1. Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time 2018
25 YEARS OF THE SALESIAN PRESENCE IN THE PARISH
OF OUR LADY OF LOURDES
Homily Notes of
Most Reverend Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin
Church of Our Lady of Lourdes, Dublin, 28 January 2018
“Father Michael Casey, in his opening words, set out well what we are celebrating here this morning. We celebrate twenty-five years of Salesian presence of care and service in this Parish. Father Michael very generously immediately mentioned the other partners who have played important roles in parish life over these years: the Daughters of Charity, the Columban Missionary Sisters, the Romanian community, as well as many others: the Schools, the health services, those fighting addiction, the Day Centre for the elderly, the Pastoral Council and other Church structures.
Can I add the names of three others who have been constantly present invisibly animating the spiritual and the human development of this community of faith and its place within a wider and diverse community?
The first is Don Bosco, the founder of the Salesians. He was a great Saint of the people. He worked within communities and especially with young people. Anywhere in the world where you find a Salesian community you find a presence among young people that is practical, caring, and forward-looking. I have visited Salesian schools in the poorest parts of the world and the Salesian presence is always one that provides practical help for young people, no matter what their belief.
The Spirit of Don Bosco is one that sets out to enable every young person to reach his or her full God-given potential as individuals and to build up a community that surrounds and helps young people. For Don Bosco, young people were never just passive objects of his attention. The aim of Don Bosco was always that of making young people, as Father Michael noted, “good citizens and good Christians”.
So many families here in this parish can thank God that even in hard times, and in the face of many negative forces, they have seen their children grow up to become good citizens and good Christians and good parents, people of whom this parish can be proud.
The second figure is Matt Talbot. Matt Talbot belongs here. He is a true Dubliner who faced the challenges of Dublin in difficult times, especially the challenge of the exploitation of workers and the damage that was done by drink and addiction. Matt was a worker, a very simple man who was able in the midst of poverty and disadvantage to be truly a man of God, a mystic, and a man of prayer. He lived a saintly life not by running way from his place of hard work and his difficult social environment. He stayed here and found holiness here. Over the years, he has touched hearts and he has answered the hidden prayers of many a parent or of individuals in heart breaking situations of addiction. His presence here is truly a blessing.
The third figure is Our Lady of Lourdes, patron of this parish. Anyone who has been to Lourdes realises that Lourdes is not just a place of healing but also a place where the sick and the troubled are cared for and given the place of honour. The atmosphere of Lourdes is the polar extreme to that of so much of our modern society where power and wealth and exploitation of others is too often looked on as the sign of who is important.
Mary is the model of a strong woman who sought out God’s will and stood by her Son Jesus when his unfailing love was responded to with rejection and when his goodness was responded to with shameful violence. Mary is the one who reminds us of how the presence of goodness will eventually overcome the arrogance of the violent. Still today, the prayer of Mary reminds all of us that those who feel that they are mighty will one day fall from their thrones and their power. Mary is the model of courage and life; those who espouse violence think that they are strong but are in the end only despicable exploiters of others.
The future of this parish and its people will be shaped not by the drug barons but by the goodness and the determination of good honest and courageous citizens, young and old, women and men, who care not for their own wealth and power, but for the safe and happy future of our younger generations.
We heard in our second reading what we should aim to pass on to the next generations. The only true way forward in life is
“filling our minds with everything that is true, everything that is noble, everything that is good and pure, everything that we love and honour and everything that can be thought virtuous and worthy of praise”.
That is where true goodness is rooted. We know that there is so much goodness of that kind present in this parish. That is what we celebrate here this morning and that is what this parish can be proud of.
The Gospel reading shows how Jesus cares for us especially by freeing people from the power of evil and from anything that weighs them down. Two phrases in the Gospel reading strike me: Jesus “teaches with authority” and Jesus “teaches with a teaching that is new”. Again, the message to us is that we cannot be just passive believers in Jesus or half-hearted in our commitment.
Jesus’ call to conversion is constant and must be kept constantly alive in our lives. Being a follower of Jesus is not like signing up to a membership of a club where once we pay our contribution we still belong whether we are active or not.
The newness of Jesus’ teaching will always be challenging. It may mean that we have to change our ways and our ways of thinking so that what we do and what our Church does and teaches reflects only that authority of Jesus and not our own way of thinking. May the Lord bless this parish and especially its young people.”