Homily by Fr Michael Tate
We are John the Baptists
John the Baptiser was an eccentric figure. Elsewhere we read he was dressed in a cloak made out of camel hair to protect him from the chill of the desert night, and that he ate locusts and wild honey, what he could scavenge as a truly poor man.
And so we can think that a person who prepares the way of the Lord has to be somewhat extraordinary, somewhat eccentric, even bizarre, the sort of person whose arrival somewhere draws a crowd.
But, you and I are called to ‘prepare the way of the Lord’. Some of you do qualify as eccentric and bizarre, but for most of us of the ordinary ilk, our vocation is to do what we can to prepare the hearts and minds of those with whom we come into contact so that Our Lord Jesus Christ can enter into the history of that person’s life.
Every act of
unselfishness, every act of companionship, every act of setting to right
some injustice, every act of encouragement so that a person begins to
bloom in a new way, every act of advice to avoid some folly which would
hurt or stunt someone, all these actions and many, many more, make the
path straight for Our Lord to enter that person’s heart.
But, lest we become just another moralising meddler in other people’s lives, we have to let God prepare our heart for our role. John the Baptist helps us understand what is involved.
First, we must ‘repent’. We can all identify that part of our lives which we need to turn around, sometimes 180 degrees! Second, we have to carry out our role believing with John the Baptist that ‘all who live shall see the salvation of God’. We must not allow ethnic or social identity to limit our role as John or Joan the Baptists in this world.
In this respect there are signs of hope in our world. Without having a clue of what I am talking about, I am sure that we should encourage social media, and much of the blogging and twittering which link millions of young people across the planet. Their constant and instantaneous communication negate the contours of geography and the boundaries of nations.
Young people are saying ‘we are one community of human beings on this fragile planet whether in Tanzania, Chile, Oklahoma or Tasmania’.
pastoral guidance and with a new generation of truly global Catholics,
Pope Francis wants us to be ‘les mercifuls sans frontieres’. Were that
realised, we would be hastening the day when all who live shall see the
salvation of God.
In the meantime, the challenge this Advent is to identify the one person whose heart you can help prepare to celebrate the coming of the Lord Jesus in three weeks time. The best method is to let that person see your faith and joy centred on that little Jewish baby lying in a manger.
We cannot put boundaries on the effect of our preparing the way of the Lord in that person’s heart because, when the Lord Jesus comes, it is as the Sovereign Lord of History, the Ruler of the powers of the Cosmos, so the effect may be felt beyond that person’s individual situation, into his social setting, community, and so to the world.
With God’s grace, you don’t have to be as eccentric or bizarre as John the Baptist to change the course of history!
© Fr Michael Tate
70th Anniversary of the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights
On Monday 10th December we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The declaration grew out of the aftermath of the 2nd World War and the suffering of so many civilian non-combatants and displaced people.
While we might acknowledge that human rights are inherent and absolute the reality, both before, during and after the war, tells another story.
Australia was one of the eight countries tasked with the drafting of the Declaration, and Dr Herbert ‘Doc’ Evatt was highly influential in shaping the final draft. He was also to preside at the U.N. Assembly when it was adopted.
It is a tragic irony that a country like ours, with such a proud history of asserting the moral truth contained in the Declaration, is responsible for the continued suffering and despair not only of the refugees and asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru, but the many refugees who do not make the headlines and are living among us in community and institutional detention who remain in limbo without resolution of their visa situation and often relying solely on the support of Church groups and individual Australians.
This anniversary is an opportunity to remind ourselves and our political leaders of the pioneering and prophetic role our nation played in the bringing of the Declaration before the U.N. General Assembly. We must not be silent when suffering continues to happen in our name. Silence bloats evil!