The principal celebrant for this Mass was Archbishop Paul Gallagher the Apostolic Nuncio for Australia.
The readings were taken from Friday Week 20 Ordinary Time Year II
The first reading was from Ezekiel 37:1-4, a passage where God takes Ezekiel to a valley of dry bones and commands him to prophesy over the bones. The bones change and become an immense army. God then tells Ezekiel that this is what He wants to do for His people who think all their hopes have dried up.
The responsorial psalm was not the one in the lectionary. It was Psalm 62(63) a.k.a. first psalm for Sunday Week 1 Morning Prayer with the response 'My soul is thirsting for You, O Lord my God'.
The Gospel reading was from Matthew 22: 34-40 where Jesus is being questioned by a representative of the Pharisees about which is the greatest commandment of the law, and Jesus answers him by saying that we should love God with our whole being and we should love our neighbour as ourselves.
This reading from Ezekiel is one of the options for the Vigil of Pentecost and one that prayer groups in recent decades have often prayed would be fulfilled in their lifetimes. To have that reading proclaimed to us gathered for the Conference on Our Lady's feast day of her Queenship in the presence of the Papal Nuncio and representatives of the Church throughout Australasia was thrilling beyond measure. To hear that promise anew spoken by God into such an assembly was a promise of a mighty action of God's Holy Spirit if we put into practice the new directions He is giving us through this conference. In many ways, it was also deeply consoling and encouraging after we had taken a good long look at all the bad news in the National Church Life Survey results for Catholic parishes.
Archbishop Gallagher : "The reading from Ezekiel we have heard today is more than sufficient for us. Sadly these great quantities of dry bones are a contemporary experience in all the killing fields and places of genocide in our world. They are a testimony to the cruelty of man and to the reality of evil. We would much prefer that they did not exist.
What shocking words these are 'these bones are the whole house of Israel'. These words resonate with me as a pastor and as a human being. We would not be here if everything was beautiful in the garden of the Church.
We struggle on many fronts. It is hard to be confident that flourishing will come, especially when we stare at the white haired imposter that looks back at us from the bathroom mirror every morning. Yet we all know elders of great vigour who put us all to shame.
The Church is injured by many self-inflicted blows. We must be grateful for this awareness that gives us such a cold shower of sobriety.
Be guardians of hope, that is what Pope Francis is telling us, by keeping aflame faith, love and zeal. God takes the initiative. He has loved us first. Let us go out to the crossroads and invite and welcome everyone. Let us take the first step, and become involved in God's great work.
Like those bones in the valley, we need life, that life which comes from the Holy Spirit.
In the Gospel passage we see the Pharisees try to disconcert Jesus. The Pharisee who asks the question about the greatest commandment is implicitly asking Jesus to throw him a lifeline. In many ways it is a similar question to the young man who asked Jesus 'What must I do to inherit eternal life?' The reply Jesus gives to the Pharisee is a challenge to us as individuals and as Church. Jesus will not give up until He has all of us, heart, body, soul and mind.
Following Jesus is not a soft option. I am in this for life.
I cling to the words of St Irenaeus, 'The glory of God is man fully alive'.
Let us beg the intercession of Mary, Queen and Mother, and Jesus, for the graces to become truly alive in Him to the glory of God the Father."
The next blog-post will be about the workshop on the leadership of Pope Francis.
Some of the workshops have been made available as podcasts via www.xt3.com
To access them visit http://www.xt3.com/library/view.php?id=17454
Some of the talks and workshops are now available from http://www.proclaimconference.com.au/resources.
Several video clips, transcripts, handouts and slide presentations are downloadable.