Cardinal Grand Master O'Brien

20 July 2013, St Patrick’s College Maynooth, Ireland

Investiture of Knights and Ladies

I would like to begin by thanking Lieutenant H.E. Nicholas McKenna and His Eminence Sean Cardinal Brady our Grand Prior for their gracious welcome and hospitable reception. Our Order’s history here in Ireland is rich and noble and you should be rightly proud as well as grateful in continuing this tradition. And how blessed we are to have here with us in Ireland and at this Investiture our Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Charles Brown, along with Bishop Michael Smith, Bishop Raymond Field and our special guest and guest of this Lieutenancy, His Eminence John Cardinal Njue.

Permit me to presume to steal a page from Pope Frances’ homily style in limiting myself to three brief points. The first is tragedy. The second is dream. The third is hope.

The Gospel bespeaks tragedy. Jesus interrupts his triumphant Palm Sunday entry into Jerusalem, pausing in his descent from Mount Olivet to fix sad eyes on that magnificent city – his magnificent city of Jerusalem, fully displayed in all its historic grandeur.

Many prophets before him spoke the dire description of Jerusalem’s future destruction. But now he knows it to be imminent. Tears streaming: O Jerusalem, if only you know how terrible your destruction will soon be for your children and your children’s children! No life will be spared, no stone unturned. But how often I’ve yearned to gather your children together as a hen gathers her breed under her wings, but you were unwilling. Even now, you will not recognize this final opportunity the Lord is offering you! Tragedy indeed!

But …… , there is a dream – God’s dream

Centuries before, viewing that same Holy City, a city now desolate and devastated with its citizens in Babylonian exile, Isaiah too is tempted to depression and tears. But hears the God of Israel whispering words of future relief. He sees a Jerusalem free, bright and glorious in triumph. A Jerusalem whom the Lord calls, My Delighted, My Spouse. This is a Jerusalem which God will never abandon, which God will keep in his possession even in its bleakest hours. Peace will once more return to Jerusalem. A dream – God’s dream for a future Jerusalem, Isaiah’s dream. Is it our dream as well?

That is what we are about as an Order: hope

In three similar portraits, the Acts of the Apostles offers a foretaste, a vision of this future Jerusalem, as lived in the internal life of that first Christian community: the Apostles devoted themselves to teaching, to fellowship, to the Breaking of the Bread and to prayers. Moreover, we heard, so united were they in Christ, that they shared all their possessions in common, giving to anyone in need.

Unique is the account from Acts which we’ve just heard – and quite relevant for us, for this account adds that the life of that Church was lived in testimony to, by the grace that still poured out from the Lord’s Cross and Resurrection. Indeed that community experienced the serenity, the peace which was the Risen One’s first gift to his Church as on that first Easter Sunday He said: Peace be with you and breathed upon them His Holy Spirit.

At last, true peace has been planted into the hearts of God’s New Jerusalem. Pope Benedict reminded us that “According to its Hebrew etymology, peace means being complete and intact, restored to wholeness. It is the state of those who live in harmony with God and with themselves, with others and with nature……”

Such was the peace shared by that first Jerusalem Christian community. And that is the hoped-for peace that so many present day Christians there look to us to give them: lives complete and intact, whole lives in harmony with God, others and nature. And that is the peace that we, sons and daughters of the Resurrection are called to offer them by our lives of personal prayer and the sharing of our possessions, as members of the Order dedicated to the peaceful restoration of Jerusalem.

This morning we should hear echoes, contemporary echoes of the Acts of the Apostles: Do we not pledge to live our Faith in the unique fellowship of this Order, devoted to the teachings of the Apostles. At our gatherings do we not rejoice in the Breaking of Bread and in prayer? And are we not bound, as members to share our possessions in common – yes within our parishes and dioceses but beyond that, with the many who still speak the language of Jesus and experience in their common Faith the only peace possible in a land of oppression.

Rarely has the work of our Holy Order been more critical for the Holy Land. In the name of our Latin Patriarch and the thousands who benefit from your spiritual and material generosity, I thank you veteran members of our Order. And for the encouragement and example with which you have inspired these new members solemnly to step forward in pledging their lives to this unique cause.

As we listen to the challenging words of the ceremony now to follow, we first call upon the Holy Spirit.