By Josh Low
Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB emphasised the importance of having a deep relationship with Jesus and answering the invitation to a ‘profound communion of love and life’ with God, in his homilies for Holy Thursday and Good Friday last week.
Over these two significant days of Holy Week, Archbishop Costelloe delved deep into the Gospel of Saint John, emphasising the love of God and the need of seeing what it means in practice.
Central to both of the Archbishop’s homilies was the need for Jesus to be the central figure and example for us in everyday life.
With a focus on the gesture of Jesus in the washing of the feet, the giving of his body and blood to be broken for mankind and the journey from the room of the Last Supper to the agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, Archbishop Costelloe said each of these three moments of Jesus’ last night on Earth teaches us about love at its highest form.
“As Jesus gets down on his hands and knees to wash the feet of his disciples, we see that love will always be about humility, about generous and selfless service, about being prepared to abandon our own dignity for the sake of those we love.
“As Jesus takes bread and breaks it and gives it to his disciples, and as he takes a cup of wine and shares it with his disciples, and assures them that it is his body and his blood, his whole life and all that he is and has, that he is giving to them in a gesture of profound intimacy, we see that love is prepared to do precisely that: to give everything, to hold nothing back, and in a sense to demand nothing in return.
“As Jesus sets out for Gethsemane, having watched Judas leave the room early in order to go and betray Jesus to his enemies; as he enters into his agony and looks for support from his closest friends only to find them fast asleep, then watching them all run away in fear as he is arrested by the Roman soldiers, we see that love is faithful even in the face of infidelity; that it remains steadfast in the face of cowardice and is ready to understand and forgive even in the face of betrayal,” he said.
The Archbishop stressed that the story of Jesus speaks of God’s love, most powerfully revealed in the readiness to forgive.
He also outlined that though it may seem like a high ideal, with forgiveness becoming more difficult through deeper experiences of hurt by others, having that relationship of faith and trust in Jesus will give us strength and peace.
“The Lord does not hold out to us such high ideals without also offering us a way to live up to them.
“Jesus says, ‘Make your home in me, and I will make my home in you.’
“This is precisely the gift of the Eucharist. The Lord is inviting us into a profound communion of love and life with him,” he said.
Archbishop Costelloe added that in entering that communion, the challenge is to pray with trust and conviction, or at least with a glimmer of hope, when we are facing struggles, opposition, ill-treatment or worse.
“Trust in God really means handing over, entrusting, everything to God and then moving forward into the future knowing that we do so not alone but with God by our side.
“This trusting faith is what enabled Jesus, in the Garden of Olives, to say at the end of his prayer for deliverance from what awaited him, ‘Father, not as I would have it, but as you would have it’,” the Archbishop said.
“Trusting faith is that precious gift from God which will enable us to live our lives with a deep serenity, no matter what turmoils disturb us on the surface of our lives, because we have given everything into God’s hands.
“This is the peace Jesus himself promised to give us when he assured his disciples he would give them the gift of a peace, not like the peace the world gives, but one which can only come from God.
“May we learn from Jesus, in his suffering, death and resurrection, that we can entrust ourselves to God because God loves us, God is faithful to his promises, and God will never abandon those whom he loves – and that means each one of us,” he concluded.