Comunidade Brasiliera Catolicos em Dublin
NOVENA IN HONOUR OF OUR LADY OF APARECIDA
Homily notes of
Most Rev. Diarmuid Martin
Archbishop of Dublin
Church of Saint Mary, Church Street, 11 October 2020
It has always been a great pleasure for me to be part of the celebrations of Brazilian Catholics in Dublin on the occasion of the Feast of Our Lady of Aparecida. I have always been moved by being able to share in the prayerful enthusiasm and the faith of young Brazilians living here in Ireland. This year things are different. We gather on–line, challenged by living with the Covid Virus and our common efforts to block the current spike.
My prayers go out to each of you, especially those who live with many unknowns regarding your employment stability. We join in prayer with your families in Brazil and their anxieties.
We turn with confidence to Our Lady of Aparecida.
Saint Matthew, in today’s Gospel, presents the parable of the King who organizes a wedding Feast for his son. The King attends to every possible detail in order to prepare an extraordinary event. In many ways, it was to be a sort of “wedding of the year” to which, he imagined, all the prominent people, the celebrities of his town would only be waiting to receive their invitation.
When everything is prepared he thoughtfully even sends his servants out to remind those who had been invited of the privilege that awaits them.
Then comes the surprise. The notables are not interested. They come up with polite but empty refusals, thus insulting the king who had invited them.
What does the king do? To everyone’s surprise he sends out his servants into the places where ordinary people gather: he invites a mixed bag: the rich and poor, the good and bad, the saints and the sinners. The message is no longer addressed to the notables and the respectable. It is not just that there is a different invitation list; the very criterion for inviting changes. Those who thought that they should always be the first to be invited are replaced. He challenges any sense of privilege.
The parable turns our idea of who God is and our relationship with him upside down. It challenges each of us to ask ourselves “do we really understand how Jesus calls?” His criteria are very different to the way we often think.
Then comes the mysterious story of the man who is found to be without the wedding garment and who the King expels instantly. It puzzles us. We have to remember that it was customary for the host at a wedding to provide some special garment to all those invited as they entered. This man simply refused to wear it, adding a further insult and disrespect.
This is a warning to us that no matter what the circumstances in which we encounter Jesus we have to respond to his invitation with the correct disposition: that of repentance. The encounter with Jesus demands that we change our hearts. Without repentance, we do not know Jesus.
For us, who belong to the Church, this would mean that even though we may have answered the call of Jesus or at least have been in some way swept into his broad invitation, there is no way in which we can sit back contended in our ways and decide ourselves what conditions we place on for accepting his call.
Today many are tempted to reject the Church as an institution. They feel that they can be better Christians by moving away from all formality Many feel that they can be Christians just on their own. Some live like the first invitees who feel that in the long run there is really no need for them to be at the banquet, they have other things to do.
It is the Lord who decides what the banquet is like and who is invited. The Lord invites us to fathom his criteria for being his followers, rather than we setting our own norms and expectations. Rather than setting our conditions, we should allow the Lord to overwhelm us with the generosity of his love.
Christianity is not a religion of pure ideas. We do not become Christians by reading someone else’s book or by setting our own criteria. We become Jesus followers by knowing Jesus and by accepting his call. We become Jesus’ followers by being part of his family. The banquet is the Eucharist; the Church is built around the Eucharist, where we share in the self-giving sacrifice of the Lord and where he is our nourishment and support.
May the Lord support us in the challenges of today and give us the strength to look forward with hope.