Twenty Second Sunday 2019
MASS TO REMEMBER DECEASED MEMBERS OF THE WOMEN’S FORUM
Homily notes of
Most Rev. Diarmuid Martin
Archbishop of Dublin
Pro-Cathedral, 31st August 2019
“Jesus had the amazing ability to illustrate the action of God through the observation of simple and very ordinary human behaviour.
He had powers of observation and anability to see and hear events, and then to hear and see through these same events. Jesus could do this even in abnormal situations like the one that is referred to in today’s Gospelreading.
Jesus eats with a group of Pharisees and Pharisees would generally not have beenconsidered his fans. Jesus observes their behaviour and is critical. He does not confront them with a set of rules and condemnations that he would impose. Thosewhom he addresses condemn themselves by their own actions.
Jesus observes how the Pharisees love to choose the places of honour wherever they go. Jesus reflects on that. However, he reflects not just to judge his table companions. He draws the conclusions for us. The conclusions are not just moral judgement but tell us something about who God is and what being a follower of Jesus involves.
Jesus is the one who is meek and humble of heart. He received the name that is above every name “through making himself humble and becoming obedient even until death of a cross”
Already the Magnificat reminds us of the action of God in human history. Our God is the one who “scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart. He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and has exalted the lowly”.
Jesus is telling us that the disciples of the Jesus who is humble must follow the same logic. They must banish from their hearts and from their behaviour thoughts and attitudesjust of personal prestige and superiority. They should not look for worldly reward. The Beatitudes remind us that that the only recompense we should aim at is communionwith God in his kingdom.
The logic of the kingdom of God is summed up in the rule that the one who humbles himself is the one who will be exalted. The logic of the kingdom involves a great reversal of superficial values.
It should not be forgotten that at the timeof Jesus many who gave large banquets did so in such a manner that the poor and the hungrycould be there on the margins and get some remnants of the food of the main banquet. The revolution proposed in the thought of Jesus is not just saying that the poor should be invited. It is saying that the poor be invited not in addition to the usual guests, but insteadof them. That is the revolution of the kingdom.
There are lessons here for our Church and our society today. Our wealthy society has in its midst so many condemned to sit on the margins of what that wealth might be able achieve. The poor are left to eke out survival,only through what is left over after we thrive. Indeed while the poor hunger, our wealthy society throws away huge amounts of food. Our wealthy society is a society marked by waste.
Part of our Christian witness must be to foster a life style where the poor and the troubled and the disadvantaged are enabled to feel that their intrinsic worth is recognised and embraced and enhanced by all and where resources are shared.
Sadly, we live in a society where inequalities grow and new forms of marginalization are constantly emerging. Today there are groups of young people who through illness are deprived of the ability to realise their talents by the lack of access the special education service they require. How can our wealthy society be so slow inaddressing the challenge of homelessnessespecially of children?
New expressions of inequality occur on our on doorstep and they appear on worldwidelevel. Today the Church around the world celebrates the Day of Prayer for Creation. The fundamental message of the Churchabout creation is that the goods of this earthare given for the benefit of all. We live in a society in which people appropriate for themselves gargantuan levels of wealth at times taking advantage of the very little that the poor possess and need. Misuse of thegoods of creation and the selfish use of those goods damage what is the common home andthe common property of all and at times threaten the livelihood and indeed the life of others.
The worldwide traffic in drugs is a horrific example of the exploitation of the vulnerable. We witness the cold and unscrupulous exploitation and the violence of the leaders of this traffic of death but we too rarely set out in black and white the horrors of that traffic of death especially among young people. We decry the murders among drug gangs, but their numbers are tiny in confront with the deaths their trade provoke among young and vulnerable people. Young people gather for entertainment and never return home because they are tempted into a network of unscrupulous suppliers of extremely dangerous drugs.
At this Mass, we remember those womenwho were associated with the Dublin Diocesan Women’s Forum and who have died in these years. The Women’s Forum, despite the generosity and commitment of its members,did not attain the role that was envisaged by Cardinal Connell when he launched it. This is not to say that there has not been progress in the active presence of women in Church structures and Church life. I must take my level of responsibility in not bringing sufficient new vigour to the aims of the Forum. Might I suggest to those of you who were members of the Forum that we could together take a renewed look at the ways in which women can contribute effectively to the renewal of the Church today, especially in being a Church alongside the poor.
The message of Jesus and his kingdominvolves a real reversal of many of the values that underpin our lives and our society. All of us must learn how much of what we posit as first on our values list, really belong much lower on the value list of the kingdom. The message of Jesus can challenge us to discern truly what belongs truly first and last in our own behaviour.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not a burden but something that makes us free. The call to follow Jesus is a call that requires renunciation of self but renunciation that leads then to a fuller realisation of self in a new way. It is in losing our life that we discover life in its depth.