Homily for Mass to celebrate Centacare Week
Mr Peter Selwood, Executive Director of Centacare, Centacare staff, Bishops, priests, deacons, distinguished guests, my brothers and sisters in Christ,
A week ago the Roman Catholic Ecumenical gathering was held here in Brisbane. One part of the program was the celebration of an agreement about Justification made ten years ago between the Catholic, Lutheran, and more lately, the Methodist Church in Australia now a member of the Uniting Church. Without going into great detail about the long discussion that took place beforehand the partners in discussion eventually agreed that we are saved not by good works but by belief in Jesus Christ and by the grace of God. It was entirely appropriate in our somewhat godless world to realise once again that we donít save ourselves but are saved by God alone. It is a healthy reminder to which we should frequently return because so many people who do good do not always understand that they are moved into goodness by Godís Holy Spirit. The agreement of the Churches was almost miraculous considering that only 400 years ago Catholics and Lutherans hurled rather savage ex-communications at each other. I mention this matter today because on the 50th anniversary of the establishment of Centacare we gather to acknowledge the goodness done not by ourselves alone but by the power of Godís Holy Spirit who constantly enters our lives and plants an idea or suggestion in our minds and hearts that ultimately will make the world a better place for all. Justification reminds us of the role that God has played in the work of Centacare over the past 50 years. In that time Centacare with the assistance of Godís spirit has touched the lives of more than 70,000 people as it focussed on and strengthened families, people and communities. The mission of the Church is making a better world for all, according to the life and example of Jesus Christ. Does the work of Centacare make that happen suddenly? Sadly no. But nevertheless ever so slowly it changes the lives of those people to whom it ministers and in doing so making their lives better, and society as well. The world is a better place today because of the Churchís 2000 year old mission to the world, so that the more that Centacare focuses on Jesus and His care for all people especially those in need, so much the better. Jesus Christ came to change the world, to establish a new world through His life, death and resurrection. Having created that longed-for new world He then challenged the apostles and us to open our eyes to see it and to make it even better through our work and the work of Centacare that under the guidance of the Holy Spirit reaches out to people who need its skills.
Just as Godís chosen people longed for a new world, in the scripture today the prophet Ezechiel looks into the future and sees that world overflowing with life, manifest in the image of water flowing outwards from the temple, new life coming from God Himself, Lord and Giver of Life. The letter of St Paul to the Corinthians reminds us that each and every person carries God in their hearts. Each and every person is a temple of God. It is this supreme dignity of each and every person that drives Centacare towards people in need, the same need that drove Jesus Himself towards the poor. Finally the gospel today reminds us in the person of Jesus that life does not consist merely about making money and accumulating possessions. Rather it is all about loving God and caring for our brothers and sisters in Christ. Each and every person is a child of God and should be treated as such.
So today we rejoice in what Centacare has done during 50 years of existence. We congratulate all those people who have assisted it during that time. Today in a special way I congratulate Mr Peter Selwood and his staff for supporting the mission of the Church in this Archdiocese, and in doing so making the world a better place. The Mass we celebrate re-presents the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Centacare canít exist independently of God. It is driven by Godís grace conveyed to us through Godís Holy Spirit who with a suggestion here, a word there, moves us suddenly or slowly towards goodness. We are made to do good deeds as Jesus Himself did throughout His entire life. Never let us forget the power of God that underpins goodness always, otherwise our lives and the lives of those people we serve are merely empty. May Godís Holy Spirit bless Centacare abundantly into the future and may Blessed Mary MacKillop the Patron of this Archdiocese inspire us by her care for the poor throughout her life. May she pray for our humble attempts to do good, as we the people of the Archdiocese seek to promote the work of Centacare through material and prayerful assistance.
Archbishop John Bathersby
November 9, 2009