Category Archives: Homilies



HOMILY – 1 LENT [B] 2018

The Winter Olympics in South Korea is the current sporting phenomenon.  The Commonwealth Games in Queensland will be up next.  Back home, the Halberg Awards last week championed local high achievers in various sporting codes.  We admire the talent and applaud the commitment and discipline that gets people to the top of their game.  We know that success in any area of life does not come easy and is never guaranteed.

With this in mind we place ourselves once again in the arena of Lent – the training camp for Christian life.  There are six weeks ahead of us, offering space and opportunity to toughen up our spiritual lives, to become stronger and more reliable witnesses of the faith we profess.  The strength of one contributes to the strength of all.  Our whole community stands to benefit from each of us putting serious effort into this season of Lent.

Today’s readings evoke the image of baptism, the water that washed us in the name of our God and the promise of God to stay with us.  The desert experience of Jesus readies him for mission while reminding us not to forget or neglect the waters of life.  The training camp of Lent invites us to take the plunge anew and immerse ourselves in the mission to bring the healing that comes with forgiveness, peace, joy and hope into our world.

That’s what I ask you to occupy yourself with over these six weeks.  Begin the process now.  We’ll give ourselves four separate spaces, silently reflecting on how we might prepare ourselves to bring:  forgiveness, peace, joy, hope…

Forgiveness…  How good am I at forgiving?  What would make me better?

Peace…  What sort of peacemaker am I?  How might I improve?

Joy…  What joy do I feel in my life?  How can I bring joy into someone’s life?

Hope…  what do I find most hopeful about life?  How can I hold and share that hope?                                                                              God Bless our Lent!



HOMILY – 5th SUNDAY [B] 2018            [Job 7:1-4,6-7; Mark 1:29-39]

After all the hot weather of past weeks, a weather report announcing a depression settling over the country bringing lots of rain was very welcome.  Getting the tail end of a cyclone as well, was a bit too much!

But there’s a “Depression” we dare not welcome – the kind that is already among us, attacking healthy bodies, personalities and whole families.  This depression that has so many people on medication has been defined as a silent killer, the slow erosion of self. Today’s Dom/P front page – mental health services crumbling under enormous demand.  –  A person wrote of depression that, “It corners you at night or when you’re all alone and slowly eats away at any shred of happiness it can find.”

The cry of Job [1st Reading] is from one very depressed person.  Grief and sadness is all that he knows and laments, my life is but a breath, and my eyes will never again see joy.  You probably know someone like that, perhaps more than one: people who can see nothing but problems, who have nothing good to say about anyone, or who feel they have nothing to show for their life…

Another recent news item told of people who use public transport as though there was no one else with them.  A crowded bus in total silence.  No conversation, no eye contact, sitting so as not to touch the person next to you!  Headphones and cell phones signalling “keep away and don’t disturb me”!  The article suggested that, while we might be quite comfortable in that situation, isolating ourselves and block out awareness of others, could affect the ability to socialise and contribute to depression. – Yesterday (Saturday) the Pastoral Council and Parish Leadership team met to explore ways to encourage community growth during this year. Last year’s Archdiocesan Synod provided plenty of material, echoing Pope Francis’ call

to move outside the known and the comfortable, to take the message of the gospel into our social networks, people we work with and the society of which we are a part.  Our PPC has picked up on this and will assist the parish to develop a spirituality of service which will make possible a “reaching out” by individual parishioners – you and I – to bring others an appreciation of Christ.

As New Zealand continues towards becoming the most secular country, as individual rights become less and less linked to personal responsibility, as faith-based education gets swallowed up in a climate favouring no religion, the gospel message is either politely ignored or openly ridiculed.

People crowded round Jesus when they heard how he welcomed people, bringing healing to their lives through his listening ear and gentle touch.  They couldn’t get enough of him because he gave everyone a sense of being valued, of having something to offer.  Depression can’t defeat such an attitude.

Two Sunday’s ago, I mentioned the British Parliament’s initiative in setting up a Ministry of Loneliness – one of the primary sources of depression.  In the current euthanasia debate, we should not be surprised to see loneliness feature as an incentive driving people to want their life to end.  Our PPC aims to equip each of with the incentive to turn the tables, by being proactive in helping people feel good about themselves, wanted for themselves.

The newsletter item inviting your involvement in assisting a new group of refugees settle among us, is a most practical way of beginning that process.  Jesus came that we may have life.  There should be no “Jobs” among us, feeling they’re on the scrapheap!  We are children of a loving, merciful God who wants nothing but our happiness.  Live that belief and see the difference.



