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Homily of Archbishop Philip Wilson 13th June 2010- Mass for the Vincentian Family Gospel Luke 7: 36-8:3 My brothers and sisters, The readings selected for our Mass today remind us of one of the most brutal moments in the gospel, in the history of the relationship between God and ourselves and one of the futile moments of the gospel recorded in the gospel, the approach of this woman who came to Jesus and wept over him and wept over his feet and kissed them and wiped them dry with her hair. To appreciate the gentle beauty and wonder of the relationship between Jesus and this woman, you have to go back to the reading from the second book of Samuel, where Nathan chides David for what he did to Uriah the Hittite. Your see Uriah the Hittite was David’s faithful servant in his army and while Uriah was away at the war, David saw Uriah’s wife and took her to himself and she conceived a child. David then brought Uriah home and tried to convince him to go and to be with his wife in his own house. Uriah a noble man of great values said ‘How can I do that? When my fellow soldiers are all at war and they do not have the comfort of their wives or of their homes. I couldn’t possibly do that?” So David tried by holding him back another day to get him to do that by getting him drunk sending him off, even in his drunkenness, the noble Uriah would not do what was wrong. So David send Uriah back to the war with a written order for the Commander and the order said “make sure Uriah the Hittite is put in the front row and when you move forward get the people around him to step back so that he will be killed and so Uriah went back to the war, carrying his death order written by David and that’s why David was considered then to have been such a sinful person. He did such a terrible thing. It was based on such horrible aspect of our human behaviour. And so that is put up one side; to this Gospel story about this woman who comes to Jesus and we see in that the beauty of Jesus relationship with people. In the case of David with Uriah, David had a problem. So the way that he dealt with it was to much sure that Uriah was eliminated, but this woman who came in sin, recognised in Jesus that He was the true solution to the realities of her life and the true solution to the reality of evil in the world. It was the love of Jesus. How did she know that he was like this? What happened in her relationship with him? That led her to come and make such a fool of herself in such a beautiful way, in front of all these people how were judging her so badly and what was it that happened, that when Jesus came as he points out to Simon whose house he was in. What happened that when Jesus arrived, Simon treated Jesus like a dog? He did not welcome him into his home as a human being, because he did not offer him the ordinary, welcoming realities of that particular culture to wash his feet, to wash his hands, to be anointed and to be welcomed. So the contrast there, is between this reality that Simon saw in Jesus. He was interested in him, but he did not recognise anything about the real nature of Jesus and who Jesus was, but the woman did, and that’s why the woman came in and what is probably the most intimate description of relationship between Jesus and a human person is being recorded for us in the gospel of Luke. This is here to remind us about the true nature of the relationship that we have with Jesus and to remind us of the way in which we are meant to respond in the midst of the world that sometimes can be brutal. And in the midst of the world in which people choose sometimes to do what is wrong, even in the life of the church. It is a reminder to us that as at any time in the history of the church we must turn to Jesus and discover his true self as this woman did; that we recognise what we need to do in order to be converted and to be the faithful followers of the Lord. I have no doubt that in recent times that Catholics around in the community, have had a hard time because of the way that people have attacked them over the seeming failures that are being recounted and accounted for in the life of the church. Not just failures about people committing sin and doing evil things but failures because people who are meant to guard the community, the Bishops have also failed because they have not lived out their responsibilities too. This is a moment of great humiliation for us and we have to be very careful then about the response that we are going to make to this, and in order to make the proper response we need to understand who Jesus truly is and to come to him in the midst of all of our weaknesses and all of our failures and weep over his feet and ask him to forgive us and to help us to make a new start in the world. When Vincent de Paul and Louise de Marillac were alive, 350 years ago, the church was exactly as it is today. The community made up of ordinary human persons like ourselves; that are really capable of doing what is wrong and of being unfaithful to the teachings of the Lord and to his example. Really capable of doing bad things that have a terrible influence on the lives of others, but today we remember Vincent de Paul and Louise de Marillac not just because of the dimensions of their life 350 years ago but because of what they exemplify and what they started in the organisations that have come into the life of the church, the communities that are part of the life of the church over these 350 years that have been engaged with Jesus so that they are able then to be strong to witness to the Lord and to bring the peace and the beauty of the Lord into the world, especially to people who need help and people who live fractured and difficult lives. So as we celebrate this wonderful occasion today it is a reminder to us to thank God for Vincent and Louise, for their example and for what they teach us and to thank God for what they have established that is still such a strong presence in the life of the church. To thank God for all of those who have picked up the particular view of the discipleship of the Lord, that is characterised by the Vincentian view of life and of faith, that is lived out so many people who have been members of the Vincentian orders, Congregation of the Mission and the Daughters of Charity and it is such a practical and wonderful way in the life of our church in Australia to the people who belong to the Society of St Vincent de Paul and who day by day do so much that is really remarkable in the name of the Lord. So in the midst of our humiliation and in the midst of our concern about how we can deal with all this and become the people of God that the Lord wants then we need to turn to Vincent and Louise and ask them to help us with their prayers and to help us to be like them. To fall in love with Christ and to allow Christ then to be the centre of our lives and the one then, who strengthens us to do what we must do to make Christ present in the world today. And so in that spirit, my brothers and sisters we now approach the altar for the celebration of the Eucharist.
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