Friday, June 18, 2010

Trinity II - Fr Damian Feeney

Homily given by Fr Damian Feeney, Vice Principal of St. Stephen’s House, on Trinity II, 13th June 2010.

It is a great joy and privilege to be here today as we celebrate the mighty sacraments of the new covenant in the life of Ann Lee, born just over a month ago, the youngest (and, apart from Christopher Johnson, the smallest) member of our community here at St. Stephen’s House. We celebrate with her because of all we understand her Baptism to mean; the truth of her incorporation into church and kingdom; the fact of her dying with Christ, that she may share in his resurrection; the vocation which is part of the gift of grace in her life, the outworking of which is entrusted to her parents and godparents. Above all we pray that this moment of Baptism will be the moment of her knowing Christ, and that such a knowledge will be hers every day of her life; that Christ is not only her companion, high priest, host, and guest, but friend and brother. For today Father Andrew and Sara are not alone in celebrating a new family member; all of us, and Christians all over the world, have a new sister.

Our gospel reading points to one aspect of this miraculous liturgy, namely forgiveness. Today and every day the grace of forgiveness will be Anne’s. Jesus came, and comes still, to end the estrangement between human beings and God, to banish the sins and barriers which we have built up amongst ourselves and against God. Today all of this is washed away: as we rejoice with Anne, her parents and godparents, we are reminded of the fact of our own baptism, without which none of the journeys we have undertaken would be possible. We rejoice in the endless capacity for mercy that the Lord displays towards those who turn to him in sorrow for their sins. For this astonishing God does not merely wish to look down on us. Nor is he content with merely being one of us, and sharing our lives as Christ did. This is a God who longs for the shocking intimacy of our incorporation into him, even as he sees fit to dwell within us. For we celebrate a very particular kind of new life – not the life we ourselves live, but the life lived in us by Christ, who is able to accomplish in us far more than we can ever ask or imagine (as Paul reminds the Ephesians) as we are rooted and grounded in his love. Consequently we are able to grasp the length, the breadth, the height and the depth of God’s love in our very beings.

Let us pledge today to pray for Ann, and for all those who, in future days, we will ourselves have the privilege of baptizing in our own ministries, that she may indeed know the life of Christ welling up within her, as he draws her close to himself, and that she may know and make known his presence and joy within her.