If you are looking at a particular sermon and it is removed it is because it has been updated.

For example Year C 2010 is being replaced week by week with Year C 2013, and so on.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) 2013

3rd. Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)
(Nehemia 8:2-6, 8-10; 1st. Corinthians 12:12-30; Luke 1:1-4, 14-21)

The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to bring glad tiding to the poor.  He has sent Me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, those words of Jesus “a year acceptable to the Lord” made passing reference to the jubilee of the year A.D. 28.  Nearly 2000 years on, we still know something of the significance of the jubilee tradition in Israel having experienced a modern jubilee in the year 2000.  A jubilee year was meant to be one of renewal and rejoicing: renewal for all whose ways had been wandering from the right path, and rejoicing for the suffering and needy who were to receive redress for past injuries and help in present difficulties.  Even in modern times and among nations and international organizations overwhelmingly concerned with politics and money rather than with religious issues, nevertheless, in the year 2000 that spirit of jubilee enabled many poor nations to have their debts substantially reduced.

In our Gospel reading Jesus was just beginning His public ministry, beginning with a jubilee proclamation of the Good News that, through Him, God was offering forgiveness, healing, and salvation to His People, and through His People to the whole world. Jesus was offering and inaugurating a whole new relationship with God; a relationship whereby mankind would be freed from the bonds of sin – the source of all our suffering -- and endowed with the Gift of the Spirit Who would form us in Jesus as children of God, children for whom God would be a true Father, children who would share an eternal inheritance in heaven with Jesus.  This Good News that Jesus was announcing in this ‘the favourable time’ was indeed something to be celebrated, and in this respect we should remember how Mary our Mother was urged to respond to God’s offer of a Saviour when the angel Gabriel addressed her at the Annunciation.  He began telling her of God’s offer by saying, Rejoice, Mary, the Lord is with you.  The Christian message, the Good News of Christ, cannot be mutely accepted, it calls for wholehearted rejoicing from Mary and from all her children.

Despite doubts and differences among scholars the words Jesus addressed to all those in the synagogue who were looking so intently at Him after His reading from the scroll of the prophet Isaiah:

            Today, this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing,

can have no real meaning other than the literal meaning, Today, this Scripture passage (which I have just read to you from the prophecy of Isaiah) received its fulfilment as I was reading it to you.

Long ago Jesus the newly-fledged ‘son of the Law’ had been too hasty in His desire to be about His Father’s business; since then He had passed many years in humble obedience to His parents, in observant appreciation and service of the human society in which they lived, and, above all, in ever-deeper prayerful communion with His heavenly Father Who spoke to Him so clearly from the Scriptures, and in synagogue and Temple worship.  As Saint Luke tells us, Jesus spent those many years in Nazareth: 

            Growing in wisdom, and in divine and human favour (2:52).

His divine wisdom and constant communion with His heavenly Father eventually led Him to join those receiving baptism from John the Baptist; thus giving honour to John as His own forerunner, who, as Jesus came up out of the waters, was uniquely privileged to perceive: 

the heavens being torn open and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon Him.  And a voice came from the heavens, ‘You are My beloved Son, with you I am well pleased’.

Endowed with such a gift of the Spirit, Jesus had been led by the Spirit into the desert where, by His incomparable knowledge and understanding of the Scriptures, He utterly confounded the Devil in direct confrontation.  His preparation for public ministry was clearly well and truly established.

At Cana in Galilee His divine wisdom and human favour enabled Him to respond to His Father and accept Mary’s special maternal blessing by performing, at her request and with great joy, His first miracle, which not only honoured her but also:

            Revealed His glory and His disciples began to believe in Him.  (John 2:11)

And so, the Baptist having been privately acknowledged and rewarded; His mother Mary reverenced and honoured by acceding to her personal request by a miracle which served not only to comfort her friends and neighbours in distress, but above all – in the Father’s wisdom -- served to alert her dear Son that His Father’s business was at hand and ready to be done with disciples at His side.   Jesus’ joy to undertake, and His power to see through, His heavenly Father’s commission was now manifestly ready and primed.

