Homily given by Bishop Anthony Randazzo
Bishop of Broken Bay
Commissioning of Plenary Council Delegates
Our Lady of the Rosary Cathedral, 17 April 2021
For some the Fifth Plenary Council is anticipated with great gusto. For some there is more than a little fear and suspicion. For others it is almost, if not completely forgotten.
In our Church of Broken Bay, we have gathered to re-animate our participation in the Plenary Council because we are part of a holy communion. Our local Church is part of the Universal Church. We are one body in Christ, and we confess our faith during this Mass as together we profess our belief in the Blessed Trinity, the Incarnation, death, and resurrection of our Saviour, and the eternal communion of one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.
The journey towards the Plenary Council has been an engagement in connecting communities of believers from all over Australia. Thus far it has been an exercise of listening. Listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches is repeated seven times in the Book of Revelation. This has become the predominant guide for the Australian Catholic Bishops when we called the Plenary Council.
There is a novelty in the Fifth Plenary Council that was not part of the first Four in the history of the Catholic Church in Australia. The novelty is born from the Second Vatican Council and the 1983 Code of Canon Law. For the first time, the Bishop Members of the Council will be joined by Delegates who have been called to the Council. Among the delegates are lay women and men – married, single, and religious. The delegates also include clergy from the local Churches.
One of the aspirations of the Second Vatican Council was the engagement of all the baptised in the life of holiness and the mission of evangelisation. That holy Synod held from 1962 to 1965, has given rise to the spirit of synodality in our Post-Conciliar Church. It is in that same spirit that during this Mass I will commission the Delegates from the Diocese of Broken Bay: Fr David Ranson VG, Alison Newell, Raj Rajasingam, and Danny Casey.
My sister and brothers, as you prepare for the Plenary Council Assembly, I would invite each of you to ponder more deeply the Word of God that we have just listened to.
In the First Letter of John, the Apostle reminds us that Jesus Christ is our advocate. Our relationship with the Saviour is personal and communal. As disciples we are called to listen and to obey. This holy listening is far more than simply doing as you are told. It is an invitation to become part of the Word of Life.
The evangelist Luke reminds us that like the first disciples, what we hear and see and touch is essential to who we are and what we are urged to do as disciples of the Risen Lord. Our first vocation is to holiness which is the fruit of encounter with the Risen Christ. From encounter with Christ, we are sent to encounter others as witnesses of the Truth.
Like Saint Peter in the First Reading, we are to speak the truth, not to condemn, but to call others to Christ. The relationship is one of conversion, renewal, and reform of life.
My brothers and sisters, while I underscore this for our Plenary Council Delegates, it is equally true for the Bishop members and it is likewise true for all the baptised.
The Plenary Council is not a parliament. It is not a convention nor is it a political congress. It is an instrument of the Holy Spirit, who guides the community of the Church to embrace a holy listening, a truthful speaking, a dialogue of love.
As I commission Fr David, Ali, Raj, and Danny, I commend them to your prayers. I ask also that you pray for me as your bishop, that I may be faithful to the call that has been placed upon me as your shepherd in Christ.
In the Gospel the disciples stood gathered about the two from Emmaus, who had walked and talked with the risen Christ, who had failed to recognise him in the fading light; but who knew him instantly in the breaking of the bread. As he once did for the disciples, Jesus will live in our hearts, speak through our words, see with our eyes, and with our hands reach out to others.
May the Catholic Church in Australia be animated by the Holy Spirit to believe and profess our faith in the Risen Lord.
May the Truth, who is Christ, lead us in listening to the Gospel and may we be faithful and joyful witnesses of that Truth in the world. Amen.