Rev James Lyons
2 August 2012
On June 26 Catholic lawyers celebrated the feast day of their patron, St Thomas More with an annual Mass. Fr James Lyons preached on the Year of Faith which starts in October.
When we gather next year for this annual Mass, the Church will be in the midst of the Year of Faith – part of the celebration marking the 50th year since the beginning of the second Vatican Council.
Between 1962 and 1965, most of the world’s 2,500 bishops deliberated and debated their way through propositions that promised to renew the face of the Church and equip it for mission into the 21st century.
This Council ushered in a time of great enthusiasm. For many, the Church was at last addressing significant issues within human society, seeking a new partnership with the world and offering a new solidarity, especially with the powerless and marginalised.
Over the next year we Catholics will have opportunities to revisit the Council to experience something of its life and energy, to commit ourselves anew to apply the Council’s great documents of faith and to walk the path the Council mapped out for us.
As members of the legal profession you are both observers and participants in the human struggle to live a well-balanced life – where hope is not overcome by despair; where opportunities are not lost through inertia or destroyed by greed; where mercy and justice can meet; where peace and harmony are worked into reality. You see this struggle in your clients; you share it in your own life.
The Council championed the hopes and dreams of a world desperate for answers that would make life meaningful and give human existence positive purpose. Fifty years on, anxiety still threatens to outweigh hope; litigation too easily discourages peaceful settlements; selfishness continues to block the common good. Your special place in this world means you have much to offer the Year of Faith.
Jesus tells us that if our treatment of one another reflects the treatment we would want for ourselves, then the law and the prophets are being fulfilled. The essence of law is for good order. A gift from God, law is holy and is not to be mocked or ravaged as happens when dogs get hold of it. The law points the way through the narrow gate, and like a string of valuable pearls it adds grace and beauty to life.
So, as you give thanks tonight for the vocation to act for justice and fairness and, as you work to give hope and ease anxiety for people, I ask you to approach the Year of Faith as leaders whose love of the law will draw you to a deeper knowledge of Christ and his law of love. As St Paul writes in Ephesians 1:17, ‘may Christ enlighten the eyes of your mind so that you can see what hope his call holds for you’.
And, with the strength this brings, I have no doubt the yearnings of the human heart, which the Council sought to embrace in its vision, will find a new advocate in you.