In this week's message to the Melbourne Catholic community, Archbishop Peter A Comensoli shares how the great saint, St Thomas Aquinas, once described heaven as being in friendship with God. 'What a beautiful way of describing it,' Archbishop Comensoli says, 'and surely that's something we would all want to be striving for ... it doesn't matter what circumstances we're in – whether we're still in a lockdown situation or being freed up a little – we can all build our relationship with the Lord, who is always wanting to build His relationship with us.'
'Hello friends. Good to be back here with you.
I'm aware that there has been some easing of the possibility now that we can celebrate Mass indoors, and also the sacraments outdoors in greater numbers. So this is a gift that certainly is well worth making the most of, but I also recognise that we've still got a way to go in reaching parity with other sectors and I'll continue to work in regards to that.
This Sunday's gospel was about the commandment to love. It does remind me that love is not just something that happens. We can have the experience of being in love, yes. But love is also particularly a decision, an intention, a willing, that we choose to love, particularly in the gift of friendship. One of our great saints, St Thomas Aquinas once was writing about “what is heaven?” Essentially he said that heaven is not a place, but friendship with God. That’s heaven. What a beautiful way of describing it: friendship with God. And surely that's something we would all want to be striving for.
As you know, in our faith as Christians, we believe that we are called by God to holiness. And that holiness – we often use the words, “saintly”, but really it's about this sense of friendship with God. And so I just encourage you to build your friendship with God. You’ve got to be able to get to know someone, don't you, to be able to be friends with them. So you got to get to know the Lord. He's always reaching out to know us, but we can do our best to get to know Him: reading the Scriptures, for instance, praying, finding ways of learning more about our faith and about the Lord Himself, who brings that gift of faith to us in His grace.
So all of these opportunities are before us and it doesn't matter what circumstances we're in – whether we're still in a lockdown situation or being freed up a little – we can all build our relationship with the Lord, who is always wanting to build His relationship with us. So go for the friendship with the Lord; go for friendship with one another, because that's the path to heaven and to our homeland.
Every blessing to you.'
Archbishop Peter A Comensoli
Archbishop Peter A Comensoli22 February 2021