HOMILY – 3rd Sunday [B] – 2018                       [Jonah 3:1-5,10; Mark 1:14-20]

As a society, New Zealanders are worried about the high rate of suicide, notably among our youth – but also among farmers facing economic ruin.  How terrible to judge the only way out of your trouble is to kill yourself. Historically, society has regarded suicide as an offence against the community, emphasising no one has the right to decide when and how to end their life.

David Seymour’s “End of Life Choice Bill” now before Parliament and the public, lifts dying to another level.  It tells me that I do have a right to decide when I will die and, if I can’t make it happen on my own then I will also have a right to get someone else to help me.  But that person will have to be a “medical practitioner”, someone who has spent years training to be able to help me live.  Conflict of interest and of conscience meet in a state sponsored Bill that, if passed, will allow that medical practitioner to intentionally kill me.

With my permission, of course!  But how that permission is obtained, and how competent I might be to give my permission are very murky areas.  And should society be encouraging its members to drop out when the going gets too tough?  The proponents of the End of Life Choice Bill, are no doubt well intentioned, providing for a situation where a person can ask to have their death hastened when their suffering becomes intolerable.  But need it be?

An unexpected news item this week announced the appointment by the British government of a “Minister for Loneliness”.  It’s in response to a report finding that as many as nine million Britons are often or always lonely.  NZ has no plans to do anything similar – but think what loneliness does to a person: it cuts you off, isolates you, affects your identity, you’re in the way, valueless.

The elderly left and forgotten in a Rest Home; the disabled or deeply troubled, left to fend for themselves…  Without family, friends, or any quality company; when you can’t see more to life, it would be so easy to choose to die; with no one to help you understand your sickness, live with you through it, or help you harness it and make it work for you, then why wouldn’t you ask for help to die?

I have been with many people struggling with the news that there is no treatment for their sickness, and I have witnessed remarkable transformations as people seemingly without hope have responded to the care of those committed to helping them see more to life make the most of remaining time.

The Hospice Movement is an essential component of this kind of care, offering not only pain relief, but emotional, personal and spiritual support to every member of the family – ensuring the sick person can live well until death.  We should be taking loneliness more seriously.  I’m sure it features in making the end of life feel like the only choice.  Great public education and more resources in hospice care could make the End of Life Choice Bill unnecessary.

If we’re worried about suicide, we should be even more worried about everyone having a legal right to decide when they will die.  Over time such a right will become easy to manipulate and difficult to control.

Jonah was sent on a mission to help the people of Nineveh turn their lives around – to see more than self, and recover their sense of community.  Jesus called his first followers to a similar mission.  As fisherfolk they knew the importance of working together; they were to put those skills into building a community where the care of one another took priority.

To care is to love, and everyone responds to genuine, unselfish love – especially the sick, even someone who seems to be beyond reach, unresponsive.  None of us really wants to die.  Love helps us live beyond death.



HOMILY – 2nd SUNDAY OT [B] – 14 January 2018               [John 1:35-42]

Yesterday saw the second wedding this year in our cathedral.  Two more people answered the call to love and made a public commitment to be together till death.  The day was glorious, the smiles genuine, the excitement tangible and the bride beautiful.  A truly happy occasion.  Everything you would expect on a wedding day.

But no one expects things to stay that way.  Life challenges love with its unpredictable twists and turns.  Joy can become sadness in a moment; worry and pain can quickly erase the memory of peace and laughter.

When we travel the road of love we must be prepared for hurt on the journey; disappointment and setback.  Love is demanding and can sometimes appear to take more than it gives.  Love survives and makes sense only when it’s a shared love, not a self-centred love.

I began with the example of marriage, but it is the same for every relationship.

The first disciples of Jesus were attracted to him after hearing the witness of John [today’s gospel].  Where do you live?  Come and see!  So began a relationship not unlike any that you or I might experience.  The love that grows from a first meeting will determine the strength and endurance of the connection.  But, whether that love leads to discipleship, marriage or a deep friendship, it will not be without challenge.

Samuel [first reading] hears a voice calling his name, but needs time and help to identify it.  This uncertainty is also part of the process that guides each of us on the journey of self-discovery.  Who or what is calling me on, laying claim to me, urging me to find my complete self through this outside connection?

