Homily for the Blessing of the New Buildings at All Saints
Fr Ron Mollison, Mrs Vicki Tanzer for Catholic Education, Mr Rod Welford Minister for Education, Mr Stephen Montgomery principal, staff, parents and friends, students, my brothers and sisters in Christ,
Scripture my dear people is shaped by its culture. An image that is constantly used in scripture is that of light and darkness. In the ancient world when the sun declined sometimes evil things happened because little artificial light was available. Leaving aside the evil things this lack of light reminded me of some of my own past difficulties when I would try to read cowboy novels in shearers sheds by the light of kerosene lanterns, or later at the seminary when lights were extinguished at 10pm trying to read an interesting book under the blankets with a torch. What a relief it must have been when light became available for people in general with the flick of a switch. It was fairly normal therefore that in scripture God would be likened to light and the devil to darkness. All types of lessons were drawn from these images of light and darkness. As a result we can see God as light and then in Godís light see the reality of Godís world. Moreover in using Godís light it is possible to see reality as God sees reality. It is a powerful image that is used strongly in the scripture readings today, the Gospel and Epistle of John and the Gospel of Matthew. But because we are sons and daughters of God the scripture takes this image of light a step further. Because we are children of God we too can share in the light of God and can then become a light for others. We can help other people see. That will happen naturally if we internalise our faith to such an extent that it drives us out on mission. Christís vision gives an answer to life in all its incredible variety, but at the same time also an answer to death, because Christ the light of the world eliminates death as an obstacle to life and makes it instead an entry into an even deeper and newer life both here on earth and in the future. Unfortunately in the past faith tended to focus on future life to the detriment of the present life. However today, judging from some funeral services that I have attended, the tendency seems to be to neglect the future and seek solace and hope only in the past. It is entirely appropriate therefore that we gather today on the Feast of All Saints after which this Parish is named to celebrate the opening of buildings that will be used to enhance our overall Christian vision. As Bishop Thomas Wright of Durham said in his series of brilliant lectures here last year ďThe Kingdom of God present here and now is separated from the Kingdom beyond death by only the flimsiest of veils.Ē He continued ďThe two Kingdoms constantly break into each other so that we live in the presence of those who have moved into Godís presence, as they in turn live on in our presence as well.Ē He was tyring to indicate that because of Jesus Christ life is expanded exponentially for us. We live in the presence of saints canonised or not, and experience this most strongly in Eucharist, as past and present exist together at the heart of Eucharist. Our two worlds then meld together to create a new life. Donít ask me to describe it because I canít. The closest I would come is to say it must be a life of total love between God, ourselves, and one another, those who have died and those who are alive. Nevertheless light is not a bad image of the happiness present after death as we live with the saints who are restricted not only to what we might call the bigger saints, the canonised saints, but also those little saints about whom St Paul the Apostle spoke in his letters, upon whom he sees the church is built. Last week when I was in Stanthorpe, my home town, I walked around the cemetery and was familiar with the names on almost every grave. In the not too distant past I partied with those people, I played sport with them, I shared a beer with them, I danced with them, I worshipped with them, I shared their joy, I shared their sorrow. I look forward now to that day when I will mingle with them once again separated then no longer by a veil no matter how fragile but joined with them in a communion that we rarely experience in this life. The light of our knowledge needs to shine for other people if they are ever to take our Christian vision seriously.
Today I would like to congratulate Father Mollison and all those responsible for the new centre and new classrooms. Those additions will make it even easier for adults and children to walk in the light of God and in turn to become a light for others in the process. May God bless you all for adding these new amenities to All Saints. What you have achieved in a comparatively short time here at Albany Creek is truly remarkable. May God the Light of the World continue to bless and reward you for what you have done and will undoubtedly continue to do in the future.
Archbishop John Bathersby
1 November 2007