Monday, August 4, 2008

Bp Jarrett's Homily at Juventutem WYD

Having contacted His Lordship, Geoffrey Jarrett, Bishop of Lismore, N.S.W., I have received his kind permission to post the texts of his catechesis and homily delivered at St Augustine's, Balmain, to the Juventutem and other pilgrims there, on Wednesday the 16th of July 2008, during the week of WYD in Sydney. (These will also be available at the website of his diocese.) I would like to record how great a debt I owe to him for this and also for the great influence for good that he has had, over his priestly and now episcopal life, on myself and so many other former and current parishioners and Catholics around Australia and beyond.

Here is his Homily, given at the Pontifical Mass he celebrated, in honour of Our Blessed Lady of Mount Carmel:

Homily: Mass of BMV de Monte Carmelo
St Augustine’s Balmain, WYD08, 16 July 2008

It is fitting that we should be considering in our World Youth Day catechesis the Person and work of the Holy Spirit on a feast day of Our Lady. In speaking to you this morning I have been aware that Mary would be the most excellent catechist on our subject of the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity. Is there any human being whose life was so intimately surrendered as an instrument of the Spirit, in whose life the power of the Holy Spirit was so uniquely fruitful?

The Catechism (721) speaks of the all-holy ever-virgin Mother of God as the ‘master-work’ of the mission of the Son and the Spirit in the fullness of time. It goes on to say, For the first time in the plan of salvation, and because His Spirit had prepared her, the Father found the dwelling-place where His Son and His Spirit could dwell among men. In this sense the Church’s tradition has often read the most beautiful texts on wisdom in relation to Mary. Mary is acclaimed and represented in the liturgy as the “Seat of Wisdom”.

Yes indeed, dear brothers and sisters, as we heard from the Book of Wisdom in this Mass: the phrases applied to Mary seem to tumble over each other to sing her praises: “Come to me all who desire me and be filled with my fruits. I am the Mother of fair love and of holy hope; my spirit is sweeter than honey, and my heritage than honey from the comb. In me is the grace of the way and of truth; in me is the hope of life and of virtue.”

This woman of a thousand titles has been called indeed the Spouse of the Holy Spirit, who covered her with His shadow at the Annunciation when at Gabriel’s message the eternal word leapt down from heaven as from his royal throne, and made his home in her immaculate womb.

We can go on to follow Mary in the company of Her divine Son, as the Holy Spirit brings people into communion with her Son: the shepherds, the magi, Simeon and Anna, he bride and groom at Cana, and the first disciples.

And she is there at the foot of the Cross with the beloved disciple as the Spirit is delivered to her, the Mother of the Church, as the water and the blood, the fountain of the Church’s sacramental life flows forth. And so to Pentecost, where she witnesses the great outpouring of the Spirit to the ends of the earth until the end of time.

Yes, Mary knows all about the power and work of the Holy Spirit. And how active the Church has found Mary to be across the centuries, in apparition after apparition, acting as the spiritual mother of all mankind and being the channel through which Christ her Son wills to mediate to us the graces of salvation. Accordingly the Church has not failed to act on the promise made to St Simon Stock in the thirteenth century, that those who in devotion to Mary wear the scapular of Carmel will not suffer eternal fire. Mary will intercede to ensure that all who are devoted to her in this way will obtain the grace of final perseverance, that is, will die in a state of grace. And on via Guadalupe in 1531, at the Rue de Bac in 1830, La Salette in 1846, Lourdes in 1858 and Fatima in 1917, to name but a few, Mary appears, speaking most often to the simple and pure of heart, sometimes sweetly, sometimes sternly as a Mother does, bringing about not only the healing of the sick of body and soul but the conversion of nations and cultures.

When Pope John Paul in 2003 added the icon of the Blessed Virgin to the travels of the World Youth Day cross, he was wanting to remind young people of Mary’s love for them and her presence in their lives. The Pope was also challenging young people to imitate her virtues by finding in her the model to follow. A model in saying yes to God, to taking up God’s plan for my life rather than just pottering along with my own, a model of joy in the hope of the fulfilment of God’s promises to me, a model in bearing with life’s trials and setbacks and the sins of others in the knowledge that these shadows will vanish in the light of Christ’s face, when we invite His spirit to be part of our lives, and do everything in our power to please Him.

Like St John going down from Calvary to make a place for Mary in his home, may you also return from this World Youth Day with a determination to provide her with a renewed welcome in your heart. The Apostles did that after Pentecost so that the power they received would indeed make them true witnesses. In the Name . . .

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