I am delighted to be here today as we celebrate the new Croom Civic Centre and Town Park. It is a great achievement to have such an initiative and I congratulate the Croom Community Development Association and all involved in getting to this point. It is a reflection of the Croom community spirit that has provided the impetus and energy to work towards a project that is beautiful, directed to the common good of the people of Croom and aimed at linking young and old.
Recently, Pope Francis has written an encyclical letter on the environment. It is a wonderful letter and well worth reading. At a certain point he speaks about what he calls “civic and political” love. What he means by that is that while the love at the heart of the Christian calling is made up of small, everyday gestures of love for one another, there is also a love that is social, with a commitment to the common good that affects not only relationships between individuals but also “macro-relationships”, in other words the relationships that link us at the social and civic levels.
This social love is the key to authentic development. If we want society to more human, more worthy of the human person, we need initiatives and strategies that halt environmental degradation and encourage a “culture of care” that permeates all of society.
All of this means that our commitment to making our area more beautiful, building up the relationships between generations, providing locations of encounter, are all an exercise of Christian love that are part of our Christian spirituality. We grow and mature and become holy precisely in and through initiatives such `0as these.
I think the initiative we are celebrating today mirrors what Pope Francis is saying. In fact, I would like to read a quote from his letter because I think it captures a lot of what has probably gone on here through this initiative. The Pope says, “Not everyone is called to engage directly in political life. Society is also enriched by a countless array of organizations which work to promote the common good and to defend the environment, whether natural or urban. Some, for example, show concern for a public place (a building, a fountain, an abandoned monument, a landscape, a square), and strive to protect, restore, improve or beautify it as something belonging to everyone. Around these community actions, relationships develop or are recovered and a new social fabric emerges. Thus, a community can break out of the indifference induced by consumerism. These actions cultivate a shared identity, with a story which can be remembered and handed on. In this way, the world, and the quality of life of the poorest, are cared for, with a sense of solidarity which is at the same time aware that we live in a common home which God has entrusted to us. These community actions, when they express self-giving love, can also become intense spiritual experiences.” (n. 232)
I am happy we are celebrating Mass here today on the Feast Day of the Assumption of Mary into heaven. I know there was a tradition of coming to a Mass rock nearby at this time of year. August 15th is the day when we remember that Mary was carried up into heaven. Completely transfigured, she now lives with Jesus. Notice that the Reading today gave us words to describe her. She is the Woman, “clothed in the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars” (Rev 12:1). In other words, carried up into heaven, she is the Mother and Queen of all creation. In her glorified body, together with the Risen Christ, part of creation has reached the fullness of its beauty.
So while today we rejoice that Mary is Our mother in heaven, we can also find inspiration in her for our life on earth. We often see images of Mary that speak to us harmony and purity, beauty and peace. We know that on earth she saw her mission as social transforming our world as we read in the Magnificat in today’s Gospel. Now assumed into heaven, Mary understands the meaning of all things. So we can ask her to enable us to look at this world with her eyes of wisdom and know how to transfigure our world with the Christian love that inserts beauty and true encounter in our community, local environment, workplace or farm, family home and school, parish and sports and entertainment.
Mary is the model of life in the new heaven and the new earth. This project is a reflection of the new earth that we are called to build. Mary is our inspiration. But she also helps us in another way. And this is my last point today. Pope Francis has a great devotion to Mary as the Untier of Knots. He was struck once by an image he saw in Augsburg, Germany, of Mary untying a ribbon of knots. We all are aware of many knots that can bind us in our personal and community life. Let’s entrust to Mary, the Untier of knots, any problem or issue that concerns us. She will help us.