“We become a sacrament of thepresence of Christ alive…”

21 Jun 2024

By The Record

Archbishop Costelloe elevates the Body of Christ at Ballajura Parish's 30th Anniversary.
Archbishop Costelloe elevates the Body of Christ, with Ballajura Parish Priest Fr John Jegorow elevating the Blood of Christ. Banksia Grove Parish Priest Fr Vinh Dong watches on. Photo: Jamie O’Brien.

In his homily for the 25th anniversary of Mary Mackillop Church and 35th anniversary of Ballajura Parish, Archbishop Timothy Costelloe spoke about our understanding of sacraments.

“…So, sacraments are realities in the life of our Church, which invite us to look more deeply at what is happening.

We have the seven sacraments, as we all know, but the idea of sacraments is bigger than that. The idea of a sacrament is that when you look at a human reality, you see something very important – which is sometimes hidden – is actually taking place. In that sense, I ask you to reflect on the fact that in thinking about it that way, we could think about this parish, as a kind of a sacrament. We look around and there are a lot of people – we’re gathered here to pray, and we’re gathered here to support each other in our faith.

But there’s something much deeper happening as we gather together. We’re not just a group of people. We’re a group of disciples, and we gather together, and especially when we celebrate the Eucharist together, we become – we already are – we become more deeply the body of Christ. We become a sacrament of the presence of Christ alive and at work in this part of the Archdiocese.

I just want to mention three things very briefly that might help us understand just what it is that God is doing in calling us together. It’s well over 50 years ago now that the Second Vatican Council took place, and it was indeed at that Council, that the bishops who gather from all around the world decided to speak of the Church itself as a kind of a sacrament, a sign, and an instrument of two things – of unity with God, and of communion, among all of us people. So, this parish, as a part of the church, is a kind of sacrament. And it’s a sacrament of two things – of the call to be in communion with God. And that’s why this church building is so important. That’s why coming together to celebrate the Eucharist is so important, because that’s where we both experience and deepen our communion with God. But we’re also called to be a sacrament of communion among all God’s people. And that’s why we have to look to each other, and make sure that we recognise in each other person here in the Church tonight, in each other person whose lives we encounter in the journey of our own life, we need to learn to see these people, as our brothers and our sisters, in Christ – we all belong together. We are all dependent on each other. We all need each other. And we’re all responsible for each other. That’s what it is to be a member of the Body of Christ, a member of the community of disciples of Jesus.

The second simple thought – it really is contained in the first one is something that Pope John Paul II once said. He said the best way to describe the church is simply to call it a community of the disciples of Christ. We’re a community, but a community of disciples and whose disciples, are we? We’re the disciples of Jesus Christ. He is the one we follow. He is the one we look to. He is the one who is our guiding light through our lives.

Tonight, I think we’re asked to, in a sense, examine our consciences and say, is that true for me? Is Jesus really the guiding light of my life?

And then the third thing – you’ll be very familiar with it – it is something very beautiful that Pope Francis said very early on in his time as Pope. He said that he likes to think of the Church as a kind of a field hospital. When a wounded soldier is carried into the field hospital, the doctors and nurses don’t first ask him about his cholesterol levels or his blood sugar levels, or any of those things – they heal his wounds. And after they’ve healed his wounds, then they can look at those other things. And then the Pope went on. This is what the church is all about. God has called the Church into being so that it can be a healer of people’s wounds, and then he added, a warmer of people’s hearts. For thirty-five years, how many people have found their wounds healed by coming to this place? For thirty-five years, how many people have found their hearts warmed by coming to this place? Every time someone comes to this parish and finds healing and warmth and hospitality and welcome, the parish is being true to its vocation. So, these are just three simple thoughts that I wanted to offer you and to invite you to reflect on as you look back over the last thirty-five years with gratitude, as you look around you with satisfaction at the present reality in this parish, and as you look to the future with hope.

You are called to be living sign of communion with God, and the unity among yourselves. You’re called to show by the way you live and work and walk and talk, that you are truly disciples of Jesus.”