Resolutely facing our future - Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time 2019 (Ad Limina pilgrimage)

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Home > Archbishop > Homilies > Resolutely facing our future - Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time 2019 (Ad Limina pilgrimage)

We bishops have now completed our Ad Limina Apostolorum. We have crossed the threshold – for limina means threshold - and prayed at the tombs of the two great apostles, Peter and Paul. We have met with Peter in the figure of Pope Francis.

The Masses celebrated at the tombs of St Peter and St Paul united us with the founding fathers of the Catholic Church. At the end of the Mass when we bishops solemnly recited the Apostles Creed before the tombs of these two great saints, we confirmed our unity with the faith they preached and reaffirmed our commitment to teach the ancient apostolic faith and ensure that it is faithfully passed on to the people of our dioceses.

To stand before their tombs and declare the faith was a moment in which we became aware once again of the Catholic faith that has been passed on from generation to generation.  In these times when we are aware of a serious decline of the faith in the lives of many in our nation and when there is evidence of a serious confusion in the lives of many about some key elements of the faith, this moment was a time for each of us as bishops to declare from deep within us: credo, I believe. As bishops we are aware of our responsibility to ensure the whole of the faith is preserved and taught in our dioceses.

In meeting with Pope Francis we affirmed our communio with him. We were moved by the fraternal spirit that characterised our meeting with him. This meeting was a time of encouragement for each of us to continue our ministry as bishops alongside him, finding inspiration and wisdom in his teaching and example.

The liturgy of the Mass today returns us to the prayers and readings of Sundays in Ordinary time. In the opening prayer we prayed that being children of light we may not be wrapped in the darkness of error, standing firmly in the light of truth. This sentiment expresses our conviction that the Catholic faith is the source of light, of truth, of wisdom, not only for believers but for human society. The Catholic faith sheds light on every aspect of life. The radiance of truth dispels the darkness that can come upon the human mind. As our Australian society jettisons its Christian heritage, one senses a growing darkness descending on our society. We know that our steady and determined proclamation of the faith is needed to ensure that the darkness does not prevail.

While there are now very real pressures on Christians to be silent, we know we cannot allow this to happen for fear the society will more and more lose its way and many, many lives will be enshrouded by darkness, and souls will be lost in shadows and fear.

We can see that in times ahead our way as Christians will be very difficult. We may face more and more opposition. We may be denied basic human rights in freedom of religion. Our institutions which currently enjoy much success may be denied the right to express their Catholic identity. We may experience forms of political and economic persecution.

In the Gospel today St Luke describes a very important moment in the public ministry of Jesus. After several years in which Jesus enjoyed the freedom to wander the towns and villages of his land, peaching, teaching and healing, he knows his time is limited. Indeed, Jesus is aware that he must now take the path to his eventual death. St Luke simply records, “Jesus resolutely took the road for Jerusalem.” Resolutely. He knew was lay ahead for him. At this moment he embraced his destiny, even though there would be moments of great distress and inner anguish. However his destiny to be realised in Jerusalem was in fact the purpose of his coming – he was to go to Jerusalem to redeem humanity. His death would release the grace of salvation for all of humanity.

The tenor of St Luke’s Gospel changes at this point, for the shadow of the cross lies over everything that he now says and does. Not only does he know that his time is short, but he also now must personally engage with the prospect of suffering, rejection, and death itself.

In this context he comments of what he expects of his disciples become more into focus. There is no free ride. There is no easy path to glory. There is no soft way of living. Discipleship has a hard edge to it. Choosing this path is actually choosing the path of redemption, of one’s destiny being under the grace of salvation.

To someone who enthusiastically says that they will follow him, he quickly replies that there will be no human security in such a choice: “Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” Don’t look for material comfort if you choose to follow me. But there is a greater prize available. It is eternal comfort and joy.

To the man who says that he will follow once his parents have died, Jesus warns that putting off the call could result in the loss of the call. When the moment is there, a decision must be made. There is a moment of grace that needs a full and generous response.

We bishops will return to Australia and resume our tasks. We are conscious of the many challenges we face as a Church. But we know that our lives are under the grace of salvation and indeed we minister the grace of salvation.

Like Jesus, we Christians – we bishops in particular – resolutely face our future with an abiding confidence that we have the words of eternal life. We face our future with a serene hope which is sprinkled with joy.

Archbishop Julian Porteous
Sunday 30 June, 2019