RITE OF ELECTION 2018
Homily Notes of Most Rev. Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin
St. Mary’s Pro-Cathedral, 18 February 2018
This afternoon the Church in the Archdiocese of Dublin rejoices as it embraces this group of 31 men and women who are entering into the final phase of their preparation for Baptism and one woman who has asked to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church.
We welcome you as the family of Jesus that is the Church. Jesus himself told us that his family is made up of those who hear the word of God and put it into practice.
For some time now, you have been following a process of catechumenate, listening to and deepening the word of God in your hearts. I greet each of you individually; I greet those who have prepared you for this journey, especially the representatives of the parish communities to which you belong.
Your presence and activity are signs of the renewed sense of Christian vocation and call to holiness of all Christian faithful. I thank you for that witness. I pray that our common renewal in the Lord can develop and deepen.
The season of Lent is a moment of grace offered to the entire Christian community to convert, to return to God. Lent is just not about individual acts of penance; it is not a Christian version of a New Year’s resolution. It is a moment of spiritual battle waged by the whole Church, in order to identify and to turn away from idols of the day, which year by year and generation after generation, can seduce us and alienate us from the message of the Gospel.
Our Gospel reading reminded us of how Jesus at the very moment in which he embarks on the mission he has received from his Father was tempted by Satan. The forces of evil challenge him. He is tempted to turn away from obedience to his Father and to live and work for himself.
The battle between good and evil continues in the hearts of each one of us still today. We know that the presence of evil is still among us; we know how easily it can enter into our hearts and into our society.
We can see this in the senseless violence and total disregard for life that has marked the streets of Dublin recently. This is simply evil no matter how some may try to justify it even to glorify it. Evil is evil and those who work such evil are evil.
The fundamental temptation to act just on our own without God can never be overcome just on our own. The message of Jesus is about opening our hearts to something new and different: allowing Jesus to be the true protagonist of our lives. This does not mean abandoning ourselves, but being authentic in ourselves, through a life of greater simplicity, detached from what is not essential and not true or good in our lives.
We recognise the presence of evil in our hearts and in our society. However, it would be wrong for us to become morbidly preoccupied with the presence of evil and overlook the presence of good in our world.
In today’s Gospel, there is mention of the power of evil but immediately afterwards Jesus proclaims that his message is about “Good News from God”.
The project of Jesus is about Good News. We will not witness to Good News if we become trapped in a morbid preoccupation with evil. The project of Jesus is always a project of love. We must combat evil with love in the knowledge that the Good News of God can triumph where our human means seem doomed to failure. Lent is a time of penance but not a time where sadness and despondency dominates.
At this ceremony, I am delighted to welcome those of you who today take a further step in your integration into this community of faith and worship which is the Catholic Church in the Archdiocese of Dublin. That journey will reach its climax in the Easter Vigil. I welcome the elect who seek baptism; I welcome the Candidate who wishes to be admitted to full communion in the Catholic Church. I welcome your sponsors and the representatives of the parish communities who have helped form you in the faith of the Church.
This will be for each of you a very particular Lenten journey. You are called to know Jesus in a deeper manner. You are called to journey on a path of penance so that you can purify your hearts and minds and thus come to rise with him through the waters of baptism. We are all called to heal what is weak and sinful and defective in our hearts so that we can strengthen all that is upright and strong and good.
Lent is a celebration of the whole Church. We reflect on the mystery of God’s action with his people. The entire Church in Dublin is called during Lent to renew itself through an examination of our lives and our experience. We are all called to turn to the Lord who alone can bring healing.
Those of you who present yourselves today as elect and as candidates have gone through a passage of conversion through knowledge of the scriptures and the teaching of the Church. This process has taken you one step further on your path. Your recognition of Jesus has led you to wish to join the community of the disciples of Jesus.
Jesus has touched your hearts and has sown within them a hunger and longing for participation in his special presence within his Church in the sacraments Christian initiation and in the Eucharist.
Faith in Jesus is not simply a book of rules. It is a path of life that is shared with those who profess the same faith, share the same spiritual nourishment in word and sacrament and live the same life of Christian love.
May God, who has begun this good work in you, bring to fulfilment during this Lenten journey.