Tag Archives: Homily



HOMILY – 2 EASTER 2017                                             [John 20:19-31]

During this Easter week I visited my 98 year old aunt in Auckland.  She is the last of my parents’ generation and though frail still lives in her own home.  While with her, the parish visitor came for her weekly visit, bringing Communion.  When the visitor realised I was there, she suggested I should lead the service, but I declined and sat with my aunt as her sister parishioner shared the Eucharist with her.  It was a privileged experience and opened my eyes to a fresh appreciation of the presence of Jesus.

The visitor and my aunt obviously knew each other very well.  They met often, they have a shared history of parish life, their faith means the world to them, and their devotion to the Eucharist is profound and moving.  If I had led the service, there would have been a different formality, and an absence of what the familiar visitor contributed.

I participated in the service from the side line.  There was delight in the arrival of the visiting friend and a loving warmth as they greeted each other.  I listened as the gospel of the day was read and was aware of its message connecting our small gathering with the faith of generations.  There was time and a felt need to pray for others, especially the sick and lonely; and then there was great reverence as the Bread of Life was held and given and received

I could not have witnessed a better example of what it means to be “Church” and realised this experience was an almost exact replica of what is spelled out for us in today’s Eucharist.   The first Christian communities were characterised as groups faithful to the teaching of the apostles, to the sharing of their lives with one another, to the breaking of bread and to the prayers.  I experienced this in my aunt’s home and was reminded that this is what I am meant to witness in every Eucharist – what you and I should be experiencing at this very moment, in this gathering:

  • We come, faithful to the teaching of the apostles as proclaimed to us in the readings;
  • We have an awareness of being together, a certain unity among us;
  • We are part of the Breaking of Bread, and our prayers join us to those not here, to the sick, the troubled, the departed…

Mercy makes sense in this context, for it crowns the resurrection of Jesus with the celebration of the purpose of Christ’s coming: to heal, to bring about a wholeness in people – a wholeness and confidence that would catapult them into people’s lives and into history. The 2nd Sunday of Easter is so aptly named, Divine Mercy Sunday.

As the Father sent me, so am I sending you!  (Gospel) – to be messengers of peace, messengers of mercy.

I witnessed that message being delivered in the visit with my aunt.  It is the message we must carry with us at all times, to all places, to everyone.  It is the message that announces the presence of Jesus in the most positive and endearing way.

Homily – Cardinal John Dew 15 April 2017 Easter Vigil

Easter Vigil, 2017

Yesterday, the Cross was carried into the Cathedral and three times Father James sang “Behold the wood of the cross on which hung the Savior of the world.”  Three times we responded, “Come let us worship.” It seemed that all was darkness, Jesus had died and all was darkness. We could have easily gone into despair at the words of Jesus “It is accomplished……and bowing his head he gave up his Spirit.” Maybe we identified with the despair of Mary His Mother as she saw Jesus nailed, beaten, mocked, ridiculed and dead on a cross…she would certainly have been in darkness.

This Liturgy started in darkness ……….. then we lit a fire and three times heard the words “The Light of Christ’ and we again made three responses “Thanks be to God.”

Someone by the name of Tom Shepard, I don’t know who he is, in writing about Easter said, “When I was a child, the Easter Vigil was a profound event for me. I didn’t know what was going on, but I did know they were doing everything I liked. They were playing with fire. They were playing with water. They were saying things I didn’t understand. He was blowing on the water. He was splashing the water on people. The air was full of smoke. It was dark and it was scary. It was everything that I loved.”

 Tonight is everything that we love…not just playing with fire and water, or smoke billowing all over the Church, all of those and many other things tonight are deeply symbolic and have a profound impact if we are ready to experience them deeply. The last few days have given us many powerful symbols, symbols that speak to our imagination and move our hearts.

This Easter Vigil tells the story of our salvation, the story of coming out of darkness into light. That’s our story – the first words of the Bible  “God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was a formless void, there was darkness over the deep…..

