That we grow in holiness was Archbishop John Dew’s prayer in his final homily of the synod.
He told delegates gathered for Mass in Sacred Heart Cathedral on Sunday night that we who are the Church of Wellington must reflect the face of Christ, to be holiness – a message that speaks without the need for words.
Archbishop John opened his homily with an account of a transforming moment of prayer and reflection one day 22 years ago.
The reflection based on the words of St Paul, ‘in your minds you must be the same as Christ Jesus’ suggested that we look at people we dislike, and love them.
The reflection suggested that he ask God to take his heart of stone and replace it with Christ’s heart, then imagine that he had inside him the heart of Jesus.
Archbishop John said he later walked down Lambton Quay and felt the powerful impact of the reflection.
‘Every now and then we have prayerful experiences which keep going, enabling us to be Gospel people, empowering, inspiring and enthusing us to “Walk his way, to tell his truth, to live his life”. Such times stir and rouse us to live the Gospel and to love with the heart of Jesus. Such experiences give us a glimpse of what it means to be holy.
‘If the future statements and the propositions of the synod do not help us to be holy, to respond, to live with the heart of Jesus, then we have wasted our time. We cannot be holy by ourselves. Jesus reminds us that we are one with him, as branches on the vine; without him we can do nothing, therefore he breathes his own Spirit into us so that we might be holy and be his presence in the world.’
It was only when we had the heart of Jesus would we be:
•reflective Spirit-filled people, confident in the knowledge of our own faith, people who are outward-looking and mission-oriented, interacting, learning and sharing with people of all beliefs, ages and cultures, with each person’s gifts recognised, developed and supported
•led by the Spirit, and bringing Eucharist to all who live God’s word with commitment and passion
• a Church which is a cradle of love, a vessel of peace, paddled on a spring of love
• where we are committed to a preferential option for the poor, the vulnerable, the unborn and the frail elderly
• where young people are involved at all stages and levels of our Catholic community
• where we recognise the God-moments in each of our lives
• a diverse and passionate community of disciples
• where our schools and parishes will be in vibrant relationship and there will be an atmosphere of life-long learning
• where social justice is at the heart of the Gospel.
• where we live out our bi-cultural relationship in multi-cultural settings
• where we will practise compassionate listening and praying for the hidden voices.
‘In his Deus Caritas Est, Pope Benedict said, “The Holy Spirit is the interior power that harmonises our heart with Christ’s heart.”’
Archbishop John reminded delegates that they had been together as salt and light over the weekend, in prayer and dialogue mapping the way ahead, so that as people of the Wellington Church, ‘we could be Christ’s presence in our world’.
With a prayer of deep gratitude, Archbishop John said the delegates had worked hard through the weekend.
‘Jesus has breathed his Spirit into us so that we all go forward in hope knowing that our hearts are in harmony with his heart.’
‘One day in Lambton Quay, I remembered that I had the heart of Christ; I try to remember it each day. How powerful our Church will be when each knows that every waking moment we have the Spirit, the heart of Christ.’