NATIONAL CHARISMATIC CONFERENCE MASS 2014
Homily Notes of Most Rev. Diarmuid Martin Archbishop of Dublin
RDS Dublin, 28th June 2014
We have gathered to reflect on the thoughts of Pope Francis about the centrality in our lives of the Joy of the Gospel. On this Saturday afternoon, we look more closely at Mary, the model of all discipleship and we want to reflect on how we must live our discipleship as followers of Jesus.
The Gospel reeding is a unique flash into the life of Jesus and of the Holy Family in that period of Jesus’ life which is often called the “hidden life”, the period in his life between the narratives of his birth and his entry into public life.
The Gospel reading tells us that even at a young age, Jesus was able not only to engage in discussion with the learned doctors in the Temple, but that they were amazed at his learning and understanding of what the scriptures were saying.
This passion for the scriptures appears right throughout the life of Jesus. He responds to the temptations of the devil at the beginning of his public life with quotes from the scriptures. We see his passion for and understanding of the scriptures especially in his encounter with the forlorn disciples on the road to Emmaus. He meets them in their confusion and gloom and through his explanation of how the scriptures had portrayed the one who was to come, not only lifted them out of their gloom, but set their hearts on fire with a passion for who Jesus really was and whose identity they had not fully understood.
Still today, we discover the true identity of Jesus not within our own thought categories, but through prayerful and Spirit-filled reading of the scriptures.
Jesus meets us where we are. He invites us to enter into a relationship with him. Faith is not a matter of ready-made answers which can be set out as in a catechism. A learned atheist could learn the catechism by heart and still not have an ounce of faith in Jesus. You enter into a relationship. A relationship is never fully mature on a first encounter. You enter into and deepen a relationship day by day. In any relationship you “store up all these things”, you reflect on them.
You will note, however, that the Gospel reading says that Mary stores up all these things not in her mind, but in her heart. The knowledge we must have of Jesus is not based on cold intellectual information; it must be rooted in the depth of our being and understanding and feeling and emotion.
The joy of the Gospel is not simply a question of intellectual satisfaction. It must be a joy which touches our hearts, takes root in our hearts and then it must spring from our hearts and penetrate everything we do in our lives. When we simply store things in our minds they can quickly revert into the back of our minds, something that is vaguely present, but not something that engages our emotions and our actions.
It is also true that we can store up our understanding of Jesus in our emotions, and that knowledge remains within our own emotions. There is a way of knowing Jesus which ends up as something that cheers us up and give us comfort within the complex and at times hostile culture in which we live. But that would be all about us ourselves.
The joy of the Gospel can never be a joy which is locked up within us, it is a joy which must spread, must reach out, must involve not an ever accumulating internal joy, but a joy which empties us of self-centredness and fills us with a passion to bring that joy to those around us. We announce to others the joy of our belief, but with a passion to ensure that others can experience that same joy. Jesus proclaimed the Good News, but he also always healed the sick and released the burdens of those who were troubled.
The Gospel reading focuses on Mary, but above all it focuses on Jesus himself. Even at this young age he begins to explain to others something of his identity. Mary speaks to him about the anxiety of “Your Father and I”. Jesus however begins to speak of his Father in a different way and they do not understand exactly what he is saying.
Faith does not come in ready-made sound bytes. Mary in her doubts remains a model of discipleship. She does not simply put her doubts aside. She ponders, she reflects, she enters into the prayer of the heart.
We often hope in prayer to get quick answers and quick solutions. We live in a ready-made age, in which we are offered simple superficial answers to everything. The age of the ready-made is not the age which brings real joy as we see all around us. The real Joy of the Gospel comes from that daily encounter between us and the God revealed in Jesus Christ and allowing Jesus through his love for us to deepen our thoughts.
Jesus’ awareness of his own identity is already manifesting itself in our Gospel reading. Yet Jesus does not decide to use his powers directly and appear as a child-prodigy. No: Jesus shows that his identity is not that of being the son of the carpenter, but of being son of the Father. Yet he allows himself to go back and be obedient to this earthly family. He sets out for us a model of how we live as disciples. We do not run away from the everyday life and responsibilities and personal relations which are part of our life. We do not fall into form of belief which runs away from the world and hides in a safe corner. Like Jesus we fully immerse ourselves into a way of living our realities in a different way, one in which our engagement with the world around us is filled with the mystery of the Father who is revealed to us in Jesus Christ, through the Holy Spirit.
When we speak about evangelisation, we are not creating a type of sect which sets itself apart from daily life. We are challenged to bring the Gospel right into the heart of the world around us, and in bringing Jesus into our world we actually humanise the world to the fullest extent.
We are called to bring the Joy of the Gospel to a troubled world. Our joy however is not a superficial, glib joy. The world is troubled and we find ourselves in the midst of that troubled world. We must be able to share the troubles of other. Mary herself shows in her life that her following of her son was a path of sorrow and pain, but her faith was such that even when she did not fully understand, she did not give-in to resignation or rejection, but continued in prayer to ponder the mystery of life and death revealed in the life and mission of her son. Mary showed us that we discover the most profound joy through discipleship of Jesus, rather than from the many apparently attractive solutions which still today – perhaps today more than ever – lead people to seek joy where it will never be found and end up only more troubled and anxious and empty.
May the Holy Spirit renews us day by day in true discipleship and give us the courage to live our lives, with all their troubles and temptations and challenges, a true witnesses tother love of God revealed in Jesus Christ.” ENDS