Year of Grace Launched by Archbishop
Article and Photos by Fr R Cross
CONTEMPLATE THE FACE OF JESUS
View Launch Video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8-QYTkxuP1M
Archbishop Costelloe speaks further about the Year of Grace.
View video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ljyjX4gDXQo
On Sunday 27 May, Archbishop Costelloe, Bishop Sproxton and many priests joined with parish representatives from throughout the Archdicoese to launch the Year of Grace at the the Sunday evening Youth Mass in St Mary's Cathedral.
In his homily (see full copy below), the Archbishop spoke of the faith of Peter and how it was tested at the time of the storm on the Lake of Galilee. His Grace said that the moment Peter took his eyes off Jesus his faith weakened and he began to sink into the sea and was overwhelmed by the terrors of the storm. But when he called out and refocused on Jesus, he was saved.
The Archbishop said that this was what the Year of Grace was about, focusing our eyes on Jesus, contemplating His Face and experiencing His saving Grace.
View more photos from the event in Year of Grace Launched by Archbishop Photo Gallery.
Homily – Pentecost Sunday – Year of Grace
Most Rev Timothy Costelloe SDB
View Homily here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kocBmeidGtE&feature=player_embedded
When I was a young man, before I had decided to join the Salesians and begin my journey to the priesthood, I used to help out in my local parish by teaching catechism classes to children on Sundays. I remember once, on Pentecost Sunday, inviting the children to sing “Happy birthday” to the Church, as we often used to say that the first Pentecost Sunday was the day the Church was born.
I’m not sure that I would do that now, and I’m not suggesting that our singers and musicians break into a rendition of “Happy Birthday”, but it is certainly true that on this day, when we recall and in a certain sense relive the coming of the Holy Spirit, we need to remember that it was to the Church that the Holy Spirit was sent by the Father, in fulfillment of the promise made by Jesus to his disciples.
In the first reading of today’s Mass from the Acts of the Apostles we hear that the apostles had all met in one room and it was there that the Holy Spirit came upon them. Certainly the Holy Spirit came to each one of them individually, but only because they were united together, held together by their common calling to be the community of the disciples of Jesus. And in the Acts of the Apostles just before this happens we are told that these same apostles, after Jesus had returned to his Father in heaven, assembled together and joined in continuous prayer, and that they gathered around Mary, the Mother of the Lord, and many other of the first disciples.
Tonight, as we celebrate Pentecost Sunday and together launch the Year of Grace, it is good for us to remember what it means to be the Church. It means to be a group of people who are determined to be disciples of Jesus, and who are willing to try to be as faithful as we can, in spite of our many failings and setbacks. It means to be a people who are gathered together, joined in continuous prayer, united around the apostles and now their successors, with Mary the Mother of the Lord in our midst, and constantly waiting for, and open to, the gift of God’s Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus. It means to be a people who know that our greatest treasure is Christ, that we are nothing without him, and that he, and only he, is the precious gift we have to offer to our world.
As we launch the Year of Grace here in our Archdiocese, knowing that in every other part of the Church in Australia the same thing is happening, I would like to invite us all to reflect for a moment on the Church and in particular on its first leader, Saint Peter. He holds a special place for us in our Catholic tradition.
If you read on a little further in the Acts of the Apostles from tonight’s first reading, you will see Peter standing up with great courage to proclaim the resurrection of Jesus. He seems to have no fear. But of course he wasn’t always like that. In fact, at the most crucial moment in his life, when Jesus was being led away to his death, Peter was overcome by fear and cowardice and denied that he even knew Jesus. It was one of many occasions when Peter let both himself and Jesus down.
Perhaps you remember the story of the time Peter and the other disciples were caught in a violent storm on the lake. They were terrified that they were going to drown. Jesus wasn’t with them in the boat but suddenly they saw him coming to them, walking across the water, in the midst of this terrible storm. When Peter realized that it was Jesus he said to him, “Lord, if it is really you tell me to come to you over the water”. Jesus told him to come so Peter, in his usual impulsive way, jumped over the side of the boat and, with his eyes fixed on Jesus, started to walk on the water towards him.
But then something happened. Somehow or other Peter made the fatal mistake of taking his eyes off Jesus, and once he had done that he became aware of the power of the wind and the waves, he lost his courage, and he began to sink.
We too often find ourselves in the midst of frightening storms. We can be overwhelmed by fear, by doubt, by worry. We can feel helpless in the face of the things we have to deal with. Sometimes we might wonder how we are going to manage, where we are going to find a solution, how we are going to survive. This is true for us as individual Christians, and it is also true for us as a Church. But just as Jesus invited Peter to come to him through the midst of the storm, so he invites us to do the same thing. It doesn’t mean that the storm will necessarily stop immediately. We may still have to go through the wind and the waves. But as long as we keep our eyes on Jesus we will be OK.
For Peter it all fell apart when he took his eyes off Jesus. It is the same for us. If we lose sight of Jesus, or let ourselves get distracted, then like Peter we may well start to sink.
The thing that saved Peter of course is that he realized, once he started sinking, that there was only one thing to do. “Save me, Lord” he cried out, “I am going under.” And Jesus put out his hand, took Peter by the hand, helped him into the safety of the boat, and then stilled the storm and brought peace.
Peter had started out with his eyes firmly fixed on Jesus. But he lost sight of Jesus and everything started to unravel. It was only when he once more turned to Christ and put out his hand that he was able to find safety and survive the storm.
Here is the call of the Year of Grace. As individual Christians and as the Catholic Church here in the archdiocese of Perth we are all being invited to once more turn our eyes to Christ, to fix our gaze on him, to allow him to take us by the hand and lead us through the storms of our lives to safety and to peace.
Like the apostles who were gathered in continuous prayer together with Mary the Mother of the Lord and with the other disciples, if we enter this Year of Grace determined to contemplate the face of Christ then we can confidently hope that we too will experience a new Pentecost, a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and then we, like Peter and the first apostles, will be able to go out and share the gift of our faith and our hope with a world that needs that gift so much.
Let us all, tonight, commit ourselves to starting afresh from Christ.