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Homily delivered at the Annual Commissioning Mass of Pastoral Councils

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Mass of the Solemnity of Trinity Sunday, celebrated in the Cathedral of St Stephen on 3 June, was also the occasion of the Commissioning Mass for Pastoral Councils. Archbishop Mark Coleridge blessed and commissioned the Parish Pastoral Council members in their pastoral roles for 2012.

Below is the transcript from Archbishop Mark Coleridge’s Homily:

One of the many things I did during the past week was a pre-recorded interview with ABC radio and I thought I had heard all the questions in these kinds of interviews but I was asked one that I have never been asked before at least not on air and it was simply this “Do you believe in the resurrection?”

What sort of a question is that? I felt like saying well course I do because I am a Christian. But then He said, “No, but do you believe in the bodily resurrection – that it was something more than just spiritual or metaphoric?”

I said, “Yes of course I do because I am a Christian and I happen to be a Christian Bishop charged with the teaching of the faith at the heart of which there is the resurrection of Jesus not as some fable or fabrication, not as something merely spiritual or metaphoric but as an astonishing reality that gathers up the whole reality of the human being and indeed the whole of the reality of creation.

As Saint Paul says, if He is not risen from the dead then we are the most pathetic people of all and if He is risen from the dead brothers and sisters than we are entrusted with the truth at the heart of every truth.

If He is not risen from the dead than Jesus is just back there somewhere as a wise teacher, who needs another one of them? Or as a wondrous miracle worker, who needs another one of them? Or as a peerless role model, who needs another one of them?

Without the risen Christ, the Church is just a corpse, not a living body glowing with the life, the immortal life of the risen one.

The spirit who raised Jesus from the dead against all the odds and even against the laws of science and biology; the spirit of God who raised him, the breath of God which is what the spirit is – gives life to the church and makes her, even in Paul’s astonishing phrase, the body of Christ. Christ not back there but here and now as presence and power.

In the Gospel, that has just been proclaimed, we have heard the risen Christ, not some wise teacher, commissioning the Apostles to go out absolutely everywhere. Not just to their own or not just to those with whom they are comfortable but to go out to ‘all the nations’ says Jesus at the end of Matthew’s Gospel.

The same Jesus commissions you here and now in exactly the same way. Not just to those whom you know and to those whom you feel comfortable, nor even just your parish or your deanery.

The same Jesus, risen from the dead, commissions you and commissions me to go out and speak to all nations the truth that we call the Trinity. What do I mean by the truth of the trinity? That there is at the heart of all things a perfect love.

Who could believe it in a world so often loveless and where love is often threatened and violated there is at the heart of all things a perfect love, so perfect we speak of three persons but only one God – this is the love, the infinite abyss from which everything comes and everything must return. This is the great truth the triumph of love over every lovelessness. The love that is perfectly violated on Calvary is the love which is perfectly vindicated only when Jesus rises from the dead.

The one who sends us out, who commissions us, sends us on mission, is the one who is with us. He doesn’t just say see you later at the end of time he says I will be with you. So He sends us out and He promises, He will be with us not just as presence but as power.

In other words, the one who sends us out also equips us for the mission, and were He not to do that the mission would be simply impossible. So He is the one who equips us and He equips us with himself, that is why we gather in this sacred moment where we hear His word not some human wisdom but the power of His word and we will eat the body and drink the blood not just bread and wine we will eat the bread that becomes His body and drink the wine that becomes His blood. He equips us for the mission by given us the gift of himself and were this not true the mission would be simply impossible.

We are in the Year of Grace and this is the time given to us to see Him anew and to hear Him anew. To see Him, who is with us on the journey, out into the streets of the world to hear Him who is with us on the journey and than in seeing and hearing Him to understand the journey that we take as His disciples and His missionaries. In seeing and hearing Him we understand where the journey begins, we understand how the journey unfolds and we understand how the journey will come to its end.

Where does it start? How does it unfold? Where does it end? The answer to all those questions is Jesus Crucified and Risen. The first and the last, the beginning and the end. We have heard the Book of Deuteronomy read to us. The Book of Deuteronomy was compiled in a time of political, military and religious crisis it was a serious attempt to make a fresh start in the face of looming catastrophe.

The very name is Greek for second law Deutoros (2nd) nomos (law). It was an attempt to start afresh in Ancient Israel in this moment of crisis and to start afresh from the law, the law understood is God’s greatest gift to Ancient Israel the law which in being obeyed opened a path of endless exodus, a liberating law. If people sought freedom they must start afresh with obedience to the liberating law of God, such was there understanding.

This Year of Grace for each of us and all of us together is also time to start afresh, it may not be a moment of crisis quite like ancient Israel’s but it is a moment of challenge and deep complexity, so we must start afresh leaving nothing behind but making a fresh start, but we start not from the law.

The call of this Year of Grace is to start afresh from Christ not some written law however liberating it may be but from Christ risen who is the living law that God gives the world the word made flesh the one who leads us into the abyss of perfect love from which we come and to which we must return. Glory be to Him whose power working in us can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine, Glory be to Him in the Church and in Christ Jesus from generation to generation. Amen

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