04/12/08 Homily-Travelling Towards Inclusion

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Parish of the Travelling People


Homily Notes of
Most Rev. Diarmuid Martin
Archbishop of Dublin and Primate of Ireland
Pro-Cathedral, 4th December 2008
The Gospel reading we have just heard belongs to series of texts in which Jesus speaks about judgement and warns the early Christian againsfalse prophets.   Today that same message is addressed to us.  The problem is that we do not necessarily understand these terms correctly.

When we speak of final judgement we tend to think of something that will come at the end of time, and that means for most of us a very long way away.  Something that is a very long way away has less impact on our lives than something imminent.   When young people enter their final year at school they know that they are in the leaving cert class:  but leaving cert is a very different experience the week before the exams begin.
Judgement is not something a long way off, around which we can take a risk that we still have time to get things right.  Judgement is now.  Judgement is Jesus Christ himself.  Jesus is present today and the way we shape our lives today is judgement, the judgement of Jesus is about how we live up to the standard set by his person and his teaching today.
Christianity is not just about a book; it is not just an ethical code or a high moral idea.  It is about an encounter with Jesus, who appeared in human history in that real saving event of his life, death and resurrection and who is present with that same saving power today.
Judgement is about how we recognise Jesus as the revelation of the God of love and how we respond to that love.
And the false prophets?  When we think about a false prophet we think of someone who teaches false doctrine or who leads people astray into heresy.  We think of someone who brings a false message of gloom about disasters or someone who leads people along a false track through a misinterpretation of the Word of God, reading it I his or her own terms rather than opening their hearts to the integrity of that saving message.
If that were the case we could all easily identify who are the false prophets.  The real problem is that we are the false prophets.  We are the one’s who do not live fully the message of Jesus Christ.  We are the ones who are as greedy and as nasty and as uncaring and as dishonest and as immoral as any one else in the rat-race of this world.  The difference is that call ourselves the Church.  If our lives are no different to those who have no belief, what kind of prophecy is our life witnessing to?   If we fail to live the message of Jesus in our world, then we are the false prophets of the twenty first century.
The message of Jesus is not one which should leave us in fear or leave us fearful and without courage; it is a message of love which demands that we respond with a similar love, especially to those who do not have the opportunities that we have had.   The community of the friends and disciples of Jesus is a community in which his love for every person is witnessed to.  
This morning we celebrate with the Parish of the Travelling People as they launch an initiative “Travelling towards inclusion”.  The travelling people are our brothers and sisters.  The Parish of the Travelling People provides specific services to them, but they belong in all our parishes, wherever they live at the time. They have their own traditions and identity and they have every right to keep those traditions whether they live, whether in a settled context or still travel as they ancestors have done.
Traveller children are children of talent and opportunity, of dreams and hope just like your children or my nieces and nephews.  A society of inclusion will rejoice at their talents and at their diversity and be happy for them to be part of our communities. 
I hope that this initiative, which will last for the next four years, will see that our parish communities especially become more open to our travellers.  Travellers encounter exclusion and marginalisation in so many aspects of their lives.  The aim of this initiative is to ensure that they do no feel excluded in our Church communities also.     I pray that our Churches will be communities as we heard in the first reading this morning: “Open the gates, Let the upright nation come in”.  With the coming of Jesus the upright nation is no longer a single people, but those in every people who live an upright life.
Travellers are under-represented in many of our structures and ministries in the Archdiocese.  I hope that this initiative will attempt to ensure that in all our parishes there be room for Travellers to bring their contribution: in Parish Pastoral Councils in ministries, in altar servers and in ways in which different members of the community bring services to others.
Our Gospel reading speaks of a Church and a Christian life built on strong foundations.  That foundation is the realization that God is love and that we are called to follow that path of love.   The foundation is the fact that absolute love exists, in God.  We have seen that absolute love in Jesus Christ who loved us till the end.   That love can prevail in our lives and in the lives of our Christian community