We pray for peace - ANZAC Day 2019

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Home > Archbishop > Homilies > We pray for peace - ANZAC Day 2019

ANZAC Day always occurs close to our Christian commemoration of the passion, death and resurrection of our Lord. This year ANZAC Day occurs within the Octave of Easter. Thus, in the liturgy the Mass is that of the Thursday of Easter week.

While we continue to celebrate the resurrection of the Lord, today our minds are naturally directed towards our nation’s commemoration of ANZAC Day. However, Christ’s own sacrifice for our sake gives a clear Christian perspective to ANZAC Day. Our Christian faith declares that Christ’s death on the cross was a personal act of sacrifice.

Sacrifice is the laying aside of personal interests and is oriented towards the good of others. Thus it was for the Lord. Jesus, in reflecting on his own fate, commented that a man can have no greater love than to lay down his life for his friends.

The Easter mystery which we have just celebrated provides us with spiritual insight into our nation’s remembrance of those who have served and died for their country.
We often find that a war cemetery has a large Christian cross in a prominent position. The link between the death of our soldiers and Christ’s own death on the cross is clearly in evidence.

Our national commemoration of ANZAC Day, 25 April, is held on the day of the dawn landing of Australian and New Zealand soldiers on the Gallipoli peninsula in 1915. Both countries had only recently become independent nations within the British Empire. They joined British troops in the campaign on the Gallipoli peninsula.

This landing occurred over a century ago. While it is now part of history, it has become the basis of a national day which is solemnly celebrated. In recent years as the centenary of the battles of the Western Front were commemorated attention was directed also to places in Europe in which Australian and New Zealand troops fought. Last year our nation recalled the final battles of the war to end all wars. The centenary of the Armistice was commemorated last November, as the guns fell silent on the Western Front.

While ANZAC Day is linked to one particular campaign during World War I, it has come to be the day in which our nation remembers all those who have served their country during times of war. In particular, it honours those who have died in the service of their country. In this Mass we commend them to the Lord.

ANZAC Day is respected in our country as the opportunity to be aware of the sacrifices made in the defence of our freedom. We are aware that apart from the two World Wars, Australians have served in many theatres of conflict. We are also conscious today of those in our defence forces who are currently serving in conflict situations.

We enjoy freedom today because others were prepared to protect our freedom. We remember with gratitude all those who were willing the serve the future wellbeing of our nation.

We are also aware on this day of many places in the world where conflict continues. This week we have been stunned by the Easter Sunday attacks in Sri Lanka. In particular we are aware that these attacks were particularly directed at Catholics attending the Sunday Mass celebrating the resurrection of Christ. We are conscious of the suffering caused by these savage attacks which were directed against innocent people. We pray for those who died in these attacks and for the many grieving families of victims.

We are made aware, once again, of the persecution of Christians across the world.

In this Mass today which is a combination of the joy of Easter and the solemn remembrance of those who have died in the service of our country, let us pray for peace and an end to all war.

Archbishop Julian Porteous
Thursday, 25 April 2019