Airport Church 50th Anniversary

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Trinity Sunday 2014

50th ANNIVERSARY OF THE OPENING OF THE CHURCH OF OUR LADY QUEEN OF HEAVEN, DUBLIN AIRPORT

Homily notes of Most Rev. Diarmuid Martin Archbishop of Dublin.

Church of Our Lady, Queen of Heaven, Dublin Airport, 15th June 2014

“We celebrate the Feast of the Blessed Trinity.  The Trinity is one of the most basic teachings of the Church.  One of the first prayers each of us learned at home was making the Sign of the Cross, in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. All the creeds – the fundamental professions of our faith – are also set out in the framework of our belief in God- Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Yet we do not often speak about the Blessed Trinity.  It is presented as a mystery.  But mystery does not mean a puzzle which we will never really understand.  Mystery is something that we enter into and come to understand though entering ever more deeply into the mystery.  The mystery of the Blessed Trinity is a mystery about a relationship and relationships cannot be described in mathematical graphs.  Relationships are dynamic not just analytical. Relationships are always something lived. 

The readings chosen for today’s liturgy centre on the Blessed Trinity in a very different way. They stress the love of God, which is at the root of the entire Trinity.  God is not isolated; God communicates and God communicates because he is love.  

God revealed himself out of love for us:  if God is love then revelation, making the life of God known, is of God’s essence.  God’s relationship with humankind is a relationship which reaches out to us, invites us, supports us and sustains us in love.

Where does God communicate with us?  We often forget that God revealed himself first of all in creation and beauty.  Creation is the fruit of and the expression of God’s love and must be maintained in its integrity in a spirit of love and not just be used or exploited or simply to be neglected just as pleases us.  Similarly, we express our faith through the creation of beauty.

God reveals himself in all of creation, but within that creation he reveals himself in a special way in the creation of humankind.  We are created in God’s image.  We are created in love and therefore we realise our humanity through responding to God in love.   Our call as Christians is always a call to love and a call to establish relationship of love within the human family.  Christians who believe in a God of love are called to be in the forefront in their communities in fostering relationships of care and solidarity and especially in rejecting the climate of violence which all too often in recent times has mired our city, as yesterday when a six year old child was shot. 

But the greatest revelation of God’s love comes to us in Jesus himself. Jesus, the Christ, is the definitive revelation of God’s love; he shows us truly what God’s love is like.   Jesus came to give himself out of love and he reveals his love in the most radical manner by giving his life for us so that we can pass from our sinfulness into new life. 

This afternoon we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the opening of this Airport Church.  I am especially happy to be here as I was actually at the opening, as a very young seminarian who assisted at the Mass of Archbishop McQuaid. 

There are many reasons to celebrate.  This is a beautiful Church and I regard it as a unique architectural creation. I have already spoken of the creation of beauty can be a true expression of faith in God and a sharing in God’s creative design.   

We celebrate because the idea of the architect has been realised: realised in the sense that the complex has become a place where men and women working in the Airport or travelling though are able to come aside from the hustle and bustle of work and life and anxiety, and walk though the calm of the courtyard into the quiet and peaceful and prayerful atmosphere of the Church.

We remember all those who contributed to building the Church.  It is a Church which was built and has been supported through the contributions of the airport community.  We remember those who ministered here.  We remember those who gathered here at times of tragedy and mourning.  We remember those who found encouragement and support in prayer in special moments in their lives of joy and of sorrow.

The Church is also a symbol of how community can be built in the midst of a busy and often fragmented world: community where God’s love is lived out.  God’s love surprises us.  In our first reading we look back at a critical moment in which the Jewish people had rebelled against Moses and against God, just as Moses was returning from the mountain where he had encountered God.  The people had become impatient and they had created their own god in the form of a golden calf.  God speaks to Moses and invites him to return to the mountain and to receive again the stone tablets of testimony written by the finger of God.  How does God react to this infidelity of his people?  Does he promise fire and brimstone?  No:  he introduces himself to Moses as “A God of tenderness and compassion, slow to anger, rich in kindness and faithfulness”

We have all too often make gods of our own.  We turn the God of tenderness and compassion into a God who sets out abstract rules which are applied with the harshness of our idea of justice.  God is not like that. The God revealed in Jesus Christ responds to our unfaithfulness through remaining faithful.  He is always there for us no matter how far we have strayed.

The Gospel takes up the same theme.    God loves us.  He loves us so much so he that he “sent his son so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost, but have eternal life”.

We have to ask ourselves how does a faith, in which love and mercy are so central, often end up with a Church and many of her institutions being harsh and judgemental. How did we so often create a judgemental and harsh God in the place of the God revealed in Jesus Christ, one who came to show mercy and healing, renewal and liberation?

 

We have to ask ourselves as a Christian community how we can today increasingly become a community of care and solidarity, even in the anonymity of the world of a busy airport. We look especially to our young people and challenge them to be more directly involved in community building.

 

This is a remarkable building which I am happy – I must say – has been able to survive many attempts to remove it.  We live in a world in which the functional tends to take precedence over everything else.  I encourage you to do everything you can to maintain this Church as one of the more unique and beautiful aspects of this airport complex.   It is a little oasis of silence and contemplation in a world that it so busy with functionality that it finds it hard time to think about the deeper things, the things that give meaning and hope and dignity to people and their lives. ENDS 

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