The principal celebrant for this Mass was Bishop Paul Bird, CSsR, the bishop of Ballarat diocese in Victoria.
He brought quite a significant contingent of over 40 people from his diocese to the Proclaim 2014 Conference.
The readings were taken from Saturday Week 20 Ordinary Time Year II
The first reading was from Ezekiel 43:1-7 about how the glory of God came and filled the Temple, and how Ezekiel prostrated himself before the Lord and was told that the Temple was God's throne.
The responsorial psalm was taken from Psalm 84(85):9-14 about the peace God wants to give His people. The response was sung, and was different to that in the lectionary, 'Lord show us Your mercy, show us Your love'.
The Gospel reading was from Matthew 23:1-12, where Jesus tells us to listen to our religious leaders and to do what they tell us but to not be guided by what they do since they often do not practice what they preach. He wants us to be different and to acknowledge that only God is our Father, Teacher and Rabbi. We are to be servants, and humble.
With so many weeks since this Mass, the initial response to these readings has faded a bit from memory. But the sense is still clear, of God saying 'I am powerfully with you. I have shown you what I want you to do, so go and put it into practice. I am depending on you to do so. And if your leaders fail to support you don't be discouraged, look to Me. I will support you. Be good servants and be found worthy of the trust I have placed in you to accomplish these things.'
Bishop Paul Bird:
"This morning when the deacon took the book of the Gospels over to the lectern prior to proclaiming the Gospel reading for us, he did it in a solemn and reverent way. Seeing him do this reminded me of the things that happen at an ordination of a deacon. During the ritual, the book of the Gospels is placed into the hands of the new deacon with the admonition for him to believe, to practice, and to preach this Word of God. That admonition is also very good advice for each one of us.
We make more of an impact with our words if how we live matches them. We have a problem if our actions do not match our words.
St Charles Borromeo taught us that 'our lives should be sermons in themselves'. Speaking to those at his last diocesan synod he told them: 'Is your duty preaching and teaching? Concentrate carefully on what is essential to fulfil that office fittingly. Make sure in the first place that your life and conduct are sermons in themselves. Do not give people cause to purse their lips and shake their heads during your sermons, since they have heard you before, preaching one thing, then seen you doing the exact opposite.'
(Ed. You can find the rest of his speech in the office of readings for the feast day of St Charles Borromeo November 4 or at http://achristianpilgrim.wordpress.com/tag/sermon/)
A clear message comes across when our lives are consistent with our words.
Blessed Paul VI said much the same thing in Evangelii Nuntiandi 41 about the importance of being witnesses to Christ in our lives as well as our words. People only take notice if our lives back up our words:
"For the Church, the first means of evangelization is the witness of an authentically Christian life, given over to God in a communion that nothing should destroy and at the same time given to one's neighbour with limitless zeal. As we said recently to a group of lay people, "Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses." St. Peter expressed this well when he held up the example of a reverent and chaste life that wins over even without a word those who refuse to obey the word. It is therefore primarily by her conduct and by her life that the Church will evangelize the world, in other words, by her living witness of fidelity to the Lord Jesus- the witness of poverty and detachment, of freedom in the face of the powers of this world, in short, the witness of sanctity."
Last Saturday Pope Francis was in Seoul to beatify 124 Korean martyrs, and he spoke about the great witness these martyrs have given us:
"So often we today can find our faith challenged by the world, and in countless ways we are asked to compromise our faith, to water down the radical demands of the Gospel and to conform to the spirit of this age. Yet the martyrs call out to us to put Christ first and to see all else in this world in relation to him and his eternal Kingdom. They challenge us to think about what, if anything, we ourselves would be willing to die for."
(Ed. For the full text of this homily of Pope Francis visit http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/homilies/2014/documents/papa-francesco_20140816_corea-omelia-beatificazione.html )
May the Lord give us the grace to give witness to Him more by our lives than by our words, so that we truly practice what we preach."
(Ed. For another version of Bishop Bird's homily, and some Ballarat feedback on the Proclaim 2014 conference, visit:
The next blog-post will feature the Keynote speech from the Conference about 'Moving members from Consumers to Contributors'.
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.
These Notes are only one person's version of what they heard, and they are not a literal transcript.