Homily: Launch of the “Year of the Holy Spirit” in the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn
Annual pilgrimage St Mary of the Cross MacKillop Eden, Saturday, 19 August 2023
READINGS: 20TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (Year A) Isaiah 56/1,6-7; Romans 11/13-15, 29-32; Matthew 15/21-28)
We gather once again for our annual pilgrimage to Eden to walk with our Australian Saint, Mary of the Cross MacKillop. This place was always special to Mary MacKillop. As we know, her saintly mother Flora drowned off this beautiful coast with many others on the SS Ly-ee-moon ferry in 1886 just off Green Cape Lighthouse, Eden.
Jesus uses an expression at the end of his teasing dialogue with the Canaanite woman in today’s Gospel. It could also be used in describing both St Mary MacKillop and her mother, Flora. It is the expression: “Woman, you have great faith”. It is from this faith that the Grace of Jesus was able to heal and give great joy.
Today, I have great joy in liturgically inaugurating “The Year of the Holy Spirit” in the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn. I did so this time last year here at Eden concerning “The Year of Walking Together”.
My hope as your Archbishop is that the Risen Lord Jesus will continue to shower the Holy Spirit upon us afresh in our time and place. May the Lord say to us in mercy: “Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn, you have great faith”. Let us pray for deeper faith by consecrating this upcoming year to the Holy Spirit’s guidance and Mary’s intercession.
Let us not walk too fast for the Holy Spirit. Doing this will only produce mere practical outcomes and resources that are not the fruit of “pondering and treasuring”, like Mary. All our efforts and energies would then produce only a modern form of a “Tower of Babel” in the Archdiocese – impressive structures that produce no conversions to God.
On the other hand, let us not drag our feet behind the movement of the Holy Spirit in our midst. To do so will only produce a pietistic Archdiocese who refuses to evangelise all the Gospel, to all the world, all the time.
Synodal evangelisation requires patience and discernment to the subtle directions of the Holy Spirit in our midst. What might seem to some as a lack of practical progress may not be so. Waiting for the reign/rain of God takes time for us to embrace fully. It took time for the early Church, in their discernment of issues in their time, to declare: “It seemed good to us and the Holy Spirit” (Acts 15/28)
Recently, well known Fr Timothy Radcliffe op, made comments in relation to the upcoming international Synod on Synodality in Rome. These words could equally be applied to our “Year of the Holy Spirit”. He said:
Journalists will be saying: “They’ve been meeting for two weeks and they haven’t made any decisions!” And that’s an entirely mistaken approach because what we should be doing is chatting – talking and listening – and then we will be changed. It will be very slow. All our study and argument and analysis is not about finding what to say, but preparing to receive the gift.
To assist us to receive this transforming current of grace of the Holy Spirit, you have already been given many fine resources and documents. They will explain fully the aims and approaches to our Year. The first action is to create “evangelisation circles” in your communities.
All of us, not just some parishes, or some schools or some communities, are strongly invited to participate. We have struggled to do this in the past. Walking in parallel lines is not enough! We must intersect together to allow the Holy Spirit to weave amongst us and lead us. This attitude is the first impulse for our year together.
In the latter part of 2024, we will all meet and listen to what the Holy Spirit is saying amongst us all.
Mr Huw Warmenhoven will serve us in the leadership of accompaniment in all this. He is available to assist: email@example.com
Let us place this next year in our prayers and pastoral actions.