Detail from Arundel Cathedral, Sussex, UK
This homily was given to the Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matara, who have a house in the parish here in DC:
One of the principal calls of the New Evangelisation is the renewal, within the life of the Church, of those who practice the faith, and also those who have lapsed. By this initiative of successive popes, the Church is being called to discover again the unchanging truths of the gospel, and to proclaim them afresh with new ardour, methods, and expressions, in order that all the baptized might be renewed with the grace the Lord offers us by his death and resurrection, and which is the source of our hope in the eternal life he has won for us.
Today’s gospel has something important to say us as we consider this urgent task. Amidst all the excitement and bustle that surrounds the many projects, initiatives, and activities of the New Evangelisation, must be an equally fervent and yet silent interior renewal, that makes us ready to receive the graces of this endeavour and to act on them, as we seek to bring the gospel once more to the world. If we simply continue to pour the ‘new wine’ of a renewed faith into the ‘old skins’ of our unchanged lives, without the interior evangelisation and conversion that is required for each of us, then all the engagement with culture and social media and liturgical renewal that we can muster, will count for little.
On this First Friday, when we commemorate the Lord’s sacred heart, that interior renewal which we require is very clearly presented to us. Just as Christ was entirely consumed by his love for us, so we must have hearts that consume our own earthly desires and wills, in order that his heart might reign in us, and work through all that we do. To have the heart of Jesus Christ within us is to have exactly the ‘new skins’ we require to be truly and profoundly transformed by Christ ourselves, and so be transformative of the culture of death and provisionality that exists around us.
As Pope Francis has said, “evangelisation is done on one’s knees”. Here, in the Mass especially, may that work of our renewal begin again, that Christ may work through us and his mercy and grace and love may be made known.