Today, in the synagogue at Nazareth Jesus actually began His public ministry to Israel and mankind by manifesting something of:  

            (His) growth in wisdom, and in divine and human favour

gained among them and with their help over some seventeen years as Son of Mary (and the now deceased Joseph the carpenter) and son of the Law.

For, after He had handed back the Isaiah scroll to the synagogue attendant:

            The eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at Him.

They were looking approvingly, and indeed, were speaking highly of Him since:

            They were amazed at the gracious words that came from His lips

What kind of wisdom has been given him? He speaks with (such) authority and power!  Where did this man get all this?   

We ourselves can and should ask such questions ... not in the aggressive manner the Nazarenes would soon manifest, indeed ... but with admiration, love and longing, for they are most penetrating questions and could prove most helpful for us if, in Mother Church, we can glean some answers that we might ponder and profit from. 

What kind of wisdom has been given Him?  It was indeed divine wisdom ... not the type gained by reasoning and through discussion and argument, but the type that must be humbly, gratefully, and patiently received, admired, treasured and protected.

He speaks with (such) authority and power!  Jesus revealed the secret of His authority when He said later to His opponents:

My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me.  If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority.  He who speaks from himself seeks his own  glory; but He who seeks the glorty of the One who sent Him is true, and no unrighteousness is in Him.  (John 7:16-18)

Where did this man get all this?   From His Father:

I have not spoken on My own authority, but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak, and I know that His command is everlasting life.  I am not alone, because the Father is with Me (John 12:49-50; 16:32).

All that Jesus had was from the Father gained by Jesus as man through His constant communion with the Father in prayer, liturgical worship, and perusal of the Scriptures:

He said to (the Apostles’), ‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everythings written about me in the law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.’  Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.  And He said to them, ‘Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day. (Luke 24:44-46)

He spoke in the same way to two disciples on the way to Emmaus after His resurrection, and their recollection of that occasion was unforgettable:

Did not our hearts burn within us while He talked with us on the road and while he opened the Scriptures to us? (Luke 24:32)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, Jesus has so much to offer us all.  In this regard, we recall the sisters Martha and Mary, dear friends of Jesus, who remind us that many, like Martha who ‘did the work’, are inclined to accuse the Mary’s who continue to sit at the Lord’s feet in many different ways, as being reprehensibly idle.  Jesus calmed the situation by making clear that although not everyone can closely attend to the things of God as did Mary, nevertheless, no one --- no matter how beneficial and helpful their worldly endeavours – can exclude such attention from their lives, because, as He put it, Mary had chosen the one thing necessary.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) 2013

2nd. Sunday (Year C)
(Isaiah 62:1-5; 1st. Corinthians 12:4-11; John 2:1-11)

In today's Gospel we are shown Jesus bringing great joy to a young couple threatened with deep embarrassment and no little sorrow, and we note that Jesus' blessing came into their lives through Mary.  

Today, He does the same in and through Mother Church, His Mystical Body, which works, suffers, and prays to bring the blessings of His grace and truth to all the nations, and to further the establishment of God's Kingdom here on earth; as He Himself had foretold when speaking to His disciples before His Ascension:

Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.  (John 14:12)

Jesus is now seated at the right hand of His Father in glory where He is totally devoted to giving glory to His Father and winning salvation for His brethren on earth and in need: for Jesus is, indeed, totally and gloriously selfless:

And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.   (John 14:13)

In the first reading Isaiah showed Jesus' desire to bring us salvation and have us share in His own glory, by the words:

For Zion's sake I will not hold My peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a lamp that burns.   

And looking back at Mary in the Gospel reading we see how Jesus has made her glory shine out before our eyes like a lamp burning to guide us to salvation:

When they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, "They have no wine."  

Apparently, Jesus did not think it a matter that concerned Him personally:

(He) said to her, "Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come." 

