we await the Second Coming of Jesus, will through the mercy of God, rest in the Resurrection of the Lord. This new humanity in the Risen Lord will come upon us. Exactly how this will happen and in what way we do not know. But, we readily join now the energetic and vibrant faith of the early Church who knew, that in the Lord’s Resurrection, the world could never be the same.

So now, let us enter into the liturgy of the Eucharist with great thanks and praise to God for His many blessings.

This is the day that the Lord has made let us rejoice and be glad!

11 APRIL 2021

 Readings  Acts of the Apostles 4: 32-35  1 John 5: 1-6  Gospel John 20: 19-31

Before we focus on the Easter encounter with the Risen Lord in the life of St Thomas in today’s Gospel, let us make a few general reflections about Easter time.

Starting from last Sunday, Easter Sunday, until Pentecost Sunday, the Church Liturgically moves into Pascal time or Easter time.

Could I make four very short “compass points” to help us orientate ourselves to Easter time?

First, these fifty days of Easter are not separate days or separate weeks. It is best to see the Life, Death, Resurrection, Ascension and Pentecost of Jesus at this time as one great feast rather than separate. This will help us to move away from a purely chronological understanding of Easter time and see it more as the “Kairos” (favourable) time of the Holy Spirit’s life in the early Church.

Secondly, we rejoice with the early Church in this time over the great Christian claim. This claim has been seen in the Sequence Octave of Easter which has been prayed before the Gospels over the last week. One of the expressions of this famous and ancient Sequence had caught my eye. It proclaims, “Life’s own champion slain yet lives to reign.” This is the great Christian claim. The Crucified Jesus (Life’s great champion slain) has Risen from the dead (lives to reign). The Death and Resurrection of Jesus are at the centre of Christianity. Without this Christianity cannot be.

Thirdly, we participate in this new covenant of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus via our Baptism and Eucharist. This is highlighted in the Second Reading today from 1 John 5. Recall that in St John’s Passion narrative at the time of the Lord’s Death, blood and water flowed from His side. Our ancient Church Tradition has seen this as the birth of the Church through the Sacraments (water) and Eucharist (blood). Last week at the Easter Vigil, for instance, this was celebrated in a special way with the Baptism of adults and their initiation into the Catholic Church through the Eucharist and Confirmation via RCIA.

Ancient authors on these points draw the difference between life “without” Christ and life “in” Christ. Life without Christ is viewing our life as being born and eventually dying. Through Baptism and the Eucharist, and our participation and entry into the Death and Resurrection of Jesus by the Sacraments, we die and then we are born into everlasting life through, with and in Jesus the Risen Lord. It is good for us to think about this over Easter. Our participation in the new Covenant through the Sacraments draws us into everlasting life. As we say at funeral Masses, “Life is changed but not ended.”

Fourthly, the Easter Scriptures over these next few months present us with some wonderful Biblical stories of the Easter Lord and the emergence of the Church. They do far more than just tell us lovely Biblical stories. It is the significance of the Easter event, more than just the relating of historical details, which is at the centre of our focus. We see this in the First Reading. The early Church immediately begins to see the significance of the Easter Mysteries upon the Nascent Christian life.

From the Acts of the Apostles in the First Reading we hear, “The whole group of believers was united, heart and soul; no one claimed for his own use anything that he had, as everything they owned was held in common.” Those living out the Christ life in the community of the Holy Spirit began a radically communitarian life.

The First Reading also bears witness to the early definition of who a Christian is. We hear from the Acts of the Apostles, “The apostles continue to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus with great power.” In other words, the ancient definition of a Christian is that they are “Witnesses to the Resurrection.” Let us reflect carefully upon this ancient definition and in Easter renew our vigour in fulfilling this basic Biblical definition of a Christian.

If I could now move to make a few brief reflections on today’s Gospel on this Divine Mercy Sunday and bring out the Christian proclamation that “resurrected” love is at the same time “merciful” love.

