HEART AND MIND - €œSaints €“ the Incarnation of Jesus"

Even though Pope Benedict XVI canonised St Mary of the Cross MacKillop in Rome on the 17th of October this year it is still very fresh in our minds and hearts.

As we reflect on the life of St Mary of the Cross we see how she connected to a variety of people. Her relationships extended beyond family and the Church to Jews and Protestants. In fact we know the Jewish family of Emanuel Solomon and a Protestant woman Joanna Barr-Smith were very close and supportive friends. She still connects to people around Australia, New Zealand, Scotland, Ireland, Peru, Timor Leste and goodness knows where. She connects us, I believe, very much to the feast of Christmas.

Some years ago Pope Benedict XVI received a group of first Communicants at St Peter'€™s and chattered with them. They were free enough to ask him their questions. One lad said '€œIf God is real, why can'€™t you see him?'€ The Pope chuckled and with his typical gentle smile said '€œWell you can'€™t see electricity either, but it is still very real'€.

The Pope could have answered this young boy with other examples. At Christmas time it would have been quite easy to say '€œBecause God is spirit, he sent his Son among us by becoming one of us, a human being, visible like all of us'€. St John put it so beautifully in the Gospel we read at the last Mass of Christmas Day '€“ '€œThe Word became flesh, he lived among us, we saw his glory, the glory he has from the Father, as the only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth.'€ Jn1:14

The words of St John also in his first letter in the New Testament are so simple and profound '€œSomething which has existed since the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which you have watched and touched with our own hands, the Word of Life - this is our theme'€1Jn1:1

You and I believe this and have come to know and love Jesus. Christmas is a time to deepen our appreciation and love of our selfless Saviour.

However there are others in our Country, in our communities and maybe even in our families and Catholic Schools who still wonder or doubt or do not believe in God.

St Mary MacKillop is a reminder to us of how the Saints in a very practical way make God real to others. They in some way make God again incarnate. God in some way takes flesh in them. It is because they are so imbued with Jesus that he shines out to others. Other people can in fact see and touch and hear Jesus in them.  When I speak of the Saints, I mean not only the canonised ones, but all the good people there are '€“ people around us and people like yourselves who are reading this and walking the path of Christ.

St Teresa of Avila is reported to have said '€œChrist has no body but yours, no hands, no feet on earth but yours, yours are the eyes with which he looks compassion on this world, yours the feet with which he walks to do good, yours are the hands with which he blesses all the world.'€

This means that the Lords work is there to be done by us now in the present day, in the circumstances of our daily lives. It also means very truly that it is Jesus working in and through us. When people see us or are helped by us they see Christ and know through us His love and help.

But let me return to Mary MacKillop. So much has been said about her in these past weeks. So much has been written about her over the years. All, especially the Sisters that knew her, agree and comment on one particular quality '€“ her kindness. So to appreciate how in Jesus the kindness and love of God appeared, we can go to Mary MacKillop and see further reflections of that kindness.

The Saints like St Mary don'€™t take from Jesus, but lead us to know, appreciate, love and serve him better.

Saints help the gospels come alive. It has been said that '€œSaints are to Gospel as the played music is to the written notes'€.  To put it in another way the '€œSaints are a window into the Gospel.'€

Saints have their special place in the life of the Church and our lives. They are a little incarnation of Jesus who is the incarnation of God the Father.

Be inspired by the Saints, especially our own first Australian Saint. They reflect Jesus to us. As we in turn become more imbued with Jesus we will in turn radiate him more to others. Cardinal Pell in his inspirational homily at the Mass of Thanksgiving in St Pauls Basilica the day after Mary MacKillop'€™s Canonisation said, '€œMary MacKillop is a great saint. We need many more in Australia'€. I am sure he would agree that we need to be saints to renew Australia as Mary MacKillop did in her time.

Christmas is a rich time of Grace when our God reaches out again to us in so many ways. It is a time to take more steps along the road to holiness as the Vatican Council has called each member to. It is a time to take more steps along the path to sainthood.

A very happy Christmas to you all.
Bishop Justin