Dublin Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes 2017
CLOSING MASS OF THE PILGRIMAGE
Homily notes of Most Rev. Diarmuid Martin Archbishop of Dublin
Lourdes, 11th September 2017
“We have come to the closing Mass of our pilgrimage and we are called once again, by our Gospel reading, to reflect on the place of Mary in our lives, in the life of the Church and in God’s plan of salvation.
Mary is the Mother of Jesus but she is also the first disciple of Jesus. Mary teaches us what it means to be a disciple and what faith in her son entails.
Mary is the model of faith. She totally accepts the message of the angel and thus prepares what the prayer of the Mass of the first day our pilgrimage called “the dawning of salvation”.
Mary’s role in the plan of salvation is unique and her collaboration in the plan of God is unique. However, she herself realises that the birth of her son is entirely the work of God and not the fruit of human efforts.
Mary knows that the almighty has done great things to her and through her. She understands what is being worked through her humility, because she has a deep understanding of the way that God has been faithful to his people across the generations.
God is the one who cares for his people. He never fails his people even when they have been unfaithful. He shows mercy; he lifts up the lowly; he fills the hungry with good things. On the hand, he scatters the proud hearted; he brings down the mighty; and he sends the rich away empty.
This is not a social or a political platform of reform. It is not that God tells us to begin a revolution against the rich and the powerful. He is telling us something else. It is a call to all of us. He is telling us that our search for meaning and goodness and truth will not be fruitful if we take on the characteristics of the powerful and the arrogant. We will only find true meaning for life if we trust in a God who cares and become like him and become a community of believers that cares.
Mary’s first gesture after she realises the great things that God has done to her is to set out and take on the long journey to help her cousin Elizabeth and to rejoice with her for what God had done for her.
In our lives, we must learn to rejoice when others do well. We are called to bring joy to those who need our support because of the burdens they bear. We are called to refute any temptation to arrogance on our part and to realise that God will never be found amid human arrogance.
God’s caring power has been with us in these days in Lourdes. The sick have felt God’s care through the work of our helpers. The helpers have found something deep in their hearts through their encounters with the sick. The deaf have communicated and felt welcome. Our young helpers have reminded us of the goodness that is present in our younger generation and our younger generation have learned that there are deeper values in life, which they must continue to develop in their hearts.
Now we must bring back home with us something of spirit of Lourdes into the everyday realities of life as individuals and as a society. Believers have an essential contribution to bring to society today and to the future, especially in bringing support to the sick and the troubled.
I am at times saddened when the work of believers and Church bodies in caring for the sick in the past are portrayed only in a negative light. Certainly Church organizations made mistakes and church representatives failed to live up to their vocation. But so many anonymous men and women religious also brought dedication and innovation in health care and society owes them a debt of gratitude.
As Christians living in a diverse society we must find new ways of keeping that Christian spirit of gratuitous of dedication alive in a society where commercial and economic values can often dominate.
I thank all those who have worked to make this pilgrimage such a success. I thank Father Martin Noone and Father Gerard Tyrrel and Geraldine Hanley for the work they do right through the year. I thank the priests who have been with us, ministering to us and journeying with us as simple pilgrims. I thank Father Damian McNiece for the inspirational liturgies and the choir directed by Sharon Lyons.
I thank the medical, staff, the nurses, the Brancardier and all those, young and old, who cared for the sick.
We set out to return home but we remain united in what we have been doing as witnesses to what the Church of Jesus Christ must be, a witness to the loving kindness of our God. We are well aware of the difficulties and challenges that the Church faces in bringing the men and women of our generation to know and recognise Jesus as the way, the truth and the life. Pray for renewal in the Church. Pray for all those who have responsibility for pastoral care within the Church, pray for parents who day by day try to pass the faith on to the next generation. Pray especially for the success of the World Meeting of Families that will be held in Dublin next August. Pray for your priests and pray for your Archbishop.
How do we renew the Church? We do so not through publicity campaigns or public relations exercises. We renew the Church through being witnesses to the loving care of our God, the God revealed in Jesus Christ who will be with his Church always. Mary, Mother of the Church, be with us on the journey of life. ENDS