Homilies: Australia Day 2021

My homily for Australia Day 2021 as preached during the 9.30 am Mass from Sacred Heart Cathedral, Hamilton.

This day, this 26th day of January, is a day with many meanings. For various peoples, it will mean one thing over another.

For some people, if you believe things I’ve been reading in the press of late, this is simply the last public holiday of summer, a last hurrah if you like, before returning to the normality of what it is that we do on a regular basis, day by day.

For others, it’s a propitious day on which they join their lot to ours on this anniversary of the concept of Australian citizenship, which only came about in 1949. And so there will be many a citizenship ceremony celebrated this day, as is right and proper. For them, it’s a day of special celebration.

For others, it is a day of celebration, when we look at all those things that Australia has done and celebrate those.

For others, it’s a day of lament. A day when they look back, with sorrow, at things that have gone on in the past, stretching back to 1788, when 11 ships sailed into what would become known as Sydney Harbour, and all those things that have flown from that singular event.

For others, it’s an occasion for jingoistic nationalism, where they quite literally wrap themselves in the flag, and then go out and beat people over the head if they dare to disagree with whatever they happen to be promoting this year. It is a sad thing when we see that, but it is part of what we see on this day.

There are others for whom this day is an excuse to engage in a culture war to make sure that only their view of Australia is promoted. And anything that smacks of opposition to that is denounced as woke or PC.

All of these things take place on this day. And some of them are even valid.

But for those of us who profess the Christian faith, this day is about none of those, and about yet all of that. Because for us, this is a day I would like to suggest, as it is for any national day that features in our liturgical calendar, a day when we look forward to the future, to the unfinished project that is the Commonwealth of Australia.

We know this concept well. The kingdom of God is something that we are called to proclaim and contribute to bringing about, and yet we know it will never be finished in our lifetime. It will only reach completion in the second coming of Christ at some point of God’s choosing.

We, as Christians who live in this Commonwealth of Australia, then have a role to play. Because of how we approach the coming of the kingdom, we’re also called to do the same thing for the coming and fulfilment of this wonderful experiment called the Commonwealth of Australia.

To say that there is more yet to be done, that it is not yet completed, that there are things we should look back on with sorrow and lament and say we can do better. And then commit ourselves to making things better.

It’s not a simple day where we say “Yay, I’m Australian”, but a day when we say “yes, I am Australian, there are things to celebrate, there are things to lament, and there are things yet undone”.

And my task is to remind people of that, that there is yet more to be done. And ultimately, it is a project that will not reach completion in my lifetime.

It can be a challenge to do that when faced with some of the commentaries you see in various media circles as if the Commonwealth of Australia is and for all time has been determined.

As Christians, we know that is simply not the case. If we believe what we proclaim, if we believe what we come here each and every Sunday to proclaim, then there is yet more to be done. And we have a role to play in it.

To look back at what was but also to look forward to what yet might be and play our part in bringing that to fruition. Only then, can we truly say we are celebrating Australia Day because it is yet unfinished. And it’s a task that has been entrusted to all Australians to bring to completion

And so, my dear friends on this Australia Day, we look forward to the project being completed at some point in time and for us playing our part in making it real, a little bit more during our lifetime, thanks to the contribution that we as Christians make in this nation. So let’s be about that task and celebrate all that is yet to come.

Homilies: Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, Year B

My homily for the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (Year B) As preached during the 5.30 pm Saturday evening Mass from Sacred Heart Cathedral, Hamilton.

The readings proclaimed were Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7; Acts 10:34-38; Mark 1:7-11.

“Through the action of being baptised in the Jordan, Jesus has united himself to us, and through our baptism, we have been united with the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.”

From Fake News To Insurrection

Whenever a new President of the United States is inaugurated, they must take an oath of office. For the Office of President, the promise reads thus:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

This oath, this exact text, is required by Article II, Section One, Clause 8 of the Constitution of the United States. The very words are enshrined in the US political system’s founding document, not required by subordinate legislation enacted by the US Congress.

Today, according to their local time, the 6th day of January 2021, an attempted insurrection took place in the United States of America’s national capital.

Yes, the United States of America.

Not some tiny proto-democracy on the continent of Africa. Not an emerging democracy in some part of Asia.

The United States of America.

A flag-waving, placard-carrying, gun-toting mob attempted to overthrow the constitutional order of the United States. The sight of a vast crowd of people, some very clearly organised if one is to believe the available vision, essentially invading the Capitol Building in Washington, DC, hoping to undermine or overturn the November 2020 presidential election results is simply shocking. No other word seems to sum up the significance of the events we have seen unfold over many hours, at least not for this correspondent.

And if that was not shocking enough, the insurrection was fomented via the actions of one man, a man who, because of an overdeveloped ego and sense of self that borders of narcissism, claims that he had an election stolen from him through massive fraud. That this man is the current holder of the Office of President of the United States only magnifies the significance of what took place in the Capitol Building in Washington, DC from a simple protest to an attempted insurrection as a precursor to a coup d’état.

The fomenting of what was witnessed this morning began many months ago, even before the presidential election. Even then, the current United States president started laying before his supporters the possibility of massive electoral fraud. Was he aware of the potential for the election to not be winnable for him? essentially asserting that he would not lose the election and that his opponents would only appear to win through rigging or stealing the election from him.

Almost immediately once the polls had closed on the first Tuesday of November 2020, the United States’ current President started propagating further claims of fraud. He provided no proof or evidence to support the claims, but the claims were made nevertheless, and increasingly so by both the current President and his supporters.

Lawsuits seeking to overturn election results filed by the current President’s campaign team were dismissed out of hand in every case for lack of any evidence. State after State certified ballots’ results in their jurisdictions and qualifying the results as free, fair and accurate. And those who approved those results or dismissed lawsuits came from right across the broad political spectrum that makes up the United States.

The Electoral College, that strange beast that is at the heart of electing a President and Vice-President, met, cast their ballots, and had them certified as required by law. But that did not stop the current President from attempting to change the results at the last minute through intimidation, coercion, unsubstantiated rumour, or frivolous lawsuit. The current President maintained that he won the election and that the radical left had stolen it from him through massive fraud, a claim that remains unevidenced.

Today, the 6th day of January 2021, the Congress of the United States meets in what is supposed to be a ceremonial sitting to certify the results of the Electoral College.

Today, the current President of the same United States attended a rally of supporters at which he once again repeated the unsubstantiated claims that the election had been stolen from him – and from his supporters – by the  “radical left Democrats” and the “failing mainstream media”.

It was what the current President’s supporters wanted to hear. And hearing their hero, their demagogue, encouraging them never to surrender, they did what he wanted them to do – despite his protestations to the contrary – and attempt to overthrow the constitutional order of the United States.