Around 216 braved the weather for the Receveur Anniversary Mass organised by St Andrews Catholic Church, Malabar. The Mayor, Mr Bruce Notley-Smith, and the local member for Maroubra and Minister for Roads and Traffic and Patron of the Friends of the Laperouse Museum, Mr Michael Daley and his family were in attendance along with the President of the Friends, Mr Bill Land and Patron, Mr Tom Hughes. This is a special year for the Franciscans and they were well represented with Fr Paul Ghanem delivering the Receveur homily:
“The first one came from Assisi 800 years ago, St Anthony of Padua was one
Dante, Jacaponi da Todi and Roger Bacon were one, William of Ockham was one
The first person to translate the Bible into Chinese was one
Maximillian Kolbe who gave up his life for that of another prisoner in Auschwitz was one
Women can be one – St Agnes, the Queen of Bohemia was one, as was St Clare and her mother and sister
Fr Mychal Judge, the fire chaplain, who is listed as the first person killed in the terrorist attacks of 9/11 was one
I’m pretty sure that Boutros, Boutros Ghali is one,
Our current Pope was taught by one but you don’t have to be Catholic to be one
Did you know that there was one onboard with Marco Polo and more than one joined the sailing fleets of Spanish Conquistadors to the New Land of the Americas
We are here because of the one who is buried only metres from where I stand.
In 2009 Franciscans around the world are commemorating 800 years since the approval of the way of life written by St Francis of Assisi, the first one. We call this a celebration of the ‘Grace of our Origins’. And who was it that said Catholics don’t know how to party!
According to historians, 1209 was the year in which Francis received approval for his forma vitae (way of life) from ‘the Lord Pope’. The texts of this Rule and other writings of Francis continue to inspire men and women today. The celebration of the eight centenary gives us the opportunity to remember the past with gratitude, live the present with enthusiasm and to open up with confidence to the future.
On this sacred day it is worth reflecting on why Receveur was one? A learned articulate scientist, priest and astronomer. What made him became a Franciscan what made him want to see and experience what the created world had to offer by jumping on an explorers ship with Laperouse at the helm? To answer this question let’s begin with St Francis.
The revolutionary beauty of this man, Saint Francis, who Receveur and so many have had the desire to follow is that he had this great vision about all things, not just people, praising God by their very existence. Look again at the words of opening hymn – a poem composed by Francis:
The sun, the moon, the clouds, the stars, the plants, the trees, the waters, the oceans, even sister death. All of them called to give glory to God.
We all sang along with the choir: All creatures of our God and King Lift up your voices and with us sing
At a gathering of Friars my brother friar, changed the words of the song to include: surf, sand and sea to reflect his love of surfing. Undoubtedly Receveur would have known this poem. I can imagine him, sailing on the La Astrolabe, singing: All planets, rocks, cultures, peoples and strange creatures lift up your voice and with us sing.
A newsflash: The call to respect the God given integrity contained in all creation didn’t just begin with Francis or an ageing local rocker! The call to see and celebrate God’s creative goodness in all things has been around since God created all things good.
What this vision of St Paul in his letter to the Corinthians and St Francis in his song of praise represents is a mirror reflection of God giving praise to creation. This is the same concept as a child born out of love desiring nothing more than to return that love to the parent. Hence, the reason that all things are called to mirror Gods love is because God loves all things.
Through a most amazing, incredible and intense outpouring of love God brought the world into being. And we remain in existence because this same love is being continually poured out right at this very moment.
None of us can imagine fully the stupendous beauty of this concept. It is impossible because none of us are God.
But does that mean that because we can never fully understand the creating and all consuming love of God that we simply stop trying? – What’s the point, we may say, in even trying if we can never even come close?
Does God because we can’t love him so fully back, stop loving us?
The very opposite is true. It is part of our nature that we reflect the love of God. One of things that humanity has never been able to resist is this call to believe in and know the Creator. A Creator whose imprint is called creation.
How do we come to know the love of God?
God so loved the world that he sent his only Son so that anyone who would believe in him could be saved.
Today’s gospel tells us that after Jesus cured the man with leprosy, the cured man went about proclaim the Word freely – though Jesus had told him not to. Just like a child reflecting the love of its parents the cured man was reflecting the love of the one who had made him well, the man was Jesus sent by God.
The French expedition led by Laperouse had two ships, two priests and 17 scientists. My guess is that is that the ships overflowed with the wonder and majesty of God.
The challenge for us today is not simply to remember Receveur, and to doff our chapeau to the French, but to do as Receveur did. And Receveur did as St Francis did and St Francis did as Christ calls us to do. To recognise God’s created goodness reflected in all creation, to bring healing to those who suffer and then, finally, to do as the man cured in the Gospel did to “tell the story everywhere.”
The first one came from Assisi 800 years ago, we are here because of one who is buried only metres from where I stand.
You’re probably one! “