Fr Thomas’ Homily for the 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Cardinal Pell, Jesus the Lamb

The sudden death of George Cardinal Pell shocked everyone.  To most of the media he, more than anything else, was a polarising person.  He lived up to his motto, “Be not afraid”, and   and that did not please many.  But it does not diminish his great witness to faith and Christ.  Afterall, Jesus himself, through his ministry, polarised the demography, especially between his followers and the Jewish leadership of the time.  At the end, Jesus was treated like a criminal by the law enforcement agencies of his time – the Sanhedrin and the Roman Governor Pilate.  As a disciple of Christ, Cardinal Pell took his wrongful imprisonment in the spirit of the Lord’s passion.

Evangelisation of Sydney was the main agenda of the Cardinal.  In bringing the University of Notre Dame to Sydney, he was presenting a higher education facility rooted in Catholic tradition as an alternative to the secular universities which were also excellent otherwise.  He wanted the schools in his Archdiocese to be truly Catholic. To affirm proper religious education curricula he prescribed textbooks for religious studies in the schools.  Under his pastoral supervision, Sydney schools were directed to modify their signage to include “Catholic” in their names. Though unsuccessful, he wanted the school principals and those in the leadership roles in the Catholic Agencies to formally profess that they will be faithful to the Church’s teachings.  It was a brave attempt.  All these initiatives were pointing to one thing: show the world that Christ is the Lamb of God, our Saviour, and there is no other saviour.

Cardinal Pell cared for his priests also. It was his initiative to establish the Priests’ Retirement Foundation to improve the life of the priests on lesser duties.  It gave a greater sense of security to the priests retiring from active ministry.  Under his watch “Centacare” became “CatholicCare”.  He wanted every agency of the church to be explicit about its Catholic identity.  As Christians we are to be brave and clear about the Gospel truths.

Church is very keen to profess the faith that Jesus is God’s presence to the humanity, and he is the Saviour of the world.  Therefore, Bible readings on the feast of Christmas were more about Jesus, Son of God, than about Jesus’ birthday.  The feasts that followed Christmas, Epiphany and the Baptism of the Lord, were also centred on the theme that Jesus is God’s incarnation to save the humanity.  This weekend, once again the liturgical readings take up the same theme.  The Gospel says: “Seeing Jesus coming towards him, John said, ‘Look, there is the lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. ……. ‘I saw the Spirit coming down on him from heaven like a dove and resting on him. …… Yes, I have seen and I am the witness that he is the Chosen One of God.” (Cf John 1:29-34)

Following John the Baptist, we are to profess Jesus the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.  We dare to make this profession of faith through the thick and thin of our lives.  It is our identity and our mission to acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God and present him as the true saviour to the humanity around us.