Year A 2019
Fr Adrian Farrelly
Neil MacGregor, the director the British Museum in London, wrote a fascinating book: The History of the World in 100 Objects. The objects are in the museum. As he says, an object can tell us about people long gone who never developed the capability to write down what we might call history or who did not have materials on which to write that were able to sustain the passage of time.
He devotes chapters 2 and 3 to a knife and an axe found in a cliff in Tanzania. Carbon dating (the way archaeologists measure how old something is) dated the soil in which the objects were found to somewhere between 1.8 and 2 million years ago! Never before had any object been found that allowed a conclusion to be reached that homo sapiens, human beings like us, were there so long ago.
I start my conversation with you with this information about how long human beings have walked the earth to state that God is deeply involved in long term planning to rescue us from ourselves by re-embracing the original intimacy God wanted all human beings to enjoy.
The stories of creation and the departure from the garden of Eden found in the book of Genesis are classified as proto-history. The stories are not historical accounts as we know them. The stories reveal why the human race is as it is with its tendency to selfishness and destructiveness. They reveal how misery and sin exists in a world created and held in existence by God who is good and loving. The answer lies within us and the choices we make. Some choices lead to misery and death. Others lead to life and delight.
Australia Day is a day to remember. We remember a meeting of different cultures, one at home here for tens of thousands of years and others more recently arrived. We remember the consequences of that meeting. We remember choices made and the hurt and destructiveness suffered as a result. We remember the healing that comes with facing truth. However, we do our remembering in the light of the words of Jesus at the last supper repeated every time we celebrate Eucharist: do this in memory of me.
Matthew in his gospel finds in the scriptures he and most of his community grew up with as devout Jews what God planned to bring human beings from destructive selfishness to life-giving service. He knew the words of Isaiah written 500 years before that from the north of the country a light would come. Nazareth where Jesus grew to maturity and began his mission is in the north.
God has always spoken to human beings wherever they have lived and whenever. The law of love is written on each and every human heart. The mission of Jesus was not bring something to us that was missing. He, God’s Word made flesh, came to get us to open our eyes to what was already there. “Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand” is a call to go deep within ourselves and see how we are created to love and die so that others may live – as Jesus did. Repent is something we consciously do. To repent is not to experience some sense of regret for something we did that was wrong. To repent is to alter our way of thinking deliberately to embrace the reality Jesus shows is there with us already.
The words of Jesus are to be always on our lips. As he called Peter, Andrew, James and John to follow him , so he calls us. The light Matthew saw in our Lord is the light we are to walk by and help others to see. That is the way to cure diseases and sickness. We hope in the Lord. We hold firm and take heart.