16/10/04 Homily at Annual Interdenominational Remembrance Service of the Irish Kidney Association

16/10/04 Homily at Annual Interdenominational Remembrance Service of the Irish Kidney Association

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Homily Notes of
Most Rev. Diarmuid Martin
Archbishop of Dublin
Corpus Christi Church, Drumcondra
16th October 2004


“God’s love is from generation to generation”. “His mercy is from generation to generation”.  This is a theme that rings out throughout the entire biblical tradition.  God’s love and mercy have accompanied the journeying of humankind from the beginnings of human history right until our time.

We do not live for ourselves.  We are not destined by God to live alone.  From the very beginning, God intended humankind to live as a family.  The Old Testament stories of creation stress that we all have a common origin; therefore we are all bound together as family in interdependence.  Recent research into human generics shows clearly how the human family, despite all its diversity, is very clearly one close genetic family.
If humankind was created as a family, then we have to witness to our interdependence through solidarity.  If we are all interdependent, then we have to develop those values and principles which witness to that fact, solidarity being one of the first.  We all have shared responsibility for each other and for our common heritage and our common future.   We know only too well today that we live in a world in which no one is secure where anyone is insecure.  We are all one family.  The fate of any single member of that family is of concern to all of us and influences any other member.  We do not live just for ourselves.  We cannot ignore the fate of any of our brothers and sisters.
Humankind is also family in another sense.  We are family also in an intergenerational sense.  Human history flows from generation to generation.  Life, genetic identity, values, traditions, culture and faith are all transmitted from generation to generation and are all received anew by each new generation.  Passing on life, in the fullest sense of the word, is an essential dimension of human experience, of being human.  Generations die, but generations take up what has been transmitted to them.  Generations die, but they transmit what has been most precious to them to see it flourish in a new way, in a new generation.
Organ donation is a contemporary expression of this passing on to a new generation of that which is most precious to us.  Donation is not simply passing on an organ; it is a way of passing on life, seeing life flourish in a new generation, in a different person. For the one who receives the organ, that act of donation is an act life-giving in the fullest sense.  For the donor, even though donation occurs in death, it is a significant gesture of that fundamental human experience of transmitting life one generation further.


Donation is passing on life through enabling someone to remain living, but who is radically changed by that act of giving.  They are changed not just in the sense of being able to survive, but through the realisation that all life is gift.


When we realise that all life is gift we are changed persons. Life is not mine.  We do not live just for ourselves alone.  Life has a purpose which goes on beyond our self realisation. If life is a gift, then it must be lived in an attitude of giving.


Organ donation is an act of love to the other, not to a predetermined specific other.  Organ donation is that special generosity of a love which is not calculated in every detail.  The act of love is to a person as yet unknown. It is act of love towards life, that life which passes from generation to generation.  Donation is an act of faith in life, an act of hope in life and a better future, and act of love for life.  

Organ transplantation is a remarkable fruit of modern scientific progress, a progress focussed at being at the service of life.  We should be grateful for all that has been achieved in this area.


Organ transplantation is a product of scientific progress but organ donation is a product of something even more significant for the progress of humanity.  It is a product of that culture of generosity and gratuity, which is the very opposite of our consumer market-driven society, where everything has its price and you get simply what you pay for.


Organ donation represents something very different.  There is no price that could be put on the act of donation, yet that gratuitous act of donation does so much, for so many people, that no price could ever repay it.  Organ donation is above all a sign for all of what life is truly about.  That is why all of us have reason to be grateful to donors, not just those who have received organs.


We have reason to be grateful to donors because they have shown us that even in death, we can be builders of that love which survives from generation to generation and which is the sole building block of a world worthy of a humankind created as a family, and which is passed on from generation to generation.


We pray for all those who have witnessed to that message, which is that taught to us by Jesus in the Gospel reading we have just heard.  Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.  It is through following him, who revealed to us the gratuitous love of God, that we come to the Father and find that special place which God has reserved for those who received the gift of life and lived it out that life in love, in self-giving, right until the last moment of their lives.