That was the beginning of creation, now the Rising of Jesus from the grave gives us a new creation…….we are new people who live in the light,

It was DARK for Jesus too, not just an absence of light, but the darkness of despair, his friends had all left him and now it seemed like God had deserted him too.       Remember the Passion Story from last Sunday, Palm Sunday – from St Matthew’s Gospel: “From the 6th hour there was darkness over all the land …….at about the 9th hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘My God, My God, why have you deserted me?”

Naturally life will seem dark for us at times, however we can never stay in the darkness “Do not be afraid! I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said.”

As this Easter candle was lit I prayed…….“May the light of Christ, rising in glory, dispel the darkness of our minds and hearts.”

Then the light began to spread bit by bit. Light slowly spread through the Cathedral, a beautiful soft light of flickering candles, the Light of Christ began to spread over the darkness, and slowly to give us the message that it is no longer dark. We cannot live in darkness or despair. Christ is with us, risen from the dead and will never leave us.

This is the night….. said the great Hymn of Easter Praise

We pray that this candle, hallowed by the honour of your name, may persevere undimmed, to overturn the darkness of this night. May this flame be found still burning by the Morning Star

Will this light be found still burning in our hearts? Actually, this light will go out.  But at our Baptism we were given a Baptismal Candle- as will these people tonight be gifted with light hearing the words “Receive the Light of Christ…”

We take the Light of Christ with us wherever we go, especially to our homes and families?

Every year at the Mass of Chrism I am moved by the final prayer which says;  “Become the pleasing fragrance of Christ…” referring of course to the perfumed Chrism we are anointed with at Baptism, Confirmation and for we priest in Holy Orders.

“Become the pleasing fragrance of Christ…” we are that every day and in every situation. Every day we are also Christ’s light to others.  There is a well known quotation of St Catherine of Sienna: “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.”

God means you and I to be the light of the Risen Jesus to the world around us.

Homily – Cardinal John Dew 11 April 2017 Chrism Mass

Homily Chrism Mass 2017

Several years ago one of our Bishops said to Saint Pope John Paul II, “Holy Father I would not want your job for all the money in the world.” The Pope looked up and said “It’s a privilege.”

One of the great privileges, and humbling things for me to do is to lead the renewal of Priestly Promises every year at this Chrism Mass,  it moves my heart every year.

Today a number of priests gathered for a day of prayer in preparation for this Mass and Renewal of Priestly promises.  In a time of sharing several of them spoke of how privileged we are to minister:

Privileged to say take communion to the sick, to live in the service of the Gospel.  Privileged to say “This is my Body”, “I absolve you from your sins.”  I have know that one of the other great privileges we have as priests is to celebrate Baptisms.

Last Saturday I baptised two babies.  As I anointed them with the Oil of Catechumens and with Chrism I wondered about how many times these oils had been used for Baptism since they were blessed and consecrated at the Chrism Mass a year ago.  Chrism was used many times for Baptisms and Confirmations, but not for any  Ordinations last year. This year’s Chrism will be used in 3 weeks’ time when Cirilo Barlis will be Ordained to the Priesthood.

I wonder what will happen to those two babies baptised last Saturday.  Will they grow up knowing that on a day in April in 2017 the Mystery of the Trinity took life in them?  Will they grow up seeing the light of God on faces of their fellow baptised?  Will people see the light of God on and in their faces?  Will they know that because of baptism they share a deep and profound union with every one of us, with everyone who is baptised?

Do we, the baptised, know that others are part of us?  Do we who share the same Spirit of God look to see what is positive in others and welcome and prize them as Gifts from God? Do we make room for others, share their joys and sufferings, attend to their needs and actually think of the fact, that through the goodness of God and the miracle of grace we are in communion with God and with one another. If we do see that we know we are privileged and deeply blessed.

I hope those two children grow up knowing that they belong to the community of the church, that they live in communion with God and one another.  I hope we all know that. For we priests our ordinations actually came out of our Baptism, priesthood is the way we responded to our Baptismal call

This year I have called for a Synod.  A Synod is about journeying together, listening to one another, and helping one another to respond to the call of the Gospel. Our last Synod had the theme “Salt and Light together.”

