Agency staff called to reflect on discipleship and Jesus’ high standards for us
Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB reminded agency workers present that being disciples of Christ is both a vocation and privilege. The annual Agencies Mass was held at St Mary’s Cathedral on the morning of Thursday 2 July. Photo: Matthew Lau.
By Amanda Murthy
Dedicated staff of the Archdiocese of Perth gathered to pray, praise and connect through their common mission in serving the Catholic community of Perth during the annual Agencies Mass on Thursday 2 July at St Mary’s Cathedral.
Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB celebrated the Mass and was joined by Fr Brian McKenna, Vicar for Clergy, Fr Vincent Glynn, Vicar for Education and Faith Formation, Rev Dr Sean Fernandez, Dean of St Mary’s Cathedral, Fr Nino Vinciguerra, Co-ordinator - Parish Renewal, Fr Sebastian Fernando, Aboriginal Catholic Ministry Chaplain and Permanent Deacon Paul Reid, Caritas Diocesan Director.
Archbishop Costelloe was joined for the annual Archdiocesan Agencies Mass by concelebrants Fr Sean Fernandez, Fr Sebastian Fernando, Fr Brian McKenna, Fr Vincent Glynn, and Permanent Deacon Paul Reid. Photo: Matthew Lau.
During his homily for the Mass, Archbishop Costelloe reminded those present of their vital role as part of the ongoing mission of the Church.
“In the long history of the Church, there has often arisen the temptation to try and create what we might call ‘a Church of the perfect’,” Archbishop Costelloe remarked.
“This temptation is easy to understand, after all, Jesus does set a high standard for us to reach.”
Jesus’ call to love one another with the same intensity of love with which He loves us, Archbishop Costelloe added, was an example of the high standard He set for His disciples
“This is a love which is totally focussed on the other rather than on ourselves. It is a love which is prepared to give everything, even to the point of death. It is a love which holds nothing back,” he cited.
The Perth Archbishop explained that to love with the perfect love of Jesus would also require us to be “ready to forgive no matter how badly or how often someone hurts us”.
“He calls us to love our enemies, to pray for those who persecute us, to walk two miles with someone when they have asked us only to walk one mile, to give someone our cloak when they have asked us only to give them our tunic.
“It is like asking us to give someone the shirt off our back! And the list goes on and on…
“Jesus, we might say, asks us to do the impossible or, as He expresses it, to be perfect just as our Heavenly Father is perfect,” he added.
The Aboriginal Catholic Ministry community joined many Archdiocesan staff members at St Mary’s Cathedral for the annual Agencies Mass on Thursday 2 July. Photo: Matthew Lau.
Although it may be “tempting” to “get rid” of those who do not measure up to Jesus’ standards, Archbishop Costelloe stressed that the decision, is not ours to make.
“[Jesus makes it very clear in His teachings] that the good and the evil, the beautiful and the ugly, the perfect and the imperfect, are so closely entwined together in the life of the Church that in our efforts to remove the less than perfect from the Church we might find ourselves inadvertently also removing much that is good in the Church.
“None of this, of course, is to suggest that we should simply sit back and allow evil to flourish in the Church because God will bring everything right in the end.
“But what this does suggest is that, in tackling evil in the Church, we must do so in communion with the mind and heart of Jesus – and to do this we will need to know Him more fully and love Him more truly than many of us perhaps do at the moment,” he added.
About 120 employees gathered at St Mary’s Cathedral on 2 July at 9.30am for the Archdiocesan Agencies Mass. This year, the morning tea gathering after Mass was cancelled because of social distancing restrictions still in place, due to COVID-19. Photo: Matthew Lau.
In serving the Perth Catholic community, Archbishop Costelloe urged those present to approach the mission entrusted to them reflect the face of Christ to everyone they meet, regardless of personal feelings towards them or judgements about them.
“This includes both those we seek to serve and those who seek to serve with us - our brothers and sisters in the Church’s mission.”
Reinstating the words of Pope Francis: “Jesus is the face of the Father’s mercy”, Archbishop Costelloe concluded his message, with a poignant reminder to those present.
“The judgement is not for us to make, the condemnation is certainly not for us to pronounce, the rejection is not for us to enact.
“Rather, it is both our vocation and our privilege, as disciples of Jesus called to mission in the Church today, to be the signs and bearers of the compassion, the mercy, the hospitality and the large-heartedness of Christ to all those we encounter in anyway.”