‘Drawn by the Father’ - Thursday of the third week of Easter at the Clergy Plenary.

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Home > Archbishop > Homilies > ‘Drawn by the Father’ - Thursday of the third week of Easter at the Clergy Plenary.

“No one can come to me unless he is drawn by the Father.” These words speak of the mystery of that is the life of faith. We often say that faith is a gift. We have not arrived at faith due to the exercise of our human reason. Faith is an action of the Holy Spirit. St Paul declares that no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ but through the Holy Spirit. It is the Father who gives the Holy Spirit. The Father has drawn us to have faith in his Son. Coming to faith is an action of God the Father through the Holy Spirit.

God has no grandchildren. Each of us becomes a son or daughter of God in our own right. In this sense we can say that faith as a living personal relationship with God cannot be somehow handed down from generation to generation. The faith as a cultural phenomenon creates an environment in which a person is oriented towards the faith and this is very helpful. However, each person must, in some way or other, come to a personal response to the faith witnessed around them. Faith is powerfully mediated through the sacraments and indeed sacramental moments can be the moments of personal encounter with God which lead to personal faith. However, when the prevailing culture is inimical or antagonistic towards faith, this is much more difficult to occur. Thus, we speak of people, especially young people, who are sacramentalised but not evangelised. They have been initiated into the faith but don't have a living faith.

Hence, in our present society the priority for the Church has to be the work of evangelisation. By evangelisation I mean a presentation of the Kerygma which creates an opportunity for a person to make a real and personal response; to open their hearts and lives to grace which then inflames the heart with the fire of faith. They hear the voice of God beckoning them. They experience an inner movement, a desire, a longing. They are being called and they hear the call and choose to respond.  

Faith is an action of grace, mysterious and wonderful. Faith is, in the end, pure gift. We consider ourselves extraordinarily privileged to have faith and far more humbled by the fact that we have been called to be priests and deacons.

Faith enables our spirits to soar beyond the limits of our human thinking. Faith takes us into transcendental realms. We come to know the God whose love is constant, whose mercy is beyond understanding, whose saving power works steadily and consistently in us. We, who have faith, are caught in a stream of remarkable blessings. We have seen our desperate prayers wondrously answered. We have seen the providential hand of God time and time again. We have seen miracles. God is real, is alive, is active in our life. We are filled with joy and our lives assured by hope.

It is this faith that has animated the lives of countless millions of men and women. Faith has been their guide, their consolation, their inspiration. Faith has produced the glorious band of martyrs. Faith has inspired men and women to devote their lives to the pursuit of the things of the spirit in our contemplative tradition. Faith has set a fire in the hearts of our great preachers and missionaries. Faith has stirred men and women to devote their lives to the service of the poor, the suffering and those on the margins. Faith has nourished lives of families enabling children to be raised in a profoundly spiritual and moral environment.

Faith opens the human heart to the grandeur of the transcendent vision of reality; to the world of glory and beauty. It was faith that led to the building of the great cathedrals, while modern man can only construct towers of glass and steel. It was faith that enabled Western civilisation to produce some of the finest works of art and music. The human spirit has soared to great heights inspired by the vision of faith.

When the winds of the prevailing culture are strongly blowing in the opposite direction, as they are in Australia today, we have to depend on the overt action of divine grace. There are many in the Church who struggle with their Catholic faith. They are at once drawn to their Catholic faith which is their heritage and yet want to be part of the culture. They seek an accommodation whereby their faith and the culture are able to be reconciled. Thus, they want the Church to change and embrace prevailing cultural norms. They find themselves frustrated that the Church does not seem to be moving with the times.

They have a heart which loves the faith but a mind which has been fashioned by the culture. These are ones who eventually find it too hard to stay with the Church.  Like the disciples at the end of Chapter 6 of St John, they simply come to the point that the teaching of the Church is too hard and they walk away. This is a cause of great sadness for us priests and deacons. However, it is also an impetus for us to find ways to provide evangelising moments whereby the grace of God can flow and touch people’s lives.

“No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father.” We are humbled by these words. The great mystery is that I have faith. I do not have any right or claim to the treasure of the faith. By God’s great mercy I have come to know his Son and love his Son and have given all to his Son. I have come to embrace this path of life and salvation offered through union with God in Christ.

Faith is a gift I have undeservingly received. I am so grateful for this gift. I am humbled that I have been drawn into the divine life of grace. I am aware that my soul has been endowed with a flood of grace and my mind has been enlightened. I have been led to know truth in its luminous beauty. And I am part of God’s holy people, the Church. I have been caught up in God’s plan spanning the centuries of raising up a people as his own in the world. I thank God that by his mercy I believe.

Archbishop Julian Porteous
Thursday, 19 April 2018