In today’s Gospel when Jesus visits the Apostle after His Resurrection, there is both a receiving and a sending out of the Holy Spirit given by the Lord.

The early Christian community, like breathing in visibly, are told to “receive the Holy Spirit.” The Easter Jesus “breathed on them.” Just as God breathed into the nostrils of Abraham in the Book of Genesis and gave humanity life, now the “new” Adam, the Easter Jesus, breathes into the Apostles, gives them peace and they are “filled with joy.”

There is not only a breathing “in” but there is also a breathing “out.”

The breathing out or the sending out is understood when Jesus says, “As the Father sent me, so am I sending you.”

Being witness to the Resurrection is a kind of breathing out of the Holy Spirit into the world in which we live.

This Pentecost moment takes time to ignite the Apostles. It is not instantaneous for all. The Holy Spirit respects our freedom. It is God Himself who has given us this freedom.

In the many different types of Pentecost that we will have presented to us in the Liturgy of the Word over the next few months, we will see the Easter Jesus waits for our “Yes” with great mercy.

On this Divine Mercy Sunday, we see this particularly in the personality of St Thomas.

He was not with the Apostles when Jesus first came. In a moment of stubbornness and using a scientific excuse to base his belief at this stage. He says, “Unless he can put his hands into the holes that the nails made into the body of Jesus, he will refuse to believe.”

A week later Jesus patiently returns and invites Thomas to do what he wants. When the woundedness of his lack of faith meets the redeemed wounds of the Easter Jesus, he experiences great mercy and healing. He is humbled and given hope. His scientific world view is expanded to take in the full panorama of our full human destiny in Christ.

May this also happen to all of us here in Australia. We live in a highly scientific world. We reply in humility to the encounter with Jesus with St Thomas’s great summary of our faith when he says, “My Lord and My God!”

At the end of today’s Gospel we find that St John talks about many other “Pentecosts” of the Easter Lord “but they are not recorded.” That which is recorded in the Scriptures are there “so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing this you may have life through his name.” Let us embrace His invitation of grace at this Easter time so that we might believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that in His Easter presence we find our true humanity.

I leave you today with two prayer possibilities for you to repeat over and over again in the week ahead, especially if you feel the challenges of life are overwhelming. Let us repeat many times St Thomas’s prayer – “My Lord and My God!” Let us also pray the beautiful short prayer of St Faustina, the Polish Saint of Divine Mercy and the mystic from Kraków, Poland, when she says in front of the merciful Lord, “Jesus, I trust in you.” Amen!

18 APRIL 2020

 Readings  Acts of the Apostles 3: 13-15. 17-19  1 John 2: 1-5  Gospel Luke 24: 35-48

 Welcome everybody to our Easter Mass. We have welcomed so many of the different migrants groups of the Archdiocese to join us.

There is an expression in English which I presume would also be quite common in the different cultures and languages. It is the following – You see from where you stand.

Take St Peter for example. Just a few weeks ago, during Holy Week, we saw him in a kind of valley. Jesus had been arrested. He was outside the place where Jesus was being held. The mob was there and it was dark and cold. The Scripture says, “It was cold.” It was not a statement only about the temperature, it was also about St Peter’s faith. St Peter’s faith had gone cold. When he had been challenged three times by one of the mob about his association with Jesus, he denied that he knew Jesus.

At the time after the Resurrection, Jesus appeared to St Peter. He asked him three times, “Do you love me?” It was St Peter’s time for repentance and forgiveness. He was now, not in the valley but up on the mountain top. The great power of forgiveness was taking place in his life.

In the First Reading today from the Acts of the Apostles we see St Peter definitely preaching from “where he now sees.” He now sees the presence of the Risen Lord alive in his life and is no longer full of fear but full of faith. In very courageous words he says, “God carried out what he had foretold, when he said through all his prophets that his Christ would suffer. Now you must repent and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out.”

So St Peter now sees from where he stands. He stands on his belief in the Resurrection of Christ. He sees three hundred and sixty degrees.

