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SPECIAL REPORT: Plenary Council Members called to ‘Let Go’

Perth Plenary Council Members gathered with friends and family in St Michael The Archangel Chapel after the closing Mass of the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia. Photo: Michelle Tan.

By Jamie O'Brien

Plenary Council President, Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB, spoke from the heart as he delivered his homily at the Perth Closing Mass of the First Assembly on Sunday 10 October, drawing on the richness of the Gospel reading to illustrate Jesus’ desire that we put God first – before the myriad goals that come to occupy so much of our lives, both as individuals and as a Church.

In this Sunday’s Gospel reading, the rich young man, approaches Jesus and puts the question to him, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”

Archbishop Costelloe explained that even though the young man has faithfully kept the commandments, and his fidelity has truly moved Jesus to respond to his question with love, “Jesus says some words to him, that I think he’s saying to each one of us as disciples and to the Church in Australia: ‘There is something you lack’.

Director of The Shopfront and Perth Plenary Member, Mr Damian Walsh proclaims the Second Reading at the closing Mass of the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia. Photo: Michelle Tan.

“All week the Members of the Council have tried, have been trying to identify what it is that we are lacking. What is it that’s stopping us from being the Church that the Lord is calling us to be?” he asked.

“For this man, it is his wealth that is the problem. He couldn’t let go, it was just too much. It was a hurdle too high for him to jump and Jesus wasn’t offering any way around that hurdle: ‘There is one thing you lack, go and sell everything you own and give the money to the poor and then come follow Me’”.

“…The central theme of our Plenary Council, if I could sum it up just a couple of words, is letting go,” Archbishop Costelloe said.

Episcopal Vicar Fr Vincent Glynn elevates the Gospel. Photo: Michelle Tan.

“All three readings, in a way, are about letting go, or perhaps also about letting go in order to let God in. That’s what we’ve been trying to do together this week. And what we will be trying to do, not just as Members of the Plenary Council, but as the whole Church in Australia, over the next nine months leading up to the Second Assembly.”

Archbishop Costelloe continued by explaining that as individuals there will be ambitions, little goals that we have established at the heart of our lives as little gods, and that by doing so, we have pushed the real God out of the way.

“All this week the Members of the Plenary Council have, in a sense, been trying to identify those little goals. And having identified them, we then have to find the courage to let go of them.

“And why?” the Archbishop asked. “In order to put the real God back where the real God belongs.

“How often, as so many of you have heard me say, almost to the point where I think people might be sick of it – but I’m not sick of it – that the great challenge that we face, is to return to the Church to Jesus Christ and return Jesus Christ to the Church.

The Closing Mass was concelebrated by Plenary President Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB, Auxiliary Bishop Donald Sproxton, Vicar General Fr Peter Whitely VG, Episcopal Vicar Fr Vincent Glynn, Fr Michael Moore SM and Fr George Kolodziej SDS. Photo: Michelle Tan.

He continued by saying that we have been reminded during the Council not to make God too small.

“What are the little gods that we put in place of the big God? We have to identify them, listen to each other to discover them, and then have the courage to shift them out of the way so that we can put Jesus back where he belongs at the heart of the Church.

“This is my prayer for all of us, Members of the Council, our families, and friends and communities – the whole Church in Australia. That we have the courage to answer honestly the question, what is it that we make, what is the hurdle that we’re finding it so hard to get over, that is stopping us from running after the Jesus who is striding ahead.”