However, Mary had devoted herself totally and unreservedly to the welfare of her Child: nourishing Him, protecting Him, and supremely, teaching Him all she knew of God in order that He might learn how, in human flesh, to respond to His heavenly Father and live, as His Son, among men; and now she is about to be rewarded.  She is to be allowed, indeed, to be inspired by the Father, to help her Son hear, recognize, and embrace His heavenly Father’s call to begin His public ministry of salvation.

At His recent baptism in the Jordan by John, Jesus had been manifestly acknowledged and inwardly confirmed by His Father’s heavenly proclamation.  Moreover, He had been endowed by the Gift of the Holy Spirit, and then finally prepared for His future labours and spiritual combat by His victory over the Devil in the desert contest.  He was, indeed, ready, and all was prepared and poised for Him to begin His work of salvation.  However, He would not repeat His youthful ‘mistaken’ zeal to ‘be about His Father’s business’ ... He must watch and wait for His Father’s specific commission.

Of course, Mary did not, and could not, know that of which Jesus Himself was unaware. Nevertheless, just as God the Father willed to honour John the Baptist by allowing him to baptize His Son, so too He willed to honour Mary -- the most perfect mother of His only-begotten Son -- by moving her to help Jesus start out upon the work for which His heavenly Father had destined Him, for which His earthly childhood with Mary and subsequent years of obedience as Son of Mary and Son of the Law had been preparing Him, and for which His baptismal experience in the Jordan had now primed Him.  How did Mary, under God's inspiration, do this?

Very simply, as you would expect:

            His mother said to the servants, "Whatever He says to you, do it." 

That was indeed simply said, but it was certainly not expected.  Jesus would have seemed to want no part in relieving the rather embarrassing shortage of wine at this local wedding... after all, it was probably not such a rare occurrence when wedding celebrations went on for up to seven days with guests coming and going and when the families involved were rarely rich.  Whatever the case, Mary -- the humble handmaid of God -- gently insisted with her Son by turning to the servers standing by and saying, "Whatever He says to you, do it."  All eyes, therefore, were now firmly and expectantly fixed on Jesus.

Such behaviour, such insistence, was strange, most strange indeed for one characterised by her great humility, and the incongruity of it was enough for Jesus: He recognized His Father’s grace guiding His mother’s behaviour, just as He would later recognize His Father’s part in Peter’s humble confession and open declaration that He, Jesus, was the Christ, the Son of the living God:

Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.  (Matthew 16:17)

Here at this wedding feast in Cana Jesus recognized that His Father was honouring Mary, and indeed was inspiring her to give her Son her very own special, maternal, blessing, by calling on Him for a miracle that would celebrate the fact that the hour for Him to really start about His Father’s business had, at last, come!!

What joy filled His heart, and what expression and significance He gave to that joy!  Around 150 gallons of best wine filled those 6 stone water jars brought by the servers:

All you who are thirsty, come to the water!  Come, without paying and without cost, drink wine..!   (Isaiah 55:1)

Wine, fruit of the Vine!  I, Jesus, am the vine, the fruitful vine ... so much wine, so great a vine 

... Drink from it all of you, for this is My blood of the covenant ...  from now on I shall not drink this fruit of the vine until the day when I drink it with you new in the kingdom of My Father.   (Matthew 26)

God would not take Mary's Son from her, she would give Him as she did those years ago when presenting Him in the temple at Jerusalem.  God would not take Mary's Son from her, He had not done that to Abraham, He would not do it to Mary; moreover, Mary, being greater than Abraham, was allowed to give her supreme blessing to her Son and Saviour and thus help Him set out with great joy along the way that would lead, ultimately, to His Passion, Death, and glorious Resurrection.  Isaiah's prophecy was being fulfilled:

You shall also be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.  (Isaiah 62:3)

Mary's own words too had been prophetic:

My soul magnifies the Lord, for behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed; for He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name. 

Today, that same work of God, that abiding desire of Jesus, for our salvation and glorification, is being carried on and brought to fulfilment through the Holy Spirit at work in and through Mother Church and in the souls of Jesus' faithful disciples, as St. Paul says:

The manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all. 