In the Gospel today we see that the other Apostles, immediately after the Resurrection, are seeing from where they are standing as well. Alas, they are not standing at all! The Scripture says in to today’s Gospel that they were “in a state of alarm and fright…agitated…doubts rising in your hearts.” They can only see themselves in their sense of bewilderment.

Into this “mess” Jesus the Risen Lord appears. He prays down upon them the Easter words that are spoken so often by the Lord, “Peace be with you!” Through various means, especially by eating grilled fish, he tries to move them beyond the valley of disbelief that they now find themselves in.

We know from Pentecost that they have become, like St Peter, not people of fear but people of faith. They become, what Jesus asks them to become – Witnesses to the Resurrection.

Seeing from where they are now standing they go out to the world proclaiming “Jesus is Lord and Saviour!”

At this Multicultural Mass today we welcome so many from different cultures represented here in this Archdiocese.

Whenever I am with migrant people I feel that this is a “mountain top experience!” Upon reflecting on why this is the case, I always find myself in great admiration of migrant and refugee people in Australia saying “Yes” to three great truths of life.

First, thank you so much, migrant and refugee people of this Archdiocese for saying “Yes” to the truth of your Christian faith.

So many of you come here with different priorities and hopes but the one thing you always bring with you is your Christian faith. We understand that Australia invites people from all different faiths and by and large all the different faiths are represented in a vibrant way in our new Australia. But for those of you here who are Catholics, you bring your Christian faith with such vigour. Thank you so much.

Secondly, so many of you say “Yes” to the truth of the central importance of Marriage and family.

You believe in Marriage. You believe in having children. You take Marriage seriously. Australia needs you, not only to increase us in numbers for without the migrant population Australia’s population would fall strongly into the negative, you increase our understanding and love of Marriage and family life. So many of you are gathered here today with your families. It is central to your lives. Thank you so much.

The third “Yes” that you bring to Australia is the truth of making a contribution to Australia.

I do not often take taxis but when I do I invariably find myself being driven by someone who was born overseas. Quite often, after a conversation, I find that he is a highly educated man. I have been driven around so much by people with PHD’s and Doctorates! You all have a great humility. You understand that you need to master the English language and progressively, over a period of time, move upwards in your career. You do this with such a great desire to make a lasting contribution to your new home – Australia. Thank you so much.

Could I add two final practical hopes as we go on with the Mass from seeing from where we stand on the “mountain top!”

Hopefully from this Multicultural Mass we can spread the message that a big Australia is a great Australia. We should keep encouraging politicians to increase immigration levels to a much higher level than they are at the moment. I understand they are low at the moment due to the Covid-19 situation. Even so, our numbers in the future should be increased dramatically. This is good for all of us.

Also, in relation to the global pandemic and the role-out of vaccines, I feel migrant people have a contribution to make here as well. Clearly, Australia is one of the safest places to be in the world at the moment in regard to the Covid-19 numbers. So many of you come from places where the numbers are completely out of control. I am thinking of people from Brazil, India and certain parts of Europe. I have friends in Northern Italy who have been in lockdown for most of the last six months. Yet, we find there is a lot of squabbling going on about the roll-out of vaccines in a world where the need is far greater than for us here in Australia. Let us learn from our migrant people who can tell us we need to be patient and have a global perspective and not just a local perspective on this incredible crisis.

25 April 2021

 Readings  Acts of the Apostles 4: 8-12  1 John 3: 1-2  Gospel John 10: 11-18

 Today is Anzac Day and also the fourth Sunday of Easter. At first glance, it seems that there is not a huge amount of commonality between these two important days. But, upon reflection, I have found a word that is very common to both. That word is “Memory.”

“Memory” has a range of meanings. Let us consider three.

First of all “Memory” is important so that we can be grateful…Lest we forget!

Today we are mindful and so grateful for all the generosity of spirit, from Anzac Cove in April 1914, until today for all those who have given their lives and their energy for the freedoms we take for granted here in Australia.

