THIRTEENTH SUNDAY OF THE YEAR 2018
Homily notes of Most Rev. Diarmuid Martin Archbishop of Dublin
Church of Saint Therese, Mount Merrion, 30th June 2018
I wished to come here to Mount Merrion this evening to reflect with you on events that have taken place over the past week and to celebrate Mass with you.
The Mass is the great moment in the life of any Christian community in which people are united through the reconciling power of Jesus Christ. The Eucharistic community is a unique place where differences can be lived in a reconciled context through our communion with Christ and with one another.
We begin by asking that the reconciling power of Jesus Christ be among us, as we ask – each one of us – for forgiveness and healing.
As I said at the beginning of Mass, I wished to come to Mount Merrion this evening to reflect with you on events of the past week. In the first place, I would like to apologise for the fact that the priest who was designated to celebrate the Mass on last Saturday failed to turn up. This was not a planned event, but an unfortunate mistake, but a mistake that should not have happened.
May I make one comment. If you read my statement carefully, I never said that it was inappropriate in such a situation for the community to gather in prayer. It was indeed praiseworthy. Neither did I say that in such a situation the prayer ought not to be led by a woman. This is something that happens in such situations elsewhere.
The situation was not due to the fact of a shortage of priests. A priest had been designated. My concern was that such a situation that was unplanned should have been escalated into something else.
I recognise that there are differences and different sensitivities in this and in every community. Indeed, divisions and misunderstandings have marked the history of the Church, from its earliest days. On many occasions, such divisions and disagreements were due to a desire to remain with positions of personal comfort rather than allow the radical nature of the teaching of Jesus to break into and to change hearts.
However, we have to find ways in which divisions can be addressed within the Christian community in ways that are typical of the Christian community, through dialogue, through mutual respect and where Christian charity always prevails.
Divisions must be addressed and the message of Jesus demands a radical leap out of conformity. Let us look at the Gospel of today. We have two examples.
The first is the man Jairus, a synagogue official. He was a man who had an official role within the believing community. He would normally have been expected to have maintained distance and suspicion indeed even hostility towards Jesus. Yet he realised that there were certain things that were more important to him and to Jesus than the narrow norms and customs of the day. For Jairus, Jesus was the one who could heal and bring life. For Jesus, healing and restoring life were more important than narrow norms and customs.
Then there is the woman who had suffered from the haemorrhage for many years. This woman was considered unclean. She would have been ostracised and it would have been difficult for her to appear in public. Within a society that tried to keep her out of view, she saw one hope: Jesus. She had only heard of Jesus and yet her faith gave her the courage to approach him. She touches just the hem of his garment and is instantly cured.
What does Jesus do? He stops and asks who it was that had touched him. The woman would have violated the norms and customs by touching him. Jesus himself, according to those same customs, had become impure because he had been touched by impurity.
Jesus does not criticise the woman nor does he confirm the norms that had been established. He assures the woman that she has been healed and should now go and live in peace.
Jesus heals. He tells those who have witnessed his healing that they are not to talk about it. His desire in healing is to restore the dignity and the everyday life of the person healed: the woman should live now in peace and the child who was cured should simply be given something to eat.
The Church of Jesus Christ is a Church of communion. One of the characteristics of the Church of the future in Dublin will be that of different ministries working together for the mission of the Church in a changed culture. This is something that I have constantly encouraged.
Jesus is the one who purifies, who heals and who sanctifies. There will be divisions within the Church but these divisions should not lead to hurt and damage to the unity of the Christin community. Last Sunday I celebrated Mass in the neighbouring parish of Kilmacud at a Mass at which anyone who attended was deeply moved. It was a celebration of Christian care and of how powerful the unity of a believing community can be.
The God revealed in Jesus Christ is not a distant judge but the hand held out to rise us up when we fall to be fully the men and women we are created in God’s own image.
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.