Category Archives: Homilies



HOMILY – 5 LENT [B] 2018

Did you hear the warning this week about the threat of plastic bags to marine life? Apparently, if nothing’s done to clean up the mess, by 2050 the weight of plastic in the world’s oceans will outweigh all the fish!

News like this fuels the “carbon footprint” argument that we humans are polluting the earth at an intolerable rate, to the point where numbers of young people are increasingly pessimistic about the future. They feel their presence only adds to the problem, and that they shouldn’t have been born.

An appropriate thought for this stage of Lent. There’s a sense of foreboding in the words of Jesus as he speaks of the dark times ahead – giving us the image of the wheat grain that must die in the darkness and isolation of the soil, if it’s ever to find its fulfilment in harvest.

What starts as a negative – death of the seed – is shown to have positive results – a great harvest. Life, death, life flow in a natural rhythm. There’s confusion when some Greeks ask to see Jesus. Their request catches the apostles unprepared and they have to consult before they pass these newcomers on to Jesus: did he mean his message for Greeks? Didn’t they have their own religion? What are they up to? Can they be trusted?

I think the challenge to the apostles was, did they want to share Jesus? They had a tight little group. Racially and culturally they were united. Let’s keep it that way! None of us want to lose what we value. Those who feel they’re contributing to global warming and other pollution simply because they’re alive, don’t really want to die – they’re caught by their sense of helplessness in the face of global problems beyond their influence or control. The apostles, and you and I who follow Jesus, can feel comfortable in the ritual and practice we know and appreciate, and want to keep things that way. But also like the apostles, we must see ourselves as seeds, sent to be sown – buried alive, not dead! To quote Mahatma Gandhi: To find yourself you have to lose yourself, and when you lose yourself you find yourself fulfilled.

The “positive” to all this appears if you remove concern about the “footprint” you might be leaving on the ecosystem, and look at what your hands can do: weeding, planting, reaping, harvesting, embracing, comforting, holding, affirming… It is the work of human hands that we lift to God, that meet the requirements of the partnership role we’ve each been given. If my footprint scars the earth and stamps out life, my handprint can hold and heal and join me more firmly to life.

God speaks to our hearts – our instincts and feelings. Intellect and intelligence are not God’s primary concern. Jeremiah (1st Reading: J 31:31-34) makes this clear – I will plant my law, writing it on their hearts – and they will be my people and I will be their God. It’s our experience of love – the realm of the heart – that directs faith and motivates the desire to belong and to contribute.

Our throwaway world, symbolised by plastic, threatens life because it doesn’t care. By learning to read the law written on your heart, any hesitation to serve and to give disappears, because you discover a community with so many others. Heart and hand together guarantee sowing and reaping, helping those fearful of tomorrow to be convinced they can make something of today.

Homily – Fifth Sunday of Lent – Cardinal John Dew

Fifth Sunday of Lent, 18th March 2018, Cathedral

“See, the days are coming” they were the first words we heard from the reading from the Prophet Jeremiah. Jeremiah was saying that v-because the people had been unfaithful to God that something new was about to happen…..he talked about a New Covenant that would not be an external Law, but that would be planted in the people themselves and through God’s mercy they would have a personal and direct knowledge of God.

“See, the days are coming”…that is what Lent is all about for you and I, God is doing something new for us as we listen more deeply to His words, as we through God’s grace grow in the way we respond to God and others every day. Lent is a time of personal renewal, a time to be more aware of the fact that God has written his law in our hearts

The days are coming when God will do all those things for us, are we ready for what God wants to do in our hearts.

Last weekend he whole world observed 24 hours of Prayer for the Lord. This year our 24 Hours of prayer was observed at Sts Peter and Paul Church, Lower Hutt. I went out late on the Friday night, I had hardly sat down and opened my little book of reflections and prayers when I read these words.

“Our Father, we have wandered and hidden from your face;

In foolishness have squandered your legacy of grace.”

I have been pondering ever since about how I have been using Lent and asking myself the question “have I squandered God’s grace? Am I squandering this time of renewal God has given me? This graced time of Lent? Have I realized that the Days are coming when God wants to write his law of love in my heart?

Jeremiah says “See, the days are coming” in some ways the response to that is found in Jesus words in the Gospel “now the hour has come.” “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” We know now that the way Jesus was glorified was to be lifted on the cross and then to be lifted up again in the glory and wonder of the Resurrection.

Jesus said:  “Now the hour has come

for the Son of Man to be glorified.

I tell you. Most solemnly

unless a wheat grain falls on the ground and dies,

it remains only a single grain;

but if it dies, it yields a rich harvest.”

Last year I happened to end up with several of those “little garden” pots from New World. Every $20 you spent you were given another one. I think they were really to get little children interested in gardening. I was like a little kid and had a whole lot of them. It was hard to think that what looked like a little piece of cardboard, and a couple of tiny dry looking seeds could actually produce flowers and fruit…I had tomatoes and sunflowers, sweet peas and Nasturtiums, kale and beetroot. And cucumber!

We all know that if you open a packet of seeds and find tiny looking withered pieces of matter that for all intents and purposes look dead. We know that if you plant at the right time, weed often, water frequently and have the right amount of sun, you will be blessed with a bumper crop to enjoy and share with family and friends, or to provide colour and scents in the garden.

Could it be that Jesus’ focus on the wheat seed falling to the ground and dying may have actually been on the process it takes to produce the fruit– to diligently prepare the soil, plant, water, weed and constantly tend to the seeds…….in order to produce the wheat!!

During our Lenten renewal, are we willing to be like garden seeds and risk being split apart so that we can renew ourselves and grow into a life rich with abundance to share with others? Are we willing to dedicate ourselves to growing our faith and our relationship with Christ so that we are not squandering God’s grace?

