Apostolic Nuncio visits Perth for the first time and encourages its faithful to stay committed to God for a hopeful future

30 Jun 2022

By Michelle Tan

Archbishop Balvo lifts the Eucharist next to Archbishop Costelloe lifting the Chalice.
Archbishop Balvo celebrated the 11am Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral on 26 June 2022, alongside Archbishop Costelloe and Cathedral priests. Photo: Michelle Tan.

Apostolic Nuncio to Australia Archbishop Charles Balvo has visited the Archdiocese of Perth and Western Australia for the first time since his appointment earlier this year.

Archbishop Balvo is traveling around Australia to meet with Catholics from all the different walks of life.

He was welcomed by Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB who said, “we are very grateful that you are able to come and spend some time with us and we hope you feel at home here.”

Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB welcomes Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Charles Balvo to Perth. Photo: Ron Tan.

Speaking to a packed Cathedral on Sunday 26 June for the 11am Mass, His Excellency Archbishop Balvo commented that St Mary’s Cathedral was beautiful and luminous with so much natural light and that he was fascinated by the electronic pulpit.

“I have never seen before that you can raise the whole (lectern), up and down, I could play with it, you know, like a little child,” he chuckled, drawing warm laughter from the congregation.

Archbishop Balvo chuckles as he talks about his fascination with the electric pulpit in St Mary’s Cathedral. to Perth. Photo: Ron Tan.

Archbishop Balvo shared that during the 35 years in which he has worked in the diplomatic service of the Holy See, he has spent three years in Amman,  as well as having had the opportunity to go to Jerusalem on a number of occasions.

Those trips to Jerusalem, he highlighted, reminded him of Psalm 122.

“I rejoiced when they said to me, let us go up to the House of the Lord. And now our feet are standing within your gates, O Jerusalem.”

“Jerusalem was the city of the Holy of Holies, the place of encounter with God. It was a unique place and still is a unique place. Jewish families like that of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, as recounted in the Gospel of Luke, they regularly went up to Jerusalem on pilgrimage.”

“In today’s Gospel, Jesus was determined to journey to Jerusalem and this was a decisive moment in His life. It is where He begins His last journey to Jerusalem, the city of the prophets, the holy city, the place in which the great and redemptive event would take place of His suffering, His death, and then His resurrection, which is that saving event for us.”

“It is in Jerusalem where the Apostles and the Blessed Virgin received the gift of the Holy Spirit. It is also from Jerusalem, that the Gospel goes out to all of the world, to all of the corners of the earth. This teaches us that we should focus attention on the commitment that has to be made” – a commitment to be a disciple of Jesus and to embark on the mission of preaching the Gospel.

Archbishop Balvo meets and greets members of the congregation after the 11am Mass. Photo: Ron Tan.

Archbishop Balvo shared that there were two points that stood out.

“The first is the fact that the Word of God will not always be favourably received. The second point is that the difficulties experienced in the mission of preaching the Gospel can be discouraging and can tempt one to look back toward the past rather than forward to the future.”

“We know from our experience that people are often inclined to stay with what is familiar even if it’s difficult and negative, rather than to take a risk for the future. The Gospel points out that Jesus resolutely determined to go to Jerusalem even though He knew that this would mean His eventual suffering and death. But then these will be followed by His rising from the dead because in Christ, life triumphs over death.”

“This same message, this same reality is valid for us. We have responded to the call of Jesus to follow Him. We have accepted the kingdom and the mission to preach the Gospel. So there can be no looking back to the life that we gave up – a life of slavery to selfishness and to sin.”

“We have known God’s grace, a new life given to us in the sacraments, so we don’t want to return to whatever life we had before that. Like Jesus, we are called to make the resolute decision and the firm commitment to give witness to the Gospel, not to look back at what was, but to look forward with confidence to what can be.”

“In the year 2025. There will be another Holy Year. And of this, Pope Francis said, we must fan the flame of hope that has been given us and help everyone to gain new strength and certainty by looking to the future with an open spirit, a trusting heart and a farsighted vision.”

Watch the Archbishop’s full homily.