Moreover, Paul assures us that we are all called to share in Jesus' work:

To one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 

St. Paul could make only a small choice, because the gifts of God cannot be numbered and no one is left ungifted.  Some of those gifts are, indeed, beyond our imagining: for example, how could anyone have foreseen that the Father would inspire Mary to persist in her request even though Jesus, initially, did not want to know anything further about her concern?

People of God, all disciples of Jesus should have no doubt that He can and does will to make use of the talents of each and every one of us, thereby associating us with Himself, in His work for the glory of His Father and the salvation of souls.  We, for our part, however, must, first of all, want Him to do this with our lives; and then we must learn to listen for His voice and to respond immediately to the promptings of His Spirit, that we might be able to carry out His will and share in His  work.  Only in that way can Isaiah's prophecy be fulfilled in us:

            Nations shall behold your vindication, and all the kings your glory.

God has already begun to do this for Mother Church: the greatest empires and the mightiest kings have, over two thousand years, come -- in all their power and magnificence -- and gone, despite all their cruelty and cunning.  Mother Church has withstood and outlived them all.   And those other prophetic words:

You shall be called by a new name, pronounced by the mouth of the Lord,

are also being fulfilled for her in us her children who have been baptized and made a new creation through water and the Holy Spirit, a new creation with the new name of children of God in Spirit and in Truth. 

God wants this work to continue, He wants us, in Mother Church, to share in the glory of His Christ; and, by the Spirit, to offer His salvation to all mankind:

There are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all: the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all.

People of God, despair neither of God nor of yourselves.  Some there are who say they are not gifted enough to do anything for God.  That is an attitude of mock humility, because it contradicts the words of Scripture for, as St. Paul tells us, the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all; indeed, such an attitude is sinful, since it would blame a supposed lack of generosity on God’s part to cover up personal self-love and indifference. There are others, however, more sincere and humble, who are tempted to think that because they have done nothing remarkable, therefore they have done nothing.  Some of them then go on to think that not having done anything shows that they cannot do anything, and, despairing of themselves, they are then tempted to give up.   Don't let the devil deceive you, my dear People, such thoughts as those can be the testing of a humble mind, but only provided that they do not lead you to that last step and final trap of "giving up". 

Mary knew that she had done nothing herself:

He who is mighty has done great things for me, He has regarded the low estate of His handmaiden;

she was acutely aware of her lowliness and never tried to make herself anything other than what she was before God.  Mary did not seek to make herself known or appreciated by men: her desire was to do God's will, to be most truly His handmaid; and it was for that reason that she was so prompt to hear and obey God at Cana when He called her to give her last great instance of motherly guidance to her Son.   It was Mary's selflessness that made her the wonder she is: she always heard, recognized, and responded to God working in her and through her for His Son.  This Jesus had long recognized and frequently admired:

And it happened, as He spoke, that a certain woman from the crowd raised her voice and said to Him:

 "Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts which nursed You!"  But He said, "More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!"   (Luke 11:27-28)

People of God, God can do anything with those who are humble, those who truly seek Him first and foremost in their lives and who are willing to trust Him in all things.  Ask Mary to pray for you; beg the Holy Spirit to guide you; thank God for His goodness to you in Mother Church.  Do these things and the Holy Spirit will be with you to form you into an ever more close and true likeness of Jesus; bringing forth fruit in Him and with Him for the glory of the Father and the salvation of souls.                           

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Baptism of Our Lord Year C 2013

BAPTISM of Our Lord (C)
 (Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7; Acts of the Apostles 10:34-38; Luke 3:15-16, 21-22)

There was an atmosphere of tense expectancy among the crowd thronging to John by the banks of the Jordan: there was something about the man -- his solitary life-style, his obvious asceticism, and his powerful words – all of which made him seem like one of the old-style prophets whom the present generation of Jewish faithful had only heard spoken of as being from what seemed a dim and distant past.  Indeed, but there was something more about John the Baptist: an undeniable and yet mysterious something which was causing many to think that he might possibly be the promised Messiah -- the Christ, as St. Luke puts it -- for whose coming Israel had been praying for centuries.  Although John did his best to dampen these expectations of him, nevertheless, people came crowding to him for his baptism; and they were so centred on the person of John that they probably did not notice at all the figure of one more young man quietly joining the queue moving forward for baptism.

