First Sunday of Advent 2010
GOLDEN JUBILEE OF THE CHURCH OF SAINT PIUS X
Homily Notes of
Most Rev. Diarmuid Martin
Archbishop of Dublin, Primate of Ireland
Church of Saint Pius X, Templeogue, 27th November 2010
Our anniversary Mass takes place as we begin the new liturgical year, as we begin the Season of Advent. This evening, at our Jubilee Mass, we look back at and we celebrate fifty years of extraordinary life and ministry in this parish.
Our advent celebration focuses our reflections more on the future, as we begin our reflection on Christ’s coming into our world. The Christian message is always a forward-looking one, a message of joyful hope as we await the coming of Jesus, a joy and a hope that are symbolised especially in the message of Christmas.
The Christian life is always a forward-looking one. We live in the expectation that that Christ will come again. That expectation should be the inspiration of our lives. We know that creation will only come to its fullness when Christ comes again in glory. Our mission as Christians in the world is to anticipate that fullness through the way we live as individuals and as society, and to discern what are the fundamental choices we should be making as Christian to ensure that our world does not deviate from God’s design for his creation.
How does the message of advent help us focus better on how to prepare for Christmas? How does the message of Advent help us focus better on the fundamental thrust we should be giving to our lives and to the life of our society if we wish to be witness to what Christ’s coming means?
Advent, is a period of waiting, of longing, of anticipation and preparation and of rejoicing that “the Lord is coming”, that “the Lord is near”; it encourages us to look to the future as a future of hope and there is no doubt that we need hope today, as individuals, as families, as communities and indeed as a nation.
Advent is a season of hope as we reflect on the meaning of the coming of God into human history. We should be thinking as did the Old Testament prophets did as they looked forward to the coming of the Saviour. They were sensitive to the experience of injustice and sin under which they lived and looked towards the coming of “the anointed one”, as one whose coming will bring the newness of peace and justice and righteousness.
During Advent, as did the Old Testament Prophets, we think of the injustice, the evil, the violence, the self-centeredness that exists in our time and we pray that Jesus’ coming will be a moment of deliverance. We look forward to Jesus’ coming as a moment when Jesus will break once again into human history to change it, to save it, to unite it with him. We remember those who live under the burdens of poverty, suffering and anxiety and we pray that for them Jesus’ coming will also be a moment of deliverance and new hope.
It was the perennial seeking for hope that is in our hearts which permitted the Prophet Isaiah to dream the dream that we heard of in the first reading, with those beautiful words: “One nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again. They shall beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks”.
The Christian of every generation is called to be awake and attentive to where society is slipping into wrong ways and to cry out like the prophet to return to the ways of God. In our days nations sadly still raise weaponry against others. In our own city how often do we read sadly about knives being raised in violence and guns in vengeance and lives – young lives – being ruined?
Advent is a moment in which we should interrupt our daily life and think about what is essential. We too often live like those mentioned in the Gospel who we carried on with their daily activities, important as they were, without reflecting on the wider consequences of their way of life.
As the Old Testament Prophets did, we Christians today must also cry out against what destroys those fundamental relationships of peace and honesty, of generosity and solidarity and inclusion which are the foundations for a hopeful society.
I have already in these days spoken about my concern that a political climate of anger about the past and anxiety of the future might easily lead to a totally negative climate in political life, to a climate where everyone is only “against”. If we want to move towards a different future we also and perhaps above all need a politics “for”. We need not just negativity, but also a renewed sense of national purpose.
The basis of that national purpose must be solidarity. Solidarity is incumbent on us all. This does not mean however, that solidarity can be dished out across the board in equal-sized portions, as a common percentage of cuts or additional revenue. Solidarity is the art of measuring in proportion to specific needs; it involves that special ability to read the needs of the times through a lense which focuses on the vulnerable.
There is also solidarity in purpose. This is the opposite of a situation in which everyone seems pitched against the other or where people are left alone in their anger and frustration in the shifting sands of uncertainty when certainty and purpose are what are called for.
Solidarity, finally, is not just about national policy. It is about how we personally interact with each other. The Christian community should be a model of solidarity, a model in which we share not just financial resources but also our own talents and abilities and our basic humanity and love.
This evening we celebrate 50 years of community which emerged from and was built around this Parish Church of Saint Pius X. There is a sense in which 50 years ago the boundaries of this parish were simply carved out on the map of a growing new suburb. This community was never a village; it does not have an earlier historical tradition. Boundaries may well have been established in an anonymous manner, but then community sprung up, was nurtured and came to maturity through the work of the new parish and of successive generations of parishioners. A sense of identity was established; a pattern of care and support developed.
Young families were happy to belong to a community where their children could grow up proud in the values of integrity and caring. This is a parish of which today the parishioners, young and old, are proud. I congratulate all those who are committed to the renovation of the Church. I congratulate all those who look to the future of this parish community and who dedicate their time to building community at a moment when many are tempted to retreat into individualism.
I welcome the many priests who have ministered in this parish over these fifty years who are here with us this evening. I greet the current team: Father Aquinas Duffy and Father Karl Fortune. Along with them I greet those men and women who have contributed in so many ways to the ministry of the parish. We remember how this parish touched the lives of so many individuals at vital moments of their lives. We are conscious of how many have been led on the path of faith in Jesus Christ and through that faith have gone out into society with a new motivation of Christian care.
We look back on this Church as a house of prayer, where people came on their own with the aspirations and hopes and in moments of desolation or despair. In the homes and families of central Europe, the advent wreath has for generations been a common symbol and it is becoming more and more known among us. It reminds us that the darkness of the world can slowly be enlightened as week by week we anticipate the coming of Jesus. The darkness of our own lives too can be exposed to the light of Christ as we journey forward awaiting his coming.
Advent is not strictly a time of penance and fasting as is Lent. It is marked more rather by a growing sense of joyfulness for the fact that Jesus is coming and that his coming is near and that we must be ready to answer to the Lord when he comes, today and in the troubled future of our world.