Fr Thomas’ Homily for 1st Assembly of the 5th Plenary Council of Australia (27th Sunday in Ordinary Time)

Inauguration of the Plenary Council 2021

The first assembly of the fifth Plenary Council of Australia is to commence on Sunday, 3 October. The first Plenary Council gathered in November 1885. The people of God makes up the Body of Christ called the Church. The Christian Community as the Body of Christ meditated on the mysteries of the Easter experience from the beginning. The New Testament is an account of the promptings of the Holy Spirit in the early Christian Communities and how the early Christians saw the world through the prism of Easter. The Spirit of God has always been with the Church and guiding it through newer challenges and situations. The Church of Australia is gathering for the fifth time in history to discern guidance of the Holy Spirit in various aspects of faith life.  There are five agenda for the current Council. They are Conversion, Prayer, Formation, Structure, Governance, and Institutions.

Today we have special prayers and readings for the Mass to mark the commencement of the first assembly of the Plenary Council. The Gospel is from the great discourse of Jesus in John. When Jesus told his disciples that he will be leaving them to go to the Father, they became confused and anxious about the future. Similar was the experience of the Church around 100 AD. The disciples of John’s Community were faced with Roman persecutions and internal bickering. The evangelist, having meditated on the words of Jesus, wrote the Lord’s response to the anxious disciples which was pertinent to John’s community. 

Our time also has its own challenges. Secular forces have been challenging the integrity of the Church. There are also enough of internal problems and lapsed Christians. Jesus’ words in today’s Gospel is a guide for the church in responding to present day challenges. Jesus said, “The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all I have said to you. Peace I bequeath to you, my own peace I give you, a peace the world cannot give, this is my gift to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.” The plenary Council is to discern what the Holy Spirit is telling the Church today. Therefore, let us all pray for the Council that, it may come up with practical suggestions that we as a community may live the love of Jesus and show the Father’s love to the world.