We are an extraordinary assembly of people who journey together, supporting each other.  People of all ages, of many nationalities, many different ways of praying   – but we are – though Baptism – one people.  Whether we were baptised and anointed in India, Ireland, New Zealand or England, Samoa or the Philippines, Sri Lanka or Canada, Peru or Fiji – wherever – We are Salt and Light together.  Whether it live in Westport or Masterton, Otaki, Kaikoura, Wellington or Upper Hutt – we are “Salt and Light together.”

This year’s Synod theme is “Go, You are Sent”.  We are sent to the world around us, charged to take Jesus with us – we are sent together to be salt and light for the world.

Jesus announced in tonight’s Gospel that the Spirit of the Lord had been given to Him, the Spirit of the Lord had anointed him. The same happened to us  – God’s Spirit anointed us, wherever and whenever we were baptised.  At Baptism and at Confirmation we were anointed; and for some of us we were also anointed and sent at the time of our ordination.

We were anointed and sent to bring good news to the poor,

to proclaim liberty to captives,

to give new sight to the blind,

to set the downtrodden free,

to proclaim the Lord’s year of favour.

We are sent out.

We will reflect prayerfull and intensely this year on that Synod theme “Go you are sent.”

I want and I invite as many people as possible to participate in this years’ Synod.  350 people will attend the weekend in September, but thousands are able to participate in the prayerful listening process preparing for the Synod.  I hope that thousands of people will pray too.  I want you to do that because we are a people together.

At our baptisms, as for those two babies last Saturday, these words were prayed:  “As Christ was anointed Priest, Prophet and King, so may you live always as a member of his body.”  We do live as members of his body when we take seriously the fact that we are chosen and anointed to go out.

In 2009 I took a photo of an old man ouside a railway station in Paris. He was a beggar – I assume that he had nothing. I look at that photo often and I have used it many times when I quote some words of Pope Benedict who said: ”Unless this Eucharist passes over into concrete acts of love it is intrinsically fragmented.”  Our Eucharist does not end in our Churches.

We are sent out from every Mass to take Christ with us. Please help the Church of the Archdiocese of Wellington to make a difference in our world. Please pray that every single one of us will hear those words “Go, you are sent,”and that as we go we will do as Pope Francis encouraged us: Let us sing as we go. May our struggles and our concerns never take away the joy of our hope.”

We are able to go in joy and in hope from every Mass, because called and anointed in Baptism, in Confirmation and for us in Holy Orders…it is a privilege.

Homily – Cardinal John Dew (Passion Sunday 9 April 2017)

Passion Sunday 2017

A few weeks  ago I saw the wonderful film “Hidden Figures” the story of three black women  – brilliant mathematicians – who worked at NASA – they were treated terribly and unjustly,  A – because they were women,  B – because they were black. They truly were hidden figures in the great adventure of conquering space and sending the first humans to the moon.

In recent years, two books were published:

Forgotten Voices of the Great War, and Forgotten Voices of the Second World War.

Sometimes in the Gospels there are hidden figures and forgotten voices. In these days of Holy Week we will hear proclaimed again the story of the trial and execution of Jesus. How can we hear something new in the Passion stories as we listen this week? It may be that there are voices in these accounts of Jesus’s trial and crucifixion which we have not heard before, or words we have never listened to attentively.

There are many voices to listen to …..

The voice of Jesus is not really hidden or forgotten. He speaks to his disciples after one of them has struck a servant of the high priest with his sword.  ‘Put your sword back; for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father who would promptly send more than twelve legions of angels to my defence?’

Remember this is the voice of the one who preached the Sermon on the Mount. There he said, ‘Do not resist an evildoer’. This is the voice of a teacher who is serious about what he teaches.

He also speaks of the very close relationship he has with the Father. ‘No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son.”  Remember too he has taught us to address our prayer to the same Father.

