To the ends of the earth

Bishop of Toowoomba, Robert McGuckin

Bishop of Toowoomba, Robert McGuckin

On Sunday 8 May, Bishop Robert McGuckin celebrated Mass in St Mary MacKillop Chapel, North Sydney, with his brother bishops during the plenary meeting of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference. 

Below is the homily Bishop McGuckin preached celebrating the Feast of the Ascension and World Communications Sunday. 

A number of times in the past weeks we have heard Jesus telling his followers that He was going to the Father and the Holy Spirit would come upon them.

The followers of Jesus, we are told in the Acts of the Apostles, would be his witnesses throughout Judea and Samaria and indeed to the ends of the earth.

Some years ago I was at an overseas conference, where the President of one of the Pontifical Councils, the Venezuelan Cardinal, Castillo Lara, gave a wonderful address on the spirit of law empowering all of us to engage in ministry and be involved in ministry. Afterwards I suggested to him that he should also come to Australia and deliver the same message. In a very delightful way he said to me, but Australia it is the end of the earth. (He very much meant this in a geographical manner, from where he usually resided in Rome).

We are where we are and Jesus’ command that each and every one of us is to be His witness at all times wherever we are.

We also know that this requires more than words. We are told that it is by the love that we have for one another that people will know that we are disciples of the Lord.

Quite frequently our discipleship isn’t so obvious and in fact we might even be an obstacle to people. If this is the case then we need to stop and have a look at ourselves. If we get lost driving in unfamilar territory, we look at a map or phone someone. Perhaps we might need to reset our life’s GPS. We need a positive direction in our lives.

Maybe we are doing things out of order, putting ourselves first, and as it were, going it alone. In this Jubilee Year of Mercy, let our starting point be the love that the Lord has shown to us and the presence of the Spirit within us.

Today, among other things, is also World Communications Day and Pope Francis in his message for today, invites us to reflect on Communication and Mercy…we are called to communicate with everyone without exception, (and we all know how hard that can be at times, especially with some particular group or person)…..but we called are to heal wounded memories and to build peace and harmony, in families and communities – this may seem a very tall order, but, individually we have our part to play. May we receive the grace to make the first move to restore some broken relationship in our lives and build a bridge. This will certainly call for communication and mercy.

Like St Paul may we pray for that Spirit of Wisdom and perception of what is revealed so that we might grow in a fuller knowledge of and friendship with the Lord. We are to be a grace-filled and a hope-filled people. We are still in the Easter Season (for our Orthodox friends, only last Sunday was Easter Day for them….

For many years, having grown up in Sydney with wonderful Greek next door neighbours, I have celebrated with them. Their Easter Greeting is far richer than ours…we just say..Happy Easter! They greet you by saying Christ is Risen! and you respond by saying Christ is truly Risen! (You may have heard this expression before at the Movies My Big Fat Greek Wedding).

I have trained people in Toowoomba to respond “Christ is truly Risen” to my Easter Greeting.

As we celebrate the Solemnity of the Ascension, let us be not just standstill looking into the clouds, but being involved and so activate the command given to us to be Jesus’ witnesses to the ends of the earth.

May we do that today and in all that we do in the coming week…. In whatever we are doing, participating in wonderful meetings, or at work, or back in the classroom, or at home. Let us select our words and actions with care and not alienate people. May we truly listen to one another and not be judgemental.

The 2016 Olympics approaches and we hear of sportspeople working hard to qualify for the Olympics.

As it where, the baton has been handed to each of us, every Christian, to continue the ministry that Jesus entrusts to his Church. There can’t be any spectators.

Let us today and this week try to do things in the correct order, not putting ourselves first, but allowing the Spirit of the Risen and Ascended Lord to work through us.

May we remain in the love of the Lord and by the love we show for one another, may people see that Christ is Risen, truly Risen and that we are his disciples in our very special part of the world.

Source :
Bishop of Toowoomba, Robert McGuckin