Bringing our needs to God with humility, honesty and trusting faith is what Christian prayer is all about, said Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB on the occasion of the 2019 Cultural Diversity Mass.
The annual celebration, which was held at St Mary’s Cathedral at the 6pm Vigil Mass on Saturday 26 October. The Cultural Diversity Mass was concelebrated by Cathedral Dean Rev Dr Sean Fernandez and assisted by Deacon John Kiely.
Archbishop Costelloe reflected on readings from the Gospel of St Luke, before speaking about the importance of prayer.
“The parable of the Pharisee and tax collector is indeed the second of three stories in chapter 18 of St Luke’s Gospel. All of those three stories in different ways, invites us to reflect on the really important question of prayer, and what place prayer really plays in our daily lives,” Archbishop Costelloe cited.
“Tonight’s Gospel is really inviting us in a particular way to look to ourselves, and consider several confronting questions.
“How genuine and how honest is my prayer? And is there any chance that it might be tinged even a little bit at least with pride and arrogance and a sense of entitlement?”
The Perth Archbishop went on to state the Pharisee in St Luke’s Gospel had “no sense at all of his need of God”, adding that while the Pharisee’s prayer may first seem like a prayer of gratitude, what he really is doing, is “congratulating himself on how good and generous he thinks he is”.
“The tax collector standing at the back of the temple however, is the very opposite. He is very honest, full of shame and contrition, deeply aware of his failings and of his need for God’s mercy.
“And of course at the end of the parable, Jesus insists that it is not the Pharisee not the tax collector who went home with God. Because the tax collector understood who he really was and who God really was. This is the real purpose of our prayer,” he explained.
“Rather than being a way of getting what we want from God, prayer is a way of becoming who we are really meant to be.”
Archbishop Costelloe concluded by urging the faithful to always be opened to grow in their understanding of God and need for Him.
“If we can grow in our understanding of God, and of our need for God, have a deep sense of our need for God, we will discover perhaps that the things that we thought we so desperately needed or wanted are not so important after all,” Archbishop Costelloe affirmed.
“We will learn to live lives of trust and peace, because our hope will be in God, rather than in ourselves. Then we will be at rights with God – and when you’re at rights with God, we will be at peace with ourselves and at peace with others.”
At the conclusion of Mass, West Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office (WACMRO) Director Deacon Gregory Lowe read the WACMRO Church statement for the year. He began by explaining what cultural diversity means in the context of our Church today.
“Cultural diversity means difference but difference is something to be encountered and dialogued with rather than feared,” Dcn Lowe stated.
“As we move from a Euro-centric Church to a Church, more like we have here at this celebration with many peoples and languages and celebrating the one faith, let us not make the mistake of thinking cultural diversity is a threat to church unity but understand, in fact, that cultural diversity is essential to unity because for harmony to exist there must first be difference.
“Faith cannot be limited to the understandings of any one culture but must be given the freedom to express itself through, with and in those symbols and rich traditions most meaningful to the various cultures – this is how faith is transmitted and kept alive,” he added.
Dcn Lowe encouraged those present to not be afraid to encounter and dialogue with different cultures of the Church, but rather celebrate the cultural diversity that exists.
“Celebrate the cultural diversity before us knowing, it is in some way, a reflection of who God is and knowing also, as the Blessed Trinity has taught us, that in recognising, respecting, reconciling with and realising difference – we are, in fact, bringing harmony to life.
“At the end of the day, isn’t that what most people want – a moment of harmony, an experience of peace; an opportunity to be content midst the ups and downs of life,” Dcn Lowe concluded.