Third Sunday of Advent 2013
60TH ANNIVERSARY MASS OF THE CHURCH OF THE MOST PRECIOUS BLOOD, CABRA WEST
Homily notes of Most Rev. Diarmuid Martin Archbishop of Dublin
Church of the Most Precious Blood, Cabra, 15th December 2013
“The Gospel of this morning’s Mass recalls once again that great figure John the Baptist. John’s task was to announce the coming of Jesus. He was called to reawaken a sense of expectation among a people that had grown tired and distant from God. He was called to bring renewal to institutional expressions of religion which, at the time, had often become fossilised into mere formulae or external ritual. John the Baptist is indeed a figure who can well inspire the Church today in its efforts at New Evangelization, as we too try to reawaken a renewed sense of faith in a Church which is often tempted by tiredness and routine.
This morning we celebrate the renewal that is taking place in this parish. Every time I come to this Church I see that some change has taken place. This morning we see renewal in the blessing of the new baptismal font, in the baptism of a new Christian, in the presence of the children and parents of the “Do this in memory” programme, in the presentation of the John Paul Ii awards to young people. Arriving here this morning I saw the exhibition which the Parish Pastoral Council has prepared in the “Credo space” and I congratulate them. I spoke about how the Church can be tempted by tiredness and routine: that is certainly not the case in this parish, as all these initiatives show.
This celebration of renewal takes place as we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the opening of the Church. We look back over the history of this parish and at the great families that have lived here, at the great schools of the parish, at the priests and religious who have served here and all those who have made this Church a true centre of community life over sixty years. We look back with gratitude, but above all we look ahead, we look forward and we pledge that we will do everything in our power to give the young people of this parish a fulfilling future, just as over the past sixty years parents and families here in Cabra West have done so for their children and grandchildren in harder times.
The Church is there to proclaim and live out the message of Jesus. It is not there in any way just to be inward-looking and self-protecting, as Pope Francis continually stresses. Renewal in the Church does not mean fitting in with the fashions of the day, just as it does not mean a Church closed in on itself. Christians must reach out with the authenticity and the vigour of John the Baptist to see that the message of Jesus is mad known to all. The Church in every age is called to be like John the Baptist, an uncomfortable reminder of how we must repent and allow the truth of Jesus to break into and enlighten the darkness that can subtly find its way into our lives or the life of the Church if we are not attentive. Renewal in the Church means tearing ourselves away from conventional expectations, attitudes and superficialities.
The message of Jesus Christ is a message of hope and thus the Church’s message must be a message of hope and courage. That is the message of the first and second readings: The prophet Isaiah wrote “Do not be afraid, look your God is coming”; and Saint James wrote: “Do not loose heart, because the Lord’s coming will be soon”. We must be believers who come to know Jesus ever more deeply and who go out into daily life witnessing to what Jesus means to us, especially so that our young people can come to belief.
Life is not easy for young people today. One of the great social challenges of our country and of Western Europe today is the serious problem of youth unemployment. It is estimated that the rate of youth unemployment in Ireland is almost 30%. In some other European countries it is indeed higher. I believe that the challenge of youth unemployment should become a priority policy in the immediate future. Bailouts can come and go, but our future is in our young people and we are failing them. Work opens out hope. Young people who for years are unable to attain employment easily begin to give up hope and feel that their personal value and their contribution to society are somehow disregarded. Ireland needs a crusade for the creation of sustainable youth employment as an immediate post-bail-out social goal.
Life is not easy for young people and belief is not easy for young people. But we must remember that the Christian message has the ability to fascinate and challenge in every age. Our young people need to hear Christ’s message in its clarity and in all its demands. I encourage parents to keep with their children in the “Do this in memory” programme. I encourage the winners of the John Paul II awards to continue in your commitment. I firmly believe that if we bring the challenge of following Jesus Christ to young people they will not fail us in the generosity of their response. We need to help young people to see that the true foundation of meaning and hope in their lives comes in the message of Jesus.
John the Baptist indicates who Jesus is: “He is the one”. As we prepare for Christmas each of us should be asking ourselves just what Jesus represents for us in our lives and asking where we need to convert and turn the direction of our lives towards him, who comes in all humility at Christmas. Faith is not just about formulae or external ritual. It is about authentically entering into the very life of Jesus Christ himself and witnessing to that life in our daily lives.” ENDS