Most Reverend Vincent Long Van Nguyen OFM Conv DD STL, Bishop of Parramatta
Homily for the Blessing and Opening of the St Michael the Archangel Shrine and Bell Tower at the Shrine of the Holy Innocents, Kellyville
7 April 2018
It’s a great privilege for me to be with you on this special occasion in which we bless and dedicate the new bell tower of St Michael which is a great addition to the Shrine of the Holy Innocents. As we gather, we express our gratitude to God who has brought our endeavour to fruition. We give thanks to all those who through their shared vision, dedication and hard work have made this possible.
It is fitting that we dedicate this bell tower to St Michael the Archangel. For he and his angels, says the book of the Apocalypse were on the side of goodness, life and love. They fought against Satan and his fallen angels who represented darkness, death and evil in the world. They ultimately triumphed over these forces thanks to the blood of the Lamb. We are strengthened by their company and encouraged by their victory as we in our turn bear witness to the Gospel of life and love.
Here at the Shrine of the Holy Innocents, we renew our commitment to give witness to the inestimable worth of each human person. The late pope John Paul II proclaimed the good news of the dignity of personal human life with boldness and candour. In the encyclical “The Gospel of Life”, he denounced attacks against life in the name of human freedom and progress. He particularly mentioned the great multitude of weak and defenceless human beings, the unborn whose fundamental right to life has been trampled. His diagnosis endures as relevant as ever today. The Church continues to proclaim the inviolable right to life of all the unborn. She does so with conviction, fortitude and yet always with love and compassion.
The Gospel tells us of how he goes about proclaiming the reign of the Kingdom and acting in favour of that Kingdom despite the rampant presence of evil. In him, we experience the realm of God which is what the image of Jacob’s ladder refers to. He says, “The angels will go up and down on the Son of Man.” That is, upon himself. He’s talking now about Jacob’s experience where heaven approached so close to earth that the inhabitants of the two realms could meet. Now in Jesus – not just in one geographical place – in Jesus, the realm of God would come that near.
In Jesus we meet up with a God who awakens our responsibility to not ignore everyone else. In Him, we meet up with a God who frequently asks us what we are doing for the least of his brothers and sisters. We might not be able to do great things, but we know that we need to be a part of a life that has more dignity and happiness for all. This God makes us live with more clarity and dignity. This is a God who convinces us that evil, violence and hatred don’t have the last word. In the power of his life, death and resurrection, we partake of God’s love which is stronger than death.
Let us look to Mary as a model of every pro-lifer. It was She who gave birth to the Lord of life; it was She whose virginal womb was the temple par excellence of God; it was She who stood firm in every trial and tribulation. Let us learn from her unflinching faith, absolute trust, complete availability that enabled the Most High to accomplish His Will through her. Let her words “Be it done unto me according to your word” be our own response as we embrace fully the call to uphold the supreme value of human life, to treasure and to safeguard it at all costs.