Feast of Saints Peter and Paul 2017
MASS WITH THE BRAZILIAN CATHOLIC COMMUNITY
Homily notes of
Most Rev. Diarmuid Martin
Archbishop of Dublin
Capuchin Friary, Church Street, 2nd July 2017
It is a real pleasure for me to be able to celebrate Mass this afternoon with you the Members of the Brazilian Catholic Community in Dublin and in Ireland.
Only a few days ago I celebrated a wedding in Assisi in a Capuchin Church served by Brazilian priests and Sisters. They were so pleased to hear that I would be celebrating Mass today with you and they send you their greetings and would be delighted if some time you might go on pilgrimage to them at the City of Saint Francis. That meeting was a coincidence that made me think of what unites Brazilian Catholic communities far from home and scattered today in every corner of the world.
My first visit to Brazil was 25 years ago when I attended a large United Nations Conference as a Vatican Delegate. Many of the delegates from almost 200 countries who attended the Conference spoke about the elegant luxury hotels they were staying in along the seafront at Copacabana.
We delegates from the Vatican were in a better position. We did not stay in a hotel but found ourselves made very much at home in a parish, that of Nossa Senhora de Copacabana, a remarkable parish where we could share in the life of the local Church. It was a parish that had place for everyone, young and old, rich and poor. It had a centre to receive victims of HIV/AIDS and a range of social and educational services and wonderful liturgies.
Copacabana is a famous tourist spot. Alongside the luxury and consumerism there were many social problems barely hidden, there was much anonymity and loneliness and the parish was a beacon of light and a place of real welcome and true community.
For us believing Christians, the Church is the family of Jesus Christ. The Church must everywhere be a place of welcome and community. I hope that the regular celebration of Mass here in this Church is for each of you an opportunity to keep your faith in Jesus Christ strong and to maintain some sense of friendship and bond with your homeland and your traditions.
That special bond of community that is a mark of the Church finds its inspiration in the person and the teaching of Jesus Christ. The question that in the Gospel reading that Jesus put to his disciples is still actual and important: “Who do people say that the Son of man is?” “Who is Jesus for us today?” We see from the answers that the disciples did not fully recognise Jesus. They thought of him rightly as belonging to the great tradition of the prophets like John the Baptist, Elijah or Jeremiah.
Today many ask the same question: “Who is Jesus”. They are not always able to recognise Jesus in their lives. We, as a believing community, must be true witness to Jesus and help others to move to understand Jesus as someone who cares and who is there when we fail, not as a distant or uncaring judge, but as the one who helps us to stand again and be fully ourselves. We are all called, as Pope Francis stresses, to be missionary disciples of Jesus.
Saints Peter and Paul were called by Jesus to be fundamental pillars of his Church. They were not likely candidates for that mission. Peter denied Jesus; Paul had persecuted Christians. Despite our own limitations, we too are called to be missionary disciples in the Church. We are called to be disciples following the pattern of Jesus who came to serve. Jesus showed that he was God through serving, through emptying himself and giving himself for us.
Through our baptism, all of us Christians are called to serve and be ministers of Christ. We are called to bring the message of Jesus to the world in which they live. Every Christian is therefore linked with the essential style of Jesus who was the Good Shepherd. The Pope, the bishops and priests are called to be shepherds of their flock in a particular way. Nevertheless, there is a sense in which all Christians are called to be shepherds. We are called to be good shepherds of the gifts that we have received. These gifts were given to us to build up the Church in love and to be a Church of love.
The Church of Jesus Christ must always be a caring Church, a Church that guides people gently along the right path, which gives them hope in moments of darkness, which enriches their joy in being good people.
The shepherd in biblical times led his sheep by calls and sounds that the sheep understood. Today the Church must witness to Jesus in sounds that people understand, in a language and in a life-style that people can understand in the reality of their own lives. That is the task of all Christians and the Brazilian Catholic community has so much to offer to the Church here in Ireland.