Golden Jubilee Bonnybrook

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Twenty-fifth Sunday of the Year 2019



Homily notes of

Most Rev. Diarmuid Martin

Archbishop of Dublin


Saint Joseph the Artisan, Bonnybrook, 22 September 2019

For some reason the Liturgy experts who worked on the scripture texts for the Sundays of the year cut short the Gospel reading we have just heard.  The verse in Saint Luke’s Gospel that immediately follows the reading we heard is a sort of commentaryon our reading. It says, “The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all of this and they ridiculed him”.

The Pharisees had been following Jesus closely.  They would have heard him teach the parables of God’s mercy that we heard last Sunday:  the parable of the lost sheep that Jesus goes out of his way to retrieve, the parable of the lost coin and the rejoicingat when it was found, and the parable of the prodigal son whose father was just waiting to welcome him home.

The Pharisees are unhappy because they do not understand Jesus.  They are critical of him becausehe sits and eats with sinners.  They have their own understanding of what God should be like.  Theybelieve that their rules and regulations reflects what God wants.  Anyone who does not follow their rules is a sinner full stop.  

Jesus understanding is different:  he comes to reach out in mercy to all who are lost or troubled or who have headed out on the wrong path in life.  He rejoices when sinners repent and he is there to embrace them and help them.

Jesus logic is attractive but it is not an easy option.  It is not a soft message. It is not a sentimental logic.  It challenges many of the ways we think even today.

What is the logic of today’s Gospel. A managerwho finds himself in trouble acts smartly.  He calls all those who are indebted to his employer and makes them debtors to himself.  In this way, cleverly even if he is sacked, he has made friends who will somehow support him.  He uses falsehood and injustice to save himself and feels that he is the wise one.  

Yet Jesus seems to praise this man.  What is Jesus saying?  He is telling us that we have to beequally determined in using the things at our disposalin order to use them as God wants us to do.   Just as the unjust servant uses his money dishonestly to gainfriendship, the believers in Jesus are to useeverything they have not to build up a self-centred world, but to become a source of communion and friendship and caring. God’s gifts are for the use of all. Following Jesus requires that we be determined and not half-hearted or simply passive.

We can use the things of the world in such a way that they become an idol, a sort of false god howtricks and entraps and dominates us. We think that we are being empowered but we lose our freedom.

We can use the things of the world in another way so that our lives become a witness to the message of Jesus who uses his power above all to reach out and heal and bring back to communion all those who have become marginalised.  

Not only do the Pharisees fail to understand this, they even ridicule him.  Jesus message is challenging and is always contra cultural. There are many who today ridicule belief.  Belief does not meet with agreement or meets agreement in some sort of superficial way that does not change hearts.  Belief inJesus requires real endurance.

Today we celebrate the Golden Jubilee of this Church.  We do not simply celebrate a historical dayfifty years ago.  We do not celebrate bricks and mortar.  We celebrate fifty years where day after day a faith community has been built up around this Church as a faith community that cares and reaches out as Jesus asks us.

When I spoke at the rededication of this Churchlast March, I noted that, “It was the families of this parish who, fifty years ago, turned newly built housing estates into a community that despite many difficulties has been a source of life and light and support for generations”.

Certainly fifty years ago this was not a wealthyparish.  People had many challenges as they movedinto a new area.  Money and resources were tight.  Yet this community with limited wealth and resources built up something that has endured and continues to endure and must be made endure in the years to come.

Young people are exposed to all sorts of challenges and false dreams.  Yet you know that fundamentally our young people are good and perhaps more idealistic than our generation.  Wehave very reason to be proud of them.

I am particularly concerned at the growing problem in our city of drug and substance abuse among young people, even very young people.  Our society is alarmed at the horror of shootings among those involved in drug feuds. It is truly a horror story of violence and retaliation.   Too rarely, however, do we stress that the business of drug dealers is itself a scandalous business of death.  It is a business that kills and destroys lives and has no respect for the fragility of young people and particularly of fragile children.  We have to do everything we can to help our young people to be drug free full stop.

Today we celebrate our diocesan “Safeguarding Sunday”.  I am acutely aware of the fact that the people of this parish were let down by the diocese through the mismanagement of the abuse scandal.  I know that many hearts are still wounded.  I am encouraged however to see how the parish has responded through thorough safeguardingprocedure’s and I genuinely thank all those who have worked to make this community safer for all children.

Bonnybrook is a great parish.  I thank all those who day after day contribute to making this parish a community that reflects the Jesus who cares and who challenges us to regard material achievement as a resource to construct a community of hope for the future.