MH17 Disaster: Mass of Remembrance and Call for Peace

girlHomily by Auxiliary Bishop of Sydney Peter Comensoli

St Mary’s Cathedral, 20 July 2014

The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. While everybody was asleep his enemy came, sowed darnel all among the wheat, and made off. (Matt 13.24-25)

One of the most profound and mysterious events in every person’s life is the moment of realisation that we human beings are a complex mixture of light and dark, of good and evil. In that moment when we first acknowledge this reality, honestly and humbly, we start to claim ownership of our humanity.

We know we are created for that which is good, true and beautiful, yet we allow ourselves to absorb that which is evil, false and ugly. God’s most marvellous creature of light and life often enough becomes lost in the shadows of corruption and death.

In the targeting and destruction of flight MH17, and the loss of 298 innocent lives, the shocking effects of our fallen humanity have once again confronted the world. But what are we now to do with this latest instance of an age-old knowledge?

In his parable of the wheat and darnel, Jesus shows just how well he understands the human condition, and our propensity to mingle that which is good with that which is evil. In particular today, we might note especially what Jesus tells us about how this mingling occurs. To repeat the words of the parable: While everybody was asleep his enemy came, sowed darnel all among the wheat, and made off.

It was in the darkness – when actions are most easily hidden – that the enemy came. While the people were sleeping and their vigilance was at its lowest ebb, the act of deception occurred. The good and open work of sowing wheat in the daylight is undermined by the evil and hidden work of sowing darnel in the night.

From this insight of Jesus, we are reminded that evil will always have its way when vigilance and transparency are allowed to wane. It will seek out the paths of subterfuge and hiding. Delusion, not truth, is the chief strategy of the Great Deceiver.

Yet, evil is inevitably exposed in the light of day. It is a harrowing image to see fields of crops in Eastern Ukraine strewn with human remains and wreckage, and to think of fields of wheat strewn with darnel.

The downing of MH17 was not an innocent accident; it was the outcome of a trail of human evil. Consider how blame and buck-passing is the current strategy of those responsible.

The subversion of truth is also happening in other places in the world, wherever human dignity lies blanketed under violent hatreds, ancient and new.

Evil will try to hide, obfuscate, deny. But by the light of day the true picture will be seen. And it is under the light of the Resurrected Day, that the Risen Lord calls all of us to walk.

Here is where we might learn what we each can do about this evil tragedy, and all the human tragedies that are currently sprouting amongst the goodness of the world. Any good gardener will know that a well-planted, and well-tended lawn will help to keep the weeds under control.

Our own human condition is like a garden. The question is, how are we planting and tending to ourselves? Are our own actions and dispositions, our affections and motivations, well-soaked in the light of goodness and truth and beauty? Have we sown seeds of justice and peace in our hearts; have we weeded out the roots of corruption and violence?

These are matters we can all attend to with the aid of God’s grace and a simple trust in him who created us, so that our own lives may become examples for others to see. The extent to which each person comes to live in the light of grace, is the extent to which the darkness of evil will not gain a foothold in the world.

Today, we pray for the gentle and eternal repose of the 298 innocent lives lost in the downing of KH17, especially commending to God the 28 Australians killed, including our own Sr Philomene Tiernan.

We also pray for the conversion of heart of the perpetrators of this terrible evil, that they and all who are tempted to hide under the darkness of human corruption, will now walk on a path that upholds the dignity of every person.

And finally, let us pray for ourselves, that we may be people who courageously and humbly seek to live our lives under the good, true and beautiful light of the Risen Lord, “who will always come to help us in our weakness”. (Rom 8.26)

As the verse from today’s Gospel Acclamation put it:

May the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ

enlighten the eyes of our mind,

so that we can see what hope his call holds for us.

Most Rev Peter A Comensoli

Apostolic Administrator

Archdiocese of Sydney