HOMILY FOR MASS OF 6TH SUNDAY OF EASTER YEAR A + CENTENARY OF CLOVELLY PARISH - ST. ANTHONY OF PADUA PARISH, CLOVELLY

Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP,
21 May 2017

HOMILY FOR MASS OF 6TH SUNDAY OF EASTER YEAR A + CENTENARY OF CLOVELLY PARISH
ST. ANTHONY OF PADUA PARISH, CLOVELLY

Like many people's lives, the 1999 film The Mummy, and its 2001 sequel The Mummy Returns, are part action-adventure, part horror, part comedy and part romance. It's a loose remake of the 1932 classic starring Boris Karloff. Amongst other things, we are presented with two parallel love stories. On the one hand, there's the affair between the Mummy, Imhotep, high priest to Pharaoh Seti I, and his beloved, Anck-Su-Namun, the Pharaoh's mistress, which caused them to be cursed in the first place; on the other hand, there is the burgeoning love between our heroes, the former French foreign legionnaire Rick (played by Brendan Fraser), and the budding Egyptologist Evie (played by Rachel Weisz). The love between the first two is of epic proportions, while the second is rather more mundane.

At the end of the second movie, both Imhotep and Rick are hanging from a cliff over a pit that leads to the underworld, unable to climb up, while rock stalactites rain from the ceiling threatening to gore them. It's the sort of scene you expect in such movies, and which no doubt has played out many times from the cliffs of Clovelly during the century-long life of this parish! Without hesitation Evie risks her life to save Rick and help him climb up, while Anck-Su-Namun runs away in fear. While the love between the man-Mummy and lady-Mummy might seem to have lasted two millennia, it was in fact a selfish and thus self-destructive love: when push came to shove, it found no voice in action. Rick and Evie's love, by contrast, was willing to sacrifice itself for others and so able to grow and endure.

In our Gospel today (Jn 14:15-21) Our Lord continues His catechesis on love which you might say was His entire mission. But He does something rather strange, on the face of it, connecting love and truth, compassion and being law-abiding. "If you love me," He says, "you will keep my commandments. Because I love you I will never abandon you but will send you the Spirit of Truth. To love me is to keep my commandments; anyone who does so will be loved by me and by my Father." What is clear here is that not everything that goes by the name of love is true love. Love can be banal, obsessive, lustful, jealous, stifling, destructive. It can be all talk but no action, an enchanting love song but in the end just sentiment and rhetoric. Jesus' thought for us today is that true love of others, above all of God, must be expressed in deeds of generous self-giving, in a life lived in accordance with God's will.

So when St. Peter writes to us today (1Pet 3:15-18), calling on us to reverence the Lord with all our hearts and be ever-ready to give people a reason for our hope, he makes it clear he's not asking us to stand on soap boxes and tell people off. No, he calls for courtesy and respect, enduring wrong rather than ever perpetrating it, patiently living a good life. It is that kind of love-in-action that Peter thinks will draw others in, whether in ancient Rome or modern Clovelly.

And what is the great commandment Jesus gives? 'Love one another as I have loved you' (Jn 13:34). Nothing could be more simple, and more difficult. So difficult, in fact, that we simply can't do it on our own. And so Christ promises us the Παράκλητον (Paraklēton) a divine advocate, consoler, protector, accompanier. He will make it possible for us to live according to the commandments of love. And as we saw in our first reading, that Spirit comes as a gift at Baptism and Confirmation (Acts 8:5-8, 14-17).

The Christian life, then, individually and as the parish community of St Anthony, is about living the truth in love, following the commandments of love, so conforming our minds and hearts to Christ's as to become free and expansive and self-giving lovers, rather than mummified, inward-looking, self-serving ones. š›

The patron of this parish, St. Anthony of Padua, is dear to me as my name-saint. He wonderfully embodied both the spirit of truth, giving reasons to all who asked, and the commandment of love, demonstrating that compassion memorialised in 'St Anthony's Bread'. So truthful were his words of preaching and so authentic his life of loving that when his remains were moved they found his tongue had remained incorrupt, as it still is to this day, eight centuries after he died. Though he was a Franciscan like Fr Phil and the Friars who first ministered in this parish, his love of learning and rhetoric might seem very Dominican; but he proved his Franciscan credentials, when people of a coastal village like Clovelly wouldn't listen to him, by going down to the sea and preaching to the fish!

I'm not sure how much preaching to the sharks goes on here at Clovelly today, but I know the parish has shown hospitality to all comers, including refugees and the poor, and indigenous and other young people of Broome during the World Youth Day. It maintains a lively sacramental and devotional life, an active music ministry, and is generous to the needy through Project Compassion and other avenues.

You articulate your mission as "to know Christ and make him known… to discover Christ present in each person through our ministry to each other, our service to the wider community, the joyful celebration of the Eucharist and other sacraments, and our active concern for social justice." After 100 years of progress in that mission much has been achieved. But there is still much to do: the last census found attendance at Sunday Mass in this area was about half the average rate in Sydney. My big birthday challenge to you, then, is to recommit to offering the spirit of truth, the life of love, the reasons for hope, to your neighbours, bringing Christ to the world and the world back to Christ.

With that challenge as your particular birthday present, let me wish you all a very happy birthday. Thanks be to God for you!

WORD OF THANKS FOR MASS OF CENTENARY OF CLOVELLY PARISH
ST. ANTHONY OF PADUA PARISH, CLOVELLY

My congratulations to Father Pawel and to you all on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of your parish. I don't expect to be around for the next centenary, but as I look out today at the many faces, young and old, that make up this parish, I know that this parish will be in good hands. I rely upon the younger people here to remind others at the 150th celebrations about the party we had back in 2017. Perhaps one of those young faces I see here today may even be where I'm standing now! A very happy birthday to you all. Ad multos annos!


INTRODUCTION FOR 6TH SUNDAY OF EASTER YEAR A + CENTENARY OF CLOVELLY PARISH
ST. ANTHONY OF PADUA PARISH, CLOVELLY

Dear brothers and sisters, it's a great joy to be here this morning to celebrate the centenary of this parish: I think you are all looking pretty good for 100-year-olds! It was in August 1917, while the world was at war, that Archbishop Michael Kelly laid the foundation stone for a small building that would serve as the first parish church and school: it is now part of the ground floor of the school. Our current Baptismal Font, Stations of the Cross, and statues of the Sacred Heart, Our Lady, St Anthony and St Joseph are all from that original church; but this new church had to be built in the following decade to accommodate the ever-growing population by the sea.

I acknowledge the Parish Priest, Fr Pawel Kopczynski CSMA; past Parish Priests Fr George Connolly and Michaelite Fr Janusz Bieniek CSMA; and 'old boys' of the parish Bishop David Walker, Emeritus of Broken Bay, and Fr Matthew Digges.

From the Franciscan Friars who ministered in this parish in its first decades I welcome Fr Philip Miscamble OFM and from the Sisters of St Joseph, who ministered alongside them, Sr Francis Flemming RSM; and from the Presentation Sisters who followed after them, Srs Anne Jordan PBVM and Julianne Murphy PBPV. From the parish school we have the present Principal, Kim Whyte, along with ex-Headmistress Louise Minogue, staff and students.

I welcome from the community Hon. Matt Thistlewaite MP, the Federal Member for Kingsford-Smith; Mr Bruce Notley-Smith MP, the State Member for Coogee; and Councillor Noel D'Souza, the Mayor of Randwick.

As we begin our Mass today, we remember with gratitude all those who built this parish over the century past, those who serve in it still, and commend it to Almighty God in the century ahead.