So many of our freedoms in Australia have been born out of the sacrifices of others. In no shape or form do we glorify war-it is always a defeat for humanity. At the same time, it is important that we acknowledge such heroism of those who defended all that we have in Australia and taken for granted in regard to freedom.

Then, secondly, there is “Memory” so that we can imitate.

There is much to imitate in today’s Gospel. It is the predominant Gospel image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd. Before the Cross was made a public object of veneration in our Churches, from the earliest years we had the image of Jesus the Good Shepherd.

It is important in today’s Reading that Jesus is described as not any sort of Shepherd but as the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd is the one “who lays down his life for his sheep.” You are probably aware that in the times of Jesus, the Good Shepherd had only a small number of sheep and he would view them as we today view pets.

He would know their names and they would certainly know his presence. The Good Shepherd as mentioned in today’s Gospel protects them from the wolf, “because I lay down my life in order to take it up again.” The Good Shepherd is the one who protects them from the wolf and prevents them from scattering. The Good Shepherd is a unifier and protector.

There is that lovely image of the good Shepherd at night forming a make-shift circular fence with brambles and thorns so that the sheep can sleep within that little compound. At the gate, the Good Shepherd himself would lay down and sleep there. If a wolf were to come it would need to go over his body. The Good Shepherd would be alerted and take defensive action.

In today’s Mass, we are also delighted to welcome members of our Seminary which is called the Seminary of the Good Shepherd. Happy feast day! We welcome tody its new Rector, Fr Michael de Stoop and a number of seminarians including our own Eden Langlands. During this Mass, Eden will participate with me in a very short Liturgical Rite which indicates his public desire to be considered as a candidate for the Diaconate and Priesthood later this year and please God next year.

We are delighted that some parishioners from Bateman’s Bay are here today. They formed a focus group for him when he was there for 12 months last year during his pastoral placement. I thank them so much for their advice to me as we co-discern if God is calling our brother Eden to the Priesthood. Please note, that not only the Archbishop and priests but also the lay faithful – men and women – are involved in co-discerning this important step in the life of the Church and Eden.

Dear Eden, it is clear that you are talented and that you have been attentive to all your seminary training. But please be animated by the First Reading today when St Peter stands up after Easter and proclaims proudly the Death and Resurrection of Jesus. Before he does this the text says, “Filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter said…” So before he started preaching he was filled with the Holy Spirit. May you always see that you too ask the Lord to fill you with the Holy Spirit lest you give simply of yourself and not of the Spirit of the living God living in you.

Thirdly, there is “Memory” so that Jesus can be made present again.

We now move into a very theological and Sacramental understanding of the word “Memory.” Learning from the word “Memory” in Hebrew and Greek we have a far deeper understanding of what this word means than the simple Australian understanding of the word.

So, theologically, “Memory” in this context, is not a misty recollection of past events. On the contrary, it is looking back on the saving events of Jesus – His Life, Death, Resurrection, Ascension and Pentecost, in such a way that renders them present in the celebration of the Eucharist.

Here we find “Memory” re-presenting all that took place at The Last Supper in the present moment of the sacrifice of the Mass. This requires deep thought. Whereas some of our dear Protestant brothers and sisters would say that this is a representation or some form of symbolic action. We Catholics go a lot further. We say that Jesus is really and truly present through the Sacrificial Memorial of the Mass. Later on, the Church’s Tradition would rightly proclaim the doctrine of Transubstantiation to explain this. But suffice to say, at this stage the word “Memory” is a very important aspect of making Jesus really and truly present today. Let us not forget that after the elevation of the Body of Blood of Christ in the Eucharistic prayer, we repeat the words of Jesus when he said, “Do this in Memory of Me.”

So now let us move on to the real and true presence of Jesus’ Body, Blood and Divinity, and as we continue our Mass on this Anzac Day, realising that there are so many aspects for us in recalling the meaning of the word “Memory”, especially to be grateful, to be a source of imitation, and to make Jesus present again.