Most Reverend Vincent Long Van Nguyen OFM Conv DD STL, Bishop of Parramatta
Homily for the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary with CCD Volunteers and Staff at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Seven Hills
8 September 2017
It is with gratitude and joy that we have come to celebrate this Eucharist. God’s love never fails us even in times of uncertainty and crisis. In Jesus, God shows himself visible, concrete and tangible. In Jesus, Isaiah says prophetically in the first reading, God does not abandon us; Paul says in the second reading God co-operates with all those who love him to achieve his purpose and finally the Gospel puts it even more simply and emphatically Jesus is “Emmanuel: God is with us”
That is essentially the Good News that we are entrusted with. As disciples, we are sent to share the Good News and to enable others to live life to the full. We look to Jesus as the model missionary who did not hold on to his divine status but humbled himself and gave himself whole-heartedly to others. Each of us is called to go beyond ourselves in order to enter the world of our brothers and sisters, to encounter, to share and to accompany them on the journey of life. We too are to walk the dusty road of life to meet people’s wounds, hurts, sicknesses and broken relationships. Lives healed, sustained and transformed continue to be the dream of Jesus. Our discipleship is about the nurturing and realising of that dream in spite of all the opposing forces at work in the world.
Today, we honour Mary as one who followed the footsteps of her Son in giving her life in service of others. She did not stay in her comfortable environment. Rather, her life was lived as an act of faith, of trust, of generous abandon to the dictates of the Holy Spirit. It was a constant journey into the unknown, but always in obedience to the will of God. The flight into Egypt, the years of living in exile, the constant uprooting and replanting, the journey to Jerusalem, the agony at the foot of the cross. Mary knew the rough and tumble of motherhood and more.
The Magnificat is Mary’s song of praise to God. It is also a window into her life of faithful and courageous discipleship. Mary was anything but a withdrawn, uncommitted, indifferent person and a mere pushover. The God she served was one who filled the poor with good things and sent the rich empty away. In other words, Mary was committed to justice, to compassion, to raising up the fallen, caring for the uncared for, loving the unloved.
Mary acted in solidarity with the afflicted. She was not insensitive or uninterested in the plight of the needy, the poor and the troubled. Thus for example, at the wedding of Cana, it was Mary who refused to be the neutral bystander. She could have chosen not to be involved. But Mary showed us an example of advocating on behalf of others. She stood up and spoke the word of hope for them. Her attitude of deep empathy and compassion was different to the fearful reaction of the disciples. We are reminded of the story of Jesus feeding the multitude in the desert. There the disciples wanted to send the people away. They acted in fear and showed lack of faith. By contrast, Mary engaged the people and pleaded with Jesus on their behalf. She acted in solidarity with the afflicted and demonstrated her tremendous faith and love.
This Eucharist is also a thanksgiving to God for your active, faithful and generous discipleship. As Confraternity of Christian Doctrine volunteers, you embody the missionary spirit of Jesus and Mary. You choose to go beyond yourselves in order to enter the world of the young people; you meet them as they are; you share your knowlege of God with them; you enrich them not only with the gift of the head but more so with the gift of the heart. Your faith lived in the crucible of everyday life, with all its trials and tribulations, its joys and sorrows is the best gift that one can share with others. I am tremendously indebted to you for being the heralds of the Good News. God only knows the impact of your ministry to the young people in our Diocese.
As we gather to honour Mary today, we give thanks for her maternal care and protection. Mary has cared and protected us in our journeys of life, through all changes and upheavals. Mary, who acts in solidarity with those who are in every kind of need. Therefore, we cannot simply honour her without following her example of care and protection for others. May Mary then help us to be carers and protectors of those who have been entrusted to us. May she also guide us in our Christian discipleship as we seek to be salt to the earth and light for the world. I thank you most sincerely for the service you render to the young people in our schools and parishes. May Mary who is the example par excellence of faith, hope and love intercede for us and make us instruments of grace.