Annual Catholic Campaign 2019 – Archbishop Homily

By | September 7, 2019

It’s hard enough to work out
what’s going on in this world. How much harder then is it to work out
what’s going on in heaven? “Who can know the intentions of God?
Who can divine the will of the Lord?” That’s what the Book of Wisdom asks. Well of course, left to our own devices
it would be simply impossible to know the intentions
and the will of God. But we’re not left to our own devices,
because God comes to our aid and lets us know at least something
of His intentions and His will. Now this says first of all that the real
God does have a plan that embodies his intentions
and will. Ours is not an unengaged God
who looks the other way or simply doesn’t bother with the
world or with us. For the Bible God does engage
with the world, does engage with us. God has a plan and wants us to
work with Him in accomplishing His intentions. Our task then is to know the plan of God
as He’s revealed it to us and to work with God
in accomplishing it. So what is God’s plan? A crucial part of an answer
to the question is given in St Paul’s Letter to Philemon
that we’ve heard. First some facts. Philemon was a wealthy Christian,
and one of his slaves, by name Onesimus,
has run away. After running away Onesimus
had bumped into St Paul and had himself become Christian. Paul now wants to send him back
to his master – though as he says, ‘not as a slave anymore,
but as a dear brother’. Now Roman law was savage
on runaway slaves, and if Onesimus returned
to his master, Philemon was entitled to impose
the full weight of the law. Now, however, Paul says welcome
him back as a brother in Christ, setting aside all that the
Roman law permitted. With this, Paul overturns the entire
system of slavery upon which the economy of the
Roman empire depended. He says, implicitly, that the encounter
with Christ crucified and risen brings to birth a new ordering of human
relationships, a new social order. That’s God’s plan – to set slaves free
always and everywhere. God wills an exodus that is forever
and for everyone. Jesus says that the way of true liberation
is renunciation, even of what we seem to depend upon
– family, possessions, even our own life. Our true security is found in sharing
the sacrifice of the Cross. This is strange: loss turns out
to be gain, death turns out to be life. But that’s the logic of God
that underlies His plan. The Annual Catholic Campaign takes
its place within that logic and that plan. Each year the Campaign invites the
Catholic community to help in accomplishing God’s plan. There’s nothing vague or dreamy about it. It involves money, yes; but money given in support of four
very down-to-earth ministries of the Church in this part
of the world. I think of the Priest Foundation as
a little like my walking stick, helping me to stay on my feet. The Priests Foundation offers
retired priests like me support to cover a basic living allowance,
healthcare, accommodation and the like. I do not know what the future
will bring but it is reassuring to know that the
Priests Foundation will be there for me. The MacKillop Fund provides
financial bursaries to some of our local families
experiencing severe hardship. The money you’re raising will help
to support children who are experiencing very difficult
childhoods, and gives them the gift of a great
Catholic education and a caring school environment
when they really need it the most. Catholic Social Services play a vital role
in the life of the church. Your donations to Centacare’s Pastoral Ministries
ensures Christ’s message of hope and love reaches the most vulnerable people
in our community often when they are in the greatest need
and have nowhere else to turn. Gifts to Centacare support hospital
chaplaincy, prison ministry, Catholic Psychiatric Pastoral Care,
domestic violence protection and outreach to those who need
our compassionate care. As seminarians, we are preparing
ourselves to serve the Church and to bring people closer to God
through the sacraments. Your generosity to the Annual Catholic Campaign
provides a home for our formation and theological education at Holy Spirit
Seminary. We want to be there to support you
and your family now and in generations to come. To give a gift to the vital ministries
of our Church, please take some time to fill out the
envelope at your seat. Please make sure to put your gift,
even loose coins, in the envelope and seal it to ensure that your gift gets
to these agencies that need your support. Don’t forget, gifts over $2 are tax-deductible
and you’ll receive your receipt in the mail. You also have the option of making
a non-tax deductible gift, and supporting grassroots Catholic ministries
and parishes through the Annual Grants Program. We hope you’ll consider making
a regular monthly gift, in an amount that’s right for you. Monthly giving makes donating easier for you,
cuts costs for our charities and provides a reliable source of support. Thank you for supporting the good works of
the Church in South East Queensland. The Annual Catholic Campaign
was intended to reduce multiple Sunday appeals
to one single appeal. But the intention behind it goes
far beyond that. In the end, the intention is to call the Catholic
people of the Archdiocese into the unfolding plan of God – not just to help the needy
but also to help change bad systems and bring to birth a new
ordering of human relationships, a society where brothers
and sisters can embrace each other in
the compassion of God. So I urge you to say yes to that.

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