However, with the approach of that young man John’s ministry was nearing its fulfilment and his true purpose and identity were about to be revealed, for that young man had once – many years before – been brought (while still in His mother’s womb) to John, himself then shortly to be born, for John’s sanctification and preparation for his life’s work.  And now that young man – Jesus of Nazareth – was being led to John once again, this time by His heavenly Father for His Son’s Personal commissioning and manifestation, and for John’s fulfilment as supreme witness and faithful forerunner:

            He must increase, I must decrease.

Jesus, at His ‘coming of age’ as a son of the Law, having long recognized and now, for the first time, openly declaring God to be His most true and only Father, had – after being ‘lost’ in Jerusalem and, despite His youthful longing to be doing His Father’s business -- been led to recognize His duty to Mary His mother (and Joseph while still alive) to return with them to Nazareth and to live there obediently until His human maturity.  He grew in grace and favour before God and men, but His own longing remained the same, to be about His Father’s business, and He did ever await, and ever more diligently listen for, His Father’s call in all the circumstances of His daily life and professional work, above all, however, in His Personal prayer and participation in synagogue worship.

He had heard of John the Baptist’s prophetic work and of its effect on many of Israel’s faithful; and He had begun to wonder if He should be there, where people were openly acknowledging their need of God, and where His Father was manifestly at work .... He so longed to seek out His Father’s traces!  And thus it came about: Jesus joined the crowd of God-seekers around John; listening and watching, not so much for John, His publicly-acclaimed relative, as for His own supremely beloved and, as yet, most secret Father.

When that apparently indistinguishable young man was actually receiving John’s baptism a voice spoke from heaven and a dove descended on Him: John saw the dove and perhaps heard the words spoken; the people, however, though they sensed the unique atmosphere of sacred presence, saw and heard nothing humanly distinct, because the words from heaven were directed not to them but to the young man Himself:

When Jesus had been baptized and, (as He) was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove.  And a voice came from heaven, "You are My beloved Son; with You I am well pleased." 

John had been prepared for such a vision, for God had told him that:

One mightier than (he was) coming, who (would) baptize (the people) with the Holy Spirit and fire. 

As a result, John had been able to recognize Jesus when he saw:

            the Holy Spirit descend in bodily form like a dove upon (Him).

 John might even have been permitted to hear those words the voice from heaven addressed to Jesus; however, it may also have been that such personal words from the Father in heaven to His only-begotten Son were too intimate and too holy for even one so exalted as John the Baptist to be allowed to hear.  Consequently, we in Mother Church should recognize that we are wonderfully privileged to know not only what the Jewish penitents by the Jordan certainly did not know, though Jesus was bodily present in their midst, but also what perhaps even John the Baptist himself was not allowed to hear; and that, of course, would be in perfect accord with the words Jesus was to speak later concerning John (Matthew 11:11):

Among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 

Nevertheless, whether or not he heard the words, John most certainly saw the Spirit descending like a dove on Jesus, and would, undoubtedly, have immediately recalled what had happened to Noah in the beginning (Genesis 8:10-12):

Noah sent the dove out from the ark.  Then the dove came to him in the evening, and behold, a freshly plucked olive leaf was in her mouth; and Noah knew that the waters had receded from the earth.

Noah realised that mankind’s punishment had come to an end when the dove returned to the Ark bearing the olive branch in its beak, for that was a sign that the waters of the flood were retreating and land was once more to be seen: land waiting to bring forth fruit again for those surviving the punishing flood.  Likewise, when John saw the Spirit descend like a dove on Jesus it is highly likely that he was prophetically privileged to appreciate that mankind’s ancient servitude to sin was coming to its end and that they would be enabled to find, once again, acceptance and peace with God through this mysterious young relative of his, Jesus, now standing before him, dripping water and engrossed in prayer.  John knew well those words of Isaiah which we heard in our first reading:

Behold! My Servant whom I uphold, My Elect One in whom My soul delights!  I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles.   He will not fail nor be discouraged, till He has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands shall wait for His law.