Take some time this week to consider your own journey:

Were you ever aware of any “call”?  It may not have been a voice, but perhaps a feeling, a sense that you were meant to go in a particular direction.  Did it lead to love, to a commitment that has brought or is bringing you to a place of personal fulfilment?  And what has challenged your love?  An illness?  A tragic loss?  Depression?  Redundancy? Aging?

How have you coped with setback?  Has it caused you to question love?  What supported you in the dark times?  How do you view love now?

St Paul [2nd reading] reminds us we are not our own property.  We belong to the Body of Christ, and we follow the crucified Jesus, the one who wove love and suffering into one basket, making visible the mystery that so many people are still not able to accept.

A father, grieving the loss of his son in a motor accident, shouted out his anger and pain at the funeral, saying, if I hadn’t loved him I wouldn’t have this sadness!!  The support we give one another, especially to those hurting or doubting, is crucial for love to survive.

Our inner being calls us to find and cling to love, for we cannot live without love.  Yet love is not easily tamed and brings its own demands.  There are consequences to loving that sometimes carry very difficult questions.  One of them relates to the current public debate on euthanasia – and that’s the theme I would like to address next week.


Midnight Mass 2017 Homily – Cardinal John Dew

Christmas 2017

Do you have a Christmas heart?

A few days ago, I prayed with a meditation which was written for people with Christmas hearts.  It said, “these are songs to be sung in today’s over commercialised world, they are to help people to remember WHO Christmas is.” Jesus Christ is not a written text or an abstract idea, Jesu sis a living person.

A few weeks ago, I posted on my Facebook page a photograph of a life-sized Nativity scene in a supermarket at Petone.  I was astounded at the number of people who saw that Facebook post.  Thousands of people saw it, dozens of people commented on it. They made comments such as –

  • it’s good to remember WHAT Christmas is all about”,
  • “it’s time to think about WHAT we are celebrating”,
  • “it’s time to stop and think WHY we do all these things.

We could reflect on Christmas in terms of WHAT or WHY – but it is more important to reflect on WHO Christmas is.

In the very first homily Pope Benedict gave as Pope he said, “each of us is a result of a thought of God, each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary.  There is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel, to be surprised by the encounter with Christ.”

That means being surprised by WHO not a what or a why.  The WHO is Jesus – Jesus born at Nazareth.  We are surprised when we meet Jesus.  We meet, we encounter Christ tonight.

Pope Benedict also once said “being a Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with a person which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.”

When we meet Jesus, when we hear his words and try to live by those words our life is given a new horizon and a decisive direction.

It is usually easy to relate to babies – like all babies Jesus grew up. That means we don’t spend our life relating to the baby Jesus, we spend our lives listening to the adult Jesus who speaks to us, who lived, who died, who was crucified and rose again.

However, this night, this day is to remember when the mystery of God’s presence in our world began. St Paul, in his letter to Titus reminded us that God’s grace has been revealed, made known to us through Jesus born into our world.  God’s grace, God’s kindness has made salvation possible for the whole human race.  God’s grace did not make a WHAT or WHY known, God’s goodness and kindness made a person known, Jesus.  “Today a Saviour has been born to you, he is Christ the Lord.”

In one of his first Angelus messages after being elected Pope Francis was talking about the love of God.  He said “the one who sows love in our hearts is God.  But what is God’s love?  It’s not something vague, some generic feeling.  God’s love has a name and a face, Jesus Christ.  Jesus, love for God is shown to us in Jesus.” Do we know Jesus who has a name and a face?

My greatest wish and prayer for you, for each of us this Christmas, is that we will carry Christmas in our hearts, that we will carry Jesus in our hearts, and like God be kind to each other.

One of those of meditations which prompted me to reflect on Who Christmas is said

“more than anything else

I want to give you Christmas this year,

it’s a gift

an offer. 

You can take it,

if you like,

but I can’t really give it to you

like a wrapped-up package,

it’s deeper than that.

It is warmer, brighter, lighter,

it is more personal. 

Christmas is more challenging

than a wrapped-up package

it is an offer,

it is a mystery,

it is birth,

it is hope,

it is Christmas

and God can never be born enough.”

God can never be born enough in our world….you and I bring Jesus to life.

God could be born a thousand thousand times in Bethlehem but if he is not born in our hearts it would all be a waste of time.

Christmas is about who came to live in our world, about who continues to come and be born in our hearts.

“Today a Saviour has been born to you he is Christ the Lord.”