Equally as important, are we willing to let this be the time, let this be the hour for us …for God to nurture us, not by sun and water, but by His never-ending love and his promise to us each and every day?

“See, the days are coming” for God’s grace to enter our hearts.


HOMILY – 4 LENT [B] 2018

I went into a room to get something during the week and then couldn’t remember what I was going to get. I did remember a few minutes later and went back and got it! The situation fitted perfectly something I heard not so long ago – that when older people go into a room, forget what they came for and have to go back later, it’s God’s way of making sure older people get exercise!

But, of course, we all have moments of forgetfulness, and moments of discovery.

Anyone who searches begins with a sense of loss – of not being able to find something, or of knowing something’s missing but perhaps not being able to say exactly what it is. The loss creates a gap that’s quickly filled with darkness. Maybe you’re floundering round over some puzzle or trying to understand someone’s motivation for a certain action… When the answer comes you’re likely to say, How could I not see it? How could I have been so blind?

The biggest loss, the one that hurts the most, is the loss that death creates. A loved one dies and you feel no light could ever pierce the darkness that surrounds and smothers you. The loss of a loved one is, in many ways, the loss of yourself.

People drawn to search for faith do not all search in the dark. Some have light to guide them. They know their life means something; they can see faith in others – and that can often cause them to seek faith for themselves. They know their life could be more fulfilled and they seek a stronger connection with a community of believers. Some seekers have come to recognize the darkness they’ve been living in for the emptiness it really is. They’ve mistaken the dark for light, believing the myth that the more you can make, the more you possess, the more powerful or independent you are, the happier you will be; or, the least responsibility you accept the freer you will be to enjoy life. That’s the cruelest darkness; it lets you pretend.

Nicodemus chose the dark of night to meet with Jesus. He was afraid and embarrassed to be seen with him. But Jesus shared with him the heart of his message -that God so loved the world that he gave his only son – and those who believe in him will have eternal life! Jesus’ mission was not to condemn or destroy but to affirm and build up. He did not come to make us feel guilty but to discover the freedom that forgiveness brings, the joy of friendship and the happiness of working together – being community.

Those who come to faith come along paths unique to themselves, and they join a community equally diverse. But they feel they have arrived home, just like Nicodemus, comfortable with themselves…


The only way to defeat the dark is to become the light. – Walt Disney film: The Wrinkle Line



HOMILY – 3 Lent – John, Chapter 4

Recent storms have literally muddied the waters in parts of Taranaki, making clean water very scarce.  Public interest in the situation rose considerably when the news broke that at least one McDonald’s fast food outlet had to close its doors because of the shortage.  They couldn’t cook the chicken properly!

Water features in today’s readings – chosen especially as part of welcoming the adults who will be baptized at Easter – and emphasis, especially in the gospel is on being thirsty.  The story opens with Jesus admitting his thirst.  God thirsts for us even before we know what our thirst is all about.  The scriptures tell us that God has loved us with an everlasting love but, with the patience of a true lover, waits for us to come to the well.  What we think will satisfy us, meet our needs, make us happy and fulfilled – can never complete us more than our union with God, the source of living water.

In her conversation with Jesus, the woman discovers she is tasting the waters of rebirth, and feeling herself renewed and refreshed she has to tell others.  In the gospels she becomes the first missionary – the first convert.  Come and see the one who told me everything I ever did – who opened my eyes to the emptiness of my life and who filled it up to overflowing with the water of his truth, his love, his peace.  Jesus never gets the drink of water he asked for, but finds his thirst quenched in the woman’s openness to change; and she leaves her water jar behind – her own thirst quenched in in a way she never dreamed.

This story is not just for those preparing for baptism – it’s for all of us who’ve been baptized; a wake-up call to the gift we’ve been given.  If there is still yearning within you for completion; if you still thirst to feel fulfilled, then you should look more closely at the “well” you’re using.  The water may be muddied, even stagnant.  Rediscover the power of the “living water” of your baptism – and let others see what your union with God really means.

Water, whether the lack of it or too much, is always news.  We carry bottles of water to work and to school.  We know its value for life and we happily pay for it.  The only ones happy just now, with water in short supply, are McDonald’s chickens!  When Jesus says the water he brings is a free gift that will flow like a river within you, carrying you to eternal life, why would you not open your heart and drink as deeply as you could?



HOMILY – 2 LENT [B] 2018

Prepare for the unknown!  That was the message behind the early warning given by weather forecasters ahead of this week’s storm.  The advice to clear drains and secure property and be sensible with travel plans, hinted at the potential severity of what was coming.  We didn’t know for certain, but it seemed wise to trust the warnings and be prepared.

There’s an interesting connection here with the dilemma faced by Abraham when he heard the call to kill his only son, Isaac.  He had earlier heard his God promise that Isaac would be the beginning of a vast dynasty, and now this same God was demanding the boy’s life.  Prepare for the unknown, Abraham.  And he did.  He got everything ready, even convincing Isaac that God would provide.  His trust was tested to the extreme.  Some might argue Abraham was reckless, foolhardy – but his faith was enormous and what great image can be imagined for testing it?

The apostles are also challenged to prepare for the unknown.  On the mountain with Jesus they experience the inexplicable and receive a message beyond their understanding.  The change in Jesus’ appearance frightens them to the core of their being; his words about rising from the dead are met with blank stares – they had no idea what he was talking about.

It’s the same with us.  We don’t know what’s ahead in life.  We don’t always see or want to see what’s right in front of us.  We put our own interpretation on events and behaviour and get impatient if we have to wait for answers.  No one can fully prepare for the unknown and sometimes even what is obvious escapes our comprehension.

Lent is a large moment in time to prepare for the unknown, by getting closer to Jesus through prayer and service, and in this way developing a trust that takes the fear out of not knowing.