Homily for Pontifical Mass of Friday of the Third Week of Advent with Agency and Chancery Staff for the conclusion of the year at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Parramatta 16 December 2016
Today we gather to take stock of what God has done for us and through us as co-workers in his vineyard. It is an opportunity for us to pause, give thanks and celebrate God’s grace which has enabled us to carry out our mission in the church.
We realise that we are deeply flawed human beings and prone to self-interest. And yet in spite of our weaknesses, God works with us and through us to bring about change and transformation, for ourselves and for others. It always amazes me how God can use unusual characters throughout human history to achieve something even beyond our imagination. From Paul of Tarsus to Jorge Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, from Mary of Nazareth to Mary MacKillop, there seems to be a divine predilection for the unlikely. We learn through these men and women that it is not so much our capability as our openness to the gratuity of God’s love that makes a difference.
I would think that we are here because we want to make a difference and not simply because it is just a job that we happen to do for a living. The difference we make is not merely measured by the role we play or the amount of work we do. It is rather judged by the quality of our faith manifested in words, attitudes, actions and especially mutual relationships. So I take this opportunity to thank you for the way you have cared, nurtured and supported one another. Thank you for your patience, generosity and love for one another.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus spoke about the testimony of John which affirmed his identity as the Messiah. John was described as the lamp that lighted the way for others to come to Christ. Perhaps that is what being a Christian is all about, like the finger pointing to the moon. Our discipleship has to do with leading others to Christ, the way the truth and life. Again, it does not have to be something extraordinary that we are capable of doing. I love that saying of St Therese the Little Flower “Do little things well”. As long as we do little things well in our power, we become the channel of God’s love and the sign of his presence.
Jesus also spoke of his own testimony in terms of what he did. People in faith, experience this kingdom wherever they encounter him. In him, they in turn meet the God of their ancestors in a concrete and powerful way. Jesus made the kingdom of God a reality wherever he went.
We too are called to make God’s kingdom a reality in our own time. We too are to walk the dusty road of life to meet people’s wounds, hurts, sicknesses and broken relationships.
We can easily feel overwhelmed by the challenges and numbed by the negative things around us. It is important for us not to lose sight of our identity and mission. It is important for us not to lose sight of our identity and mission. It is important for us to connect to the greater reality of the church in the world. We are not in it for success, the numbers, the accolades. Nevertheless, even as a humble instrument of God, we have something positive, something life-giving, something uplifting to offer to others.
We are challenged to show our worth by our action that demonstrates our belief. The true Christians today are those who live by conviction rather than by profession. True Christian’s today are known by quality of their witness rather than by quantity, number or any external measure. Let us pray that we have the courage to respond to God’s call to live our discipleship authentically. May we follow Christ in the nurturing and realising of God’s reign of love and justice, even in the midst of doubt and uncertainty. May Christ’s victory on the cross be our guiding light and our inspiration at all times.
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