Thursday 6 September 2012

Bishop Peter's Homily

Bishop Peter Doyle has kindly allowed us to reproduce his homily from Lourdes 2012:

Homily at the Mass of the Anointing of the Sick during the Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes

St. Bernadette was already sick with asthma and malnutrition and hunger when Our Lady first appeared to her. What did Bernadette see? A lady dressed in white and surrounded by light - Mary reflecting the risen glory of her Son, Christ the light of the world.

When Jesus takes Peter and James and John up the mountain, they catch a glimpse of that same light when Christ is transfigured - the vision of that future hope and glory which will flow from the suffering and death of Jesus.

The Transfiguration is the fourth of the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary which we are praying with Bernadette today. In those mysteries we see that the light of Christ shines in the Church through our witness to the Gospel and in the celebration of the Sacraments as we reflect on the Baptism of the Lord, the Proclamation if the Good News, the Marriage Feast at Cana, and the Institution of the Eucharist. For the Sacraments are the celebration of the Paschal Mystery, that is, Christ's victory over sin and death through his suffering and dying and rising.

Like Peter up the mountain, we can just want to hold on to the glory bits. He wanted to capture that amazing experience by building three tents for Jesus and Moses and Elijah. In the same way we can want to hold on to this experience of Lourdes. But Jesus came down the mountain to embrace all human experience in his suffering and death.

That is what Jesus does in his Church today as we celebrate the Sacrament of the Sick. While the focus is on the anointing of the sick among us, the Sacrament engages us all. It is a sacrament you who are helpers and nurses and doctors have been preparing for and living out all week in your care and touch and tender compassion - yours has been and is the ministry of Christ and his Church.

You have been strengthening our sick brothers and sisters with words and actions of faith and by praying with them. You have been commending them to the suffering and transfigured Christ. You encourage them in their great contribution to the well-being of the Church as they unite themselves willingly with Christ's passion an death.

Dear precious sick pilgrims, you are, above all, witnesses to our mortal life being redeemed through the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Now we celebrate with you the Sacrament of the Sick to strengthen you in carrying the cross of suffering, and to raise you up in times of anxiety, weakness and temptation. In this sacrament the grace of the Holy Spirit is given to you as we look back to Christ's death and resurrection, the source of sacramental power, and look ahead to the future kingdom of light and life pledged in the sacraments.

I have seen examples of compassionate touch and healing grace abound this week, making holy the ministry to the sick. May we be renewed in that ministry as we return home. Now that ministry is brought to a high point in the anointing of the sick. May Christ's light penetrate the darkness of your sickness, and may the Lord save you and raise you up. Amen.

(c) Bishop Peter Doyle

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