The voice of Jesus spoke of twelve legions of angels, now one of his own twelve disciples has used a sword; …go back to the Temptations of Jesus on the First Sunday of Lent…he refused the help of angels …… he does the same now and remains faithful to what he had earlier prayed; ‘Father, Let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.’

There is the Voice of Pilate’s Wife “Now as he was seated in the chair of judgement, his wife sent him a message, “Have nothing to do with that man; I have been upset by a dream, I had about”  

Pilate’s wife sent her husband a message as he sat on the judgment seat. This is an ironical situation. The one who was to judge the world stands and waits for the verdict of a minor Roman official.

Her voice reminds us not to neglect the minor figures of the gospels, those who appear fleetingly and then withdraw back into obscurity. Some are Jews, some are Gentiles; some male – some female; some are slaves – some free: each of them has something to tell us about how we live as followers of Jesus.. Pilate’s wife is one of them.

She calls Jesus ‘that innocent man’;  ‘that just man’, it’s the voice of an obscure woman reminding us of goodness and truth.

The Voice of the Centurion and Those with Him   “Meanwhile the centurion together with those who were guarding Jesus, had seen the earthquake and all that was taking place, and they were terrified and said, ‘In truth this was a son of God.”.

The centurion’s voice was also unexpected, It’s not just one voice – but several…….others joined the centurion him in professing who Jesus was. Remember Peter, the Rock, confessed Jesus as Son of the Living God and then denied him. The voice of these soldiers teaches us about true conversion. Not only had they killed Jesus, they had dressed him in a purple robe, put a crown of thorns on his head, and knelt before him in mockery. Now they repent totally, and kneel before him in awe. We learn from their voices too.

In this Holy Week, there are many voices to listen to …..we pray that we can listen for the voices we will hear in these Passion stories..that we will listen and learn.



HOMILY – 5 LENT [A] 2017        [John 11:1-45]

Come out!  Jesus calls to Lazarus and life returns to claim the dead man from the grave.  Lazarus walks into the light and into the embrace of his family.  Come out!  It’s an ambiguous expression in our present Western society.  Come out for a walk.  Come out with me. Come out where I can see you.  These are common enough.

But “come out” or “coming out” now includes revealing your sexual identity. Those who for a long time, perhaps even a lifetime, have hidden their awareness of being different, are encouraged to “come out” into the full light of society and take ownership of the person they really are – not necessarily the person others thought they were or expected them to be.

The result is that many men and women are living more comfortably with themselves, and feeling less alien in day-to-day interaction with people generally.  Now gender equality and pressure to allow same-sex marriage are global issues.  The morality of these developments is exercising the minds of theologians, but the pastoral implications call for an altogether different approach.

Pope Francis is leading the way by pointing out that no one is to be judged for who they are.  He expects his priests to be ministers of compassion and mercy.  And, as a priest, I ask the same of the people I serve.  We are not in the business of condemnation; our role as Christians is to recognise the God-image in each person before we see anything else.

Our 21 century society is experience enormous change and change always brings turmoil and confusion as various factions struggle to find their place in the emerging newness.  The Church is part of society and cannot expect to escape the upheaval.

Those preparing for initiation as Catholic Christians need to understand that this is the path we travel: holding fast to the truth of Jesus and trying our best to live by that truth.  Weakness will appear, failure will happen, but the love of God in Jesus will carry us through, provided we keep travelling together, supporting one another by accepting the differences between us; loving, not judging; caring, not avoiding; and listening, that we might hear the pain and distress that affects us all, in order that we might bring that suffering into the light and bless it with life.

Come out! Jesus calls – not only Lazarus, but every person.  Come out and be seen.  Be proud of who you are.  Be present to one another.  Live your dignity with the confidence that you have been called.  So what, if you don’t agree with everyone, their opinions or their lifestyle!  Be assured that everyone has a part to play.

As a Christian you have been embraced by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Embrace it is return, with thanksgiving in your heart; and watch the turmoil cease as your heart finds peace.