Homily: Grow in the spirit of discipleship
By Mons. Peter Jeffrey:
Think for a moment about what pre-occupies your mind and conversations at the beginning of November. Is it planning for the long weekend with the family? Possibly, it is consulting the Form Guide to have a little wager on the Mel. Cup.
In our liturgical calendar, the 1st of Nov. is the Feast of All Saints and then on the 2nd of Nov. we have the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed. I knew a Priest in Tasmania who used to come across to Melb. to go to the races. He gave a very brief homily by simply saying on the Sunday before the Melb. Cup “If you want to bet on a certainty ‘Pray for the Holy Souls”.
On Friday, I was saying Mass with Fr. Michael Morley at Dhurringile for the inmates who like to attend the weekly Mass. Some of them are not Catholic, but they like to come and pray with the others. They had an opportunity in the Prayers of the Faithful to pray for those whom they wished to remember in the Mass. It was very moving to hear them mention their deceased loved ones - one spoke about tearfully holding his little child in his arms in the Intensive Care Unit while the baby was baptised. The Dad prayed that the child would be at home with God.
We sometimes refer to November as the month of the Holy Souls. Many of you have asked that your loved ones will be prayerfully included in the November Masses.
The message from the book of Deuteronomy, which was our first reading today, is so central. Moses says to all the people “You shall love thee Lord with all your heart. Let these words I urge on you today be written on your heart”. Did you notice that our response to that in the psalm was “I love you, Lord my strength”.
Pondering about our deceased relative and friends may also challenge us to reflect on whether we are living our present life with an awareness that we are on a pilgrimage through this life to an eternal destiny through and with Christ. This may prompt us to look at our priorities – are we just idle travellers through life? On the other hand, do we make time to think and act as pilgrims on a journey when faith will give way to the vision of God in eternal life? It is not easy to have that latter focus because there are so many things that can pre-occupy our minds and hearts and demand immediate attention.
Yet, there is something at the core of our Christian life – our Gospel acclamation today captures it for us. Jesus says to us “All who love ME will keep my words, and my Father will love them and we will come to them”. He goes on to add – “you must love your neighbour as yourself”. If we are to be conscious of this in the daily run of things we need to 1) find a little time and space in our lives to tap into the presence of the Holy Spirit within us and 2) we need to invite the Spirit of Christ’s loving to flow into our daily words and deeds.
If we are genuinely seeking to grow in this spirit of discipleship we need to realize it takes time to develop any skill. We need to be patient with ourselves. I want to emphasize that it will help if we endeavour to tap into that living relationship by consciously adverting to the presence of the Holy Spirit within us from time to time during any day.
Sometimes it will be with a grateful heart for something that has gone well, at other times it may be a plea for help as we face some struggle that is going on in our lives. I am gradually learning that in these moments with the Lord it is important that we do not just do all the talking in prayer – we need to listen.
Perhaps, if we are listening deeply, we may get a whisper that Jesus is with us along the way regardless of what happens, whether they be tough times or good times. We bring both, the tough times and the good times, to the altar in our union with Christ in the Mass.
*This is Monsignor's Homily from the 31st Sunday of Ordinary Time