Homily: Divine Will Conference Mass - Australia Day, 2018

Australia Day, 2018
Holy Rosary Church, White Hills

Is 32 15-18 1Cor 12 4-11 Matt 5 2-12

St Paul deals with the issue of spiritual gifts in our second reading today. Rather than celebrating one another’s gifts, the Corinthian Christians have become prideful concerning their particular gifts and dismissive of the gifts of others. The lesson for ourselves is that we need to remember that these spiritual gifts are really that—gifts. They come to us by the grace of God rather than by personal achievement. If we keep that in mind, it will give us a humble spirit.

As human beings we yearn for peace, justice, mercy, integrity, and yet, they are expressed in the Old Testament reading in a context of the absence of these profoundly human virtues. This paradox is expressed throughout the first reading where we hear: ‘The wilderness to be fertile land.’ and ‘In the wilderness, justice will come to live.’ ‘Integrity will bring peace.’ And then we have for our Gospel today, St Matthew’s writing of the Beatitudes. These are attitudes of being followers of Jesus.

It is always a joyful experience for us to read and reflect on the Beatitudes! Jesus proclaimed them in his first great sermon, whilst preaching on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. However, as there was a very large crowd, Jesus went up on the mountain to teach his disciples and so to give them his new Law. It is a law of the heart, based not on fear or prohibitions, but on a heart wide open, ready to embrace the paradoxes of life, and live it to the full. It is based on a call to happiness and blessedness. We can best understand the Beatitudes by contemplating Jesus and the way he lived, openly and courageously.

That is why the beatitudes have become known as ‘the Sermon on the Mount’. In the Scritpure, the mountain is regarded as a place where God reveals himself. Jesus, by preaching on the mount, reveals himself to be a divine teacher, a new Moses. What does he tell us? He shows us the way to life, the way that he himself has taken. Jesus himself is the way, and he proposes this way as the path to true happiness. Throughout his life, from his birth in the stable in Bethlehem until his death on the cross and his resurrection, Jesus embodied the Beatitudes. All the promises of God’s Kingdom were fulfilled in him.

In proclaiming the Beatitudes, Jesus asks us to follow him and to travel with him along the path of love; the path that alone leads to eternal life. It is not an easy journey, yet the Lord promises us his grace and he never abandons us. We face so many challenges in life: poverty, distress, humiliation, the struggle for justice, the difficulty of daily conversion, the effort to remain faithful to our call to holiness, and many others. But if we open the door to Jesus and allow him to be part of our lives, if we share our joys and sorrows with him, then we will experience the peace and joy that only God, who is infinite love, can give.

The Beatitudes present a model of happiness contrary to what is usually communicated by the media and by the secular wisdom. They show us what is in the heart of Jesus, what he considered to be signs of God's kingdom. Remembering Luisa Piccarreta, we pray today that our eyes may be blessed to recognise how the Divine Will may be honoured, and the kingdom of God recognized around and about us.

Today, we especially recall the life of Luisa Piccarreta who, in particular, yearned to live in the Divine Will for the Kingdom of God. We know that she began receiving revelations at age 12 and was called by God to become a ‘victim soul’. At a very tender age God spoke to her about a gift he wished to bestow upon the world that will set it free and inaugurate an Era of World Peace. God referred to this gift as ‘Living in the Divine Will’ and what we know of Luisa’s life, verifies that she certainly did that.

In fact, Luisa Piccarreta lived a holy life of prayer and suffering, attested to by her contemporaries and with a fame of holiness to this day. She was always obedient and submissive to the Church. From 1884 until her death in 1947 she was under the care of confessors appointed by her bishop. On this basis the Archbishop of Trani, with the permission of the Holy See, opened her Cause for Beatification in 1994. And unfortunately there is no update, as at of the end of 2017 the status of the Cause remains the same as in recent years, and I guess we all know that these causes take time.

So let us be aware that each of the ‘blesseds’ from this Sermon on the Mount, is a statement about something important in our Christian life. Each is an ideal of how to live and how to find God close to us.

Often compared with the Ten Commandments, we need to remember however, that the Beatitudes are something quite different - they are blessings or gifts offered by God. They are not to be "observed" as commandments are, but desired and nurtured in prayer. It is in prayer that their strangely paradoxical meanings reveal themselves. So ponder them slowly and see if they resonate with your own life experiences. Do you have a favourite among the Beatitudes, one that touches you deeply?

They can be understood rightly in the life and example of Jesus, who lived simply, showed mercy and compassion and hungered for the Father’s will. We who share his life are called to proclaim his Gospel.

May God who has shown you his salvation guide you to the inheritance he has promised.


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