Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster

Lourdes 2017 Closing Mass

Given at the closing Mass of the Lourdes pilgrimage at the Grotto on 28th July 2017

Yesterday we met and celebrated Mass under a terebinth. Today we meet and celebrate Mass under a rock. 

God spoke to Gideon under the tree. Gabriel spoke to Mary. And Mary spoke to Bernadette here under this rock. 

So we come here, to listen, to look, to receive, for Mary calls us here so she can bring us to her Son, so she can bring her Son to us. 

As we come to the formal end of our pilgrimage, though there is still time for quiet reflection on all that we have received, let us not forget the lessons taught to us by Mary and Bernadette: that God’s greatness flowers best through our lowliness, our humility, our weakness. 

We have another example of that today: David, a small boy up against the giant Goliath. He is out-classed in strength and weapons, as we can be too. Yet in his weakness and lowliness he is victorious so that we may learn that strength lies in God who does great things for us. 

As we ponder the wonderful days of our pilgrimage let's focus on the different strengths that have touched us, not strengths as the world recognises, but strengths that speak of the otherness of God who does indeed dwell within us and brings forth his gifts. Think of the strength of generous service given so freely and cheerfully by so many in our pilgrimage family; think of the strength of silent prayer that has touched us; of the strength of the deeply flowing stream of forgiveness which has washed over us; the strength of patience and gentleness shown by so many; and think too of the strong vibrant humour, laughter and fun that has marked these days! 

The Lord has indeed done great things for us! 

But now we are to leave and the Gospel we have heard helps us. Peter is setting out on the great mission he is given. This is the moment of his parting from the earthly Jesus. The conversation is so telling.

‘Peter, do you love me?’

‘Yes, Lord, you know that I love you!’

‘Feed my lambs, feed my sheep. 

We are so used to associating these words with the person of the Pope, the successor of St Peter, and rightly so. But they also apply to each one of us: 

Liz, Veronica, Sharon, Jessica, do you love me?

Daren, Dave, Miles, Stephen, Vincent, do you love me?

Yes, Lord, you know that I love you. 

Pope Francis has a favourite phrase for us all. He likes to say that we are ‘missionary disciples of Jesus’. As disciples we say: ‘yes, Lord, you know I love you!’ As his missionaries he tells us ‘Feed my lambs, feed my sheep!’ Look after each other, especially those most in need. Yes, Lord, we will. This is the mission we receive here and the call we take away with us. 

Peter’s name means rock. We do well to remember him, the first missionary disciple, here at this rock. And there is one more rock to recall: the rock called Golgotha, for on that rock Jesus, in his last words, said to us: See this is your Mother! 

Yes, she is with us, always. We salute you Mary, full of grace, our life our sweetness and our hope. Show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary! Amen.


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