Indeed, it was with such a One in mind that he had told the waiting people:

I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 

The Son, with Whom the voice of the Father declared Himself delighted, was -- as Son -- One with the Spirit in the glory of the Father; He was thereby, indeed, able as the Messianic leader to receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit in His human nature and, indeed, would shortly ‘deploy’ that human fullness of Holiness and Power for the very first time by entering upon the ultimate preparation for His public ministry through an encounter with and victory over His arch-enemy, the Devil, in the desert, the Devil’s very own dwelling-place.

We learn from words of Jesus recorded by St. Luke (12:49), words spoken shortly before His final and conclusive encounter with the Satan on Calvary, with what dispositions Jesus received His baptismal endowment of the Spirit:

I came to send fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! 

Jesus received in His own humanity the Spirit He would subsequently pour out over human kind in and through His Church; for the hearts and minds of those true disciples who would have faith in, and give obedience to, Jesus could only be cleansed of their native sinfulness by such a Gift as the Spirit, Who, in His cleansing activity would indeed show Himself as a Spirit of fire: a purifying fire preparing the way for the new life and growth of a new People, the Body of Christ.

That ardent longing of Jesus to ‘send fire on the earth’ was, indeed, the very purpose for which, having risen from the dead, He expressly equipped His Church, the very work He confirmed His Apostles to spearhead: 

When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.  And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.  Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. (Acts  2:1-3)

John the Baptist had spoken of the work that Jesus’ baptism would accomplish when he declared:

He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.  His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather the wheat into His barn; but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire.

That was how John, the greatest of Old Testament prophets, understood the image of fire.  However, that is an understanding we can and should appreciate more fully in the light of the subsequent work of Jesus here on earth and of His Holy Spirit in the life of the Church.   The Spirit would indeed ‘burn the chaff’ in the hearts of His chosen ones, and the greater their obedience and docility, the more they would allow Him a free hand in their lives, the greater would be the blaze of purifying love He would kindle and enflame within them.  For the world at large, however -- for those stumbling and hurting themselves in the darkness of sin -- He would show Himself to be the Spirit of Love and of Truth, a tongue of fire enabling the Apostles and prophets of Mother Church to proclaim the love of God and His Good News of peace for all of good will (Matthew 10:20):

It is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you. 

People of God, let us learn from the baptism of Our Lord something of the nature of our vocation.  If the Spirit of Jesus is to be heard by the world around us, a deeply sinful world delighting in its own disfigurement … if He is to be heard and appreciated by them in the manner of that beautiful word-picture painted by the great prophet Isaiah (52:7) who says:

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims peace, who brings glad tidings of good things, who proclaims salvation;

if, indeed, we are to help our world encounter Jesus as He Himself wanted to be found by them:

The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed (Luke 4:18),

then, People of God, we must implore the Spirit of Jesus to work in us as fire, as  purifying fire in our very deepest selves, purging us ever more and more from our sinfulness, and enabling us to commit ourselves ever more whole-heartedly to Our Lord and Saviour.  That is the only spirit of sacrifice, the only testimony of fraternal love, that can make us true disciples of Him Who sacrificed Himself for the sins of our world.  We cannot trust in our own presumed zeal and good intentions; for what is needed most of all today is not that we -- as individuals -- show off ourselves as good people doing good things, nor that we -- as a body -- continually try to come up with new ideas, new gimmicks, to attract people; but that the Spirit of Jesus is able to find a welcome in the hearts of the men and women of our day thanks to Mother Church’s authentic proclamation of, and faithful witness to, the Good News of Jesus, and by our own deepest prayers and most sincere endeavours to allow the Spirit to work fully and freely in us, leading us along the ways of Jesus: ways of self-sacrifice for the good of our brethren and ways of gratitude and praise for the glory of our Father in heaven.