17 April 2004
We gather for this, the first of our diocesan Golden Jubilee liturgical events, on what is, for us, holy ground – the site of the first mission within the area of the Diocese of Bunbury. It is holy ground because of those who lived and struggled here.
The story of their coming here began with each of these missionaries being moved by the Holy Spirit in the same way as were Peter and John, whom we heard about in the First Reading of our Mass. This place is holy because it is:
- where they prayed and celebrated the Eucharist
- where they suffered difficult circumstances and disappointments
- where they supported and cared for each other as Christ taught
- where they talked about problems and tried to work towards the right solutions
- where they had what they saw as experiences of God, such as the Miracle of the Frogs.
While, in purely human terms, this Mission did not appear a great success, its true successes in God’s plan will be revealed when Christ comes again in glory on the Last Day. One of its successes, however, is that this place has become a source of permanent inspiration and a reminder to us, the people, religious, priests and Bishop of the Bunbury Diocese today, that we exists to continue in the South West, Great Southern, South Coastal and Eucla regions of Western Australia. This is the mission Christ first proclaimed to his disciples when he said [Matthew 28:20]:
Go, make disciples of all nations …
Fulfilling our Christian Mission
The Christian mission is not something given primarily to priests or religious. Christ gave this mission today to each and every one of us when we were baptised.
During the recent Easter Vigil, new members were baptised or received into our Church community. The story of the journey of faith of each will have involved a range of people such as husbands, wives, children, friends and fellow parents of children in Catholic schools.
All who played any part in the faith journey of each of those who became Catholics on Holy Saturday night were fulfilling their Christian Mission. They may have sparked or nurtured the growth of faith in those who entered our Church in the simplest of ways:
- try to live each day as Christ taught
- explaining one or more teachings of Christ that related to some issue or question in the person’s life
- discussing some question or issue from the perspective of the Gospel
- giving personal support when someone needed it
- making someone feel welcome in the same way Jesus made people feel welcome
- inviting them to come to Mass for some special occasion
- explaining some Catholic belief in response to the person’s question.
There are many others in our diocese who need to follow the path of faith. All of us meet them every day. They may include:
- work colleagues
- fellow sport participants
- fellow members of various clubs.
As we think of the people we meet each day in the normal routine of our lives, let us keep in mind: ‘Christ is trying through us to stir in these people the gift of faith’. Indeed, each of us could ask the question each morning: ‘Who will Christ be trying to reach today through my efforts to live as he taught?’ The answer to this question will always be: ‘Every person I meet this coming day’.
All of this assumes of course that each of us can be recognised by others as a follower of Christ. In the recent Pastoral Letter, the example was given of Christians being identified by their lives by the Roman soldiers during the persecution of the Roman Emperor Diocletian. To fulfil our Christian calling to mission, we need to be people the Roman soldiers would identify if they had come to our town.