The Homily of Fr Mark White CP for the Feast of St Mildred
A woman whose name means ‘peaceful counsellor’, and she was known for her generosity in almsgiving and her love for the poor. She knew and put into practice the words Of today’s Gospel” Get yourselves purses that do not wear out, treasure that never fails you… her heart was filled with a love no flood could quench nor sorrows drown. She served the Lord with the overflow from her heart (an expression to which I shall return.
We are living ata very special, vital moment for the Church – a moment of huge potential, a moment of profound and necessary CONVERSION inspired by the teaching and example of our Holy Father, Pope Francis and his call for the Church to take up the synodal pathway, the journeying together of the People of God, seeking that “burning within our hearts” which comes from attentive listening to the Scriptures and listening for the call of the Holy Spirit, listening for His voice in the voices of those with whom we journey together.
As I reflect on these very serious meetings that have taken place at parish, diocesan, national and continental levels – with all their variety and with their inevitable tensions, the largest consultation that the world has ever known, I am personally filled with great hope.
At the risk of over-simplification I would like to say that what each of us being called to is a recognition of our rightful place in the People of God and this means a deeper and deeper exploration of what the Sacrament of Baptism means, what it means that we were all, both Greek and Jew, male and female, slave and citizen, given the one and the same Spirit to drink. That the presence and activity of the Holy Spirit is spread across the whole Church, that every voice is to be listened to, especially those voices which often struggle to be heard and listened to.
This calling us to heed the voice of St Benedict as it has echoed down through the ages and has taken contemporary form in the teachings of Fr John Main OSB. St Benedict taught that a central goal of the Christian life is the expansion of the heart. Fr John writes in “Community of Love” ‘Lift up your hearts. Open your eyes to what is eternally real, the new creation, and seek the purity of heart that will open your eyes..know from your own heart, from your own experience, that you were created for infinite expansion of spirit.’
What this means, particularly for those of us who were brought up as Catholics, that it is not in any way sufficient just to know about God – we have to seek that grace of conversion of heart that will lead us to know God and to live out of that knowledge so that ‘planted in love and built on love, we will, with all the saints have the strength to grasp the length and the breadth, the height and the depth, until the love of Christ, which is beyond all knowledge, we will be filled with the utter fullness of God.’
It was that fullness of God which St Mildred lived and which is our birthright by our new birth in Baptism. And it this ’fullness’ which, to use an expression much favoured by Pope Francis which constitutes the “Overflow” which will characterise the renewed Church of ‘missionary disciples’. Glory be to Him, who, working through us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine; glory be to Him from generation to generation in the Church and in Christ Jesus, for ever and ever. Amen!