Homily of Archbishop Diarmuid Martin
Closing of the 2005 Novena of Hope
Archbishop Martin celebrates the closing Mass with Fr. Frank Keevins C.P. Parish Priest and Fr. Kenneth Brady C.P.Assistant Priest.
Archbishop began declaring his happiness to be in Mount Argus for the end
of the Novena of Hope. For him :-
"Mount Argus is a house of Hope. I say that because it is one of those churches where for generations, Dubliners have come to pray and they have come on great occasions like this evening on a Novena. But they have come also on their own in the secret of their own hearts. This is a church where my own father would like to come and say a prayer. He would never pass the church without saying a prayer. So many would come here to say a prayer in times of difficulty, in times of sorrow, and in times of anxiety, and they came full of Hope that their prayers would be heard. As many of you here this evening would know yourselves from experience they go back to their daily lives changed with new hope and you promise
Hope has never been so necessary as in our times. Our modern world has changed many things, delivered many new things, for good and for evil. Science has produced remarkable progress in fighting illness and disease and the same science has produced a new range of weapons of mass destruction for killing people. Science has produced remarkable inventions in the area of communications, breaking down barriers, ensuring that more people have more access to knowledge and can make progress. Yet modern Communications has also brought a culture of violence, times of depravity, a banalisation of life and its deepest values. Science has produced a range of goods and services which render life easier or more enjoyable for us. But a consumer mentality has simply increased the craving for more and more, leaving an empty void in the hearts of so many.
In today's world Hope is perhaps the one feature which is becoming rarer and rarer and yet we need Hope today because we live in a world where anxiety has increased and were people are distracted from the one true sense of hope which is Jesus Christ who died for us that we might have life and have life to the full. When we say life to the full in this world that fullness of life is actually hope. Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again. We pray that every day at mass and we pray again a little later when we say "we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Saviour Jesus Christ". Christ will come again. Through his death Christ has destroyed sin and death, through his resurrection he has opened for us the path to new life. And now as we wait for Jesus to come again and bring all creation to the fullness of redemption we know that we can live in hope. Because we know that Jesus was gone along that path before us and will bring us with them.
Hope is not an empty optimism. We still live in a world which is marked by evil and sinfulness. Evil has its own logic which sucks in those who turn to it, it sucks them into an ever deeper spiral of evil. Just think of the violence, of the murders which have marred our own city in the past months. Evil sucks people into a spiral of evil. Violence, exploitation, attempts to dominate others for the criminal gain - they are not the paths of hope in any society. We must all work and pray that such violence will cease and that the perpetrators of violence will listen to the voice of their own consciences. Because, one day, like it or not, they will have to render an account of their murderous deeds to the God of life and of hope.
Our God is the God of life and of hope. He is the one who opens up new paths for us. He is the one who opens opportunity for young people so that they can realise their gifts and talents. He is the hope of parents who want to see their children grow to maturity - the God of life and hope and promise.
Our Christian hope can only be rooted in one thing the goodness and loving kindness of God. If we place our hope just in human projects we remain on that level. Hope is not rooted in the ability of economists, the genius of scientists, or in contemporary culture which so often leaves people sad and empty. We have to learn to hope beyond hope and that means that we acquire the ability to hope beyond human confines and open ourselves up to something that is greater than us something that is above us, the transcendent and the infinite love and goodness of God. It is the infinite love and goodness of God alone which gives us grounds for true hope. When we experience and allow God's love to come into our lives and we begin again to love and to hope. Hope, however is not running away from the world into some type of spiritual world on its own. The Christian who has hope should indeed be in the forefront of science, economy and culture and he should be there giving witness and reason for his Hope and explaining how Hope in Jesus drives us forward. Our faith never tells us that we will not encounter difficulties along the way of our life but it gives us the serenity of those who know that the path has been trodden before us by Jesus. It gives us that intimate peace knowing that we can work together in proclaiming, celebrating and living out the goodness of God.
We heard in the Gospel the story of the marriage feast of Canaan. It is a simple story. Above a wedding in which the wine runs out and about the possible embarrassment that this might cause to the person who invited Jesus. Jesus, at the instigation of his mother, resolved the problem. He does it in a very discreet way. There is no great show. Most of the people there did not even notice. The steward of the feast, who showed had been managing the event in every smallest detail, can't understand what happened. It is with us the same. Jesus brings us hope in the depths of our hearts. Sometimes before we even realise it ourselves and what his presence means. It is only with time that we understand how Jesus has turned to us with his generous love and has helped us in our moment of difficulty. There is another thing about the miracle. Jesus never provides just the simple answer to the question he was asked. He goes way beyond anything we may expect. He goes beyond in this Gospel in both quantity and the quality of the wine. He does not give them any wine - he produces good wine, and the best wine. Something they might not even have asked for. With our prayers his answer is similar. He gives us the new wine of the Gospel - the fruit of his gratuitous and superabundant love and of his fidelity to us. He is always faithful to us in the unknowns of our daily existence.
And again Mary is present at this wedding - a model of hope. She is there quietly, almost invisibly. She intervenes with her son when the necessity appears. She still directs our world today. She directs it with her son towards what is just and worthy and she ensures as in the past the power of God's Fidelity is present in our lives because she was the one who was always faithful to Jesus and her fidelity is the witness to the fidelity of God who reveals his infinite love in Jesus Christ.
We celebrate this year the Novena in the "Year of the Eucharist". The Eucharist is the highest expression of Christian existence and is the bond between faith and life. When we celebrate the Eucharist we say this at the words of consecration - we do it in memory of me. In memory of Jesus and if we do that then our own lives, our own Christian existence must also be lived in memory of Jesus Christ. Being a Christian means living out that memory which is made present in the Eucharist. It means been attentive in everything we do to what Jesus said and what he did. We have too translate the memory of Jesus into the concrete actions of our own lives. If Jesus offers himself in sacrifice then our lives too must be sacrifice. If you Jesus is the Crucified One then we have to take up our cross day by day. If Jesus is the one who gives himself up for us in love then we cannot sit round thinking only about ourselves but we have two live that same self-giving, caring love that he did. If Jesus is the Risen One, the glorified one we know that he has opened the path of Hope for us in the future. If he is the manifestation of the God of Love, Eucharistic community must also be a caring community. We live the reality of the Eucharist, the memory of Jesus, by translating that memory in those acts, those attitudes those gifts of Jesus into our own lives.
I am very struck by one phrase the new Pope used at the beginning of his pontificate at the ceremony in St Peters Square when he said about people - each one of you is the fruit of a single thought of God. That present in this church this evening there are hundreds of these small fruits of a thought of God. Each of us is different. Each of us reflects some different aspect of God. We have too allow that gift to flourish in our lives so that together we reveal God and we live out our lives in memory of Jesus Christ. Eucharist and life belong together. The love of Jesus which we celebrate must then become the driving force of our lives in our homes, in our families, in the way we relate with one another. And also in the vision of the society and the future we want to attain. We know that in the Eucharist we pray again that we are brought together in unity by the Holy Spirit. Our lives must always then be focused on those factors which bring people together in unity and in harmony wherever we are.
Hope springs from
the Bread of Life that Bread which nourishes us in the Eucharist and inspires
us to live our lives in memory of Jesus Christ Amen.