God is the source and destiny of our nation - Australia Day Sunday Third Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

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Home > Archbishop > Homilies > God is the source and destiny of our nation - Australia Day Sunday Third Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

Today our nation celebrates Australia Day. We naturally reflect on our land and its history. We consider the many blessings of living in Australia – the freedoms we enjoy, the level of security and standards of living, the opportunities and hopes we have for our future. On the whole we are grateful for all that is offered to us in living in this nation.

While we are thankful for what we have, we are aware of events of recent months. This summer has been a horrific one for Australians. We watched as fires burnt through millions of hectares of bushland in many parts of the nation. Several thousand Australians lost their houses and livelihoods. Over twenty people lost their lives. And as well as the scourge of the bushfires, large sections of the country were still gripped with drought.

Then when the rains came they brought relief in many places, but also produced local flooding and devastating hail storms in Melbourne and Canberra.

We cannot celebrate Australia Day without an awareness of the suffering that has affected many lives in recent months.

Australians are blessed with a vast continent with many different weather conditions. We are the driest continent on earth, yet we have areas of rich vegetation and generous rainfalls. We have vast areas of great agricultural capability. We know this very well here in Tasmania with many parts having rich soils and steady availability of water.

We describe nature as a mother, Mother Nature. The wise and provident Creator has given nature the role of nourishing and sustaining life. The earth’s resources are the essential source of human sustenance. The weather conditions are often benign and enable the earth to be fruitful. However, Mother Nature can cause devastation and much harm, as we have witnessed here in Australia over the past months.

We human beings even despite our extraordinary advances in technology are so dependent on the climate conditions. We are increasingly conscious of our responsibility to be good stewards of what God has created.

Today we can thank God for the blessings of the earth, but also pray, as we have been doing, for an end to the fires, for rains to quench the drought and protection of all our citizens and their homes and livelihoods.

Australia, of course, is not just the physical country, but in the end it is the people. Now our nation reflects a great diversity of nations, as people continue to arrive from every corner of the earth. We are particularly conscious of our First Peoples and the grave dislocation to their culture and way of life due to the influx of peoples. We continue to respect their heritage and work towards effective reconciliation.

As we celebrate our national day we are thankful that we live in harmony and mutual respect. We acknowledge that our culture has been enriched by many different cultures.

Our basic stance is one of welcome to those who are accepted to come to our shores.

Our nation’s cultural and spiritual heritage since settlement by Europeans has been Christian. Until fairly recent times Australians saw themselves as being a Christian country and its government, laws and morality were founded on the Christian tradition. This is now changing. We have an increasing presence of people from different world religions. More significantly we are witnessing many Australians choosing to claim to have no religion.

There are powerful forces at work in our society seeking to dismantle its Christian traditions and moral and spiritual underpinning. Along with this is a growing persecution of Christians and the Churches. We witness the Christian voice being silenced and legislation being introduced to bring in social changes which we believe go against God’s good plan for human life.

What will happen to our nation in the years ahead? This is a subject for our reflection and prayer. We also need to consider how we as Christians can continue to offer our nation the Christian understanding of human life and human society. The Church has a vital mission of proclaiming faith in God and proposing a sound moral way of living.

As we read in the Gospel today Jesus began his public ministry with the declaration: “Repent, the Kingdom of God is close at hand.” He called people back to God. The word repent could be best understood in this context as a call to reorient one’s life – to change direction from preoccupation with earthly things, with satisfying self, with wrong moral practices, and turn back to God who is the true ground of human existence. Human life makes no sense and has no future without being founded in God.

This message is the message that we need to communicate to our nation. Our nation will not truly prosper without a recognition that God is the source and destiny for every human life.

As Catholics we not only live in our nation and enjoy its benefits, but we have a mission to ensure that its soul is not lost. Our most important service as citizens is to witness to and proclaim the Christian way of life.

As Jesus unequivocally declared that God is all in all, so must we declare to our nation that Christ alone is the way, the truth and the life. 

Today let us pray for our nation, in thankfulness for what we have, and in intercession for its future.

Archbishop Julian Porteous

Sunday, January 26, 2020