citizen. I am an Australian.
Again, by any standards, we live not only in the greatest Nation on earth, but at a time that has to be the most exciting time to live in the whole history of the human race.
For thousands of years, our ancestors have dreamed of living in our time - a time when instantaneous world communications can be achieved from anywhere to anywhere on our planet. That dream was not possible until satellites and cellular phones became part of everyday life.
Not only voice communication! A cricket match in Lords, the inauguration of an American President, a Papal Mass in St Peters all can be seen and heard as they happen. We can participate in these events, not only at home, but with a battery powered palm sized receiver available from Dick Smiths we can do so on the beach, riding in a car, or anywhere else imagination and circumstances can take us.
If we want to travel there personally, 24 hours will see you at almost any destination on our globe, at a cost that amounts to only a few weeks wages. We take such communication and travel for granted – but such things were only a dream when I was a boy sitting around the family radio listening to The Search for the Golden Boomerang, and Jason and the Argonauts serials. Or on a Sunday night sitting with the family watching the radio for the General Motors Hour - “A link in the chain of Australia’s progress, a partner in Australia’s future” All that in my life time – they were science fiction for other generations and hallucinatory dreams for our ancestors.
Perhaps medicine has still a way to go to fulfil all the dreams - but even there, what tremendous strides have been taken in only the last few years – Dr Salk’s polio vaccine, aspirin, penicillin, sulphur drugs, heart by-pass, transplants, magnetic resonance imaging brain scans – the list can go on to very impressive lengths.
Today we enjoy what our ancestors for thousands of years have only dreamed of. You really do have to pinch yourself when you see a QANTAS 747 lift into the sky from Kingsford Smith airport and know that the following day those 460 passengers will have traded our warm sunshine for the damp fog of London, or the smoggy smell of LA. Today we are the reality of what dreams were made of.
You might think me a little premature in saying that NOW is the ideal time, but I defend my claim by pointing out that today all these marvels of technology are still in our hands to control. A pilot flies the “Longreach” 747, a surgeon wields the scalpel, a cameraman points his lens at the pope in St Peters Square, while another person, a programmer, in the Australian studios, sends the signals to your receiver. For all our technology, we are still at this time, a people world. I do have some trepidation that future generations will not have the controls to pull the plug
or flick a switch. Yes! we do live in the most exciting times in the history of mankind.
But I am not just a citizen of the world, I am an Australian! I belong to the Great South Land of the golden wattle, girt by sea - the wide brown land that Dorothy McKellar immortalised. I am a sentimental Australian bloke of the same larrikin streak as CJ Denis’ Ginger Mick – I’ve even got a presbytery dog that would make Around the Boree Log’s John
O’Brien smile. I am an Australian with the same roots as Dame Nellie Melba, Kingsford Smith, Arthur Boyd, Boy Charlton, Norman Thomas Gilroy, Mary MacKillop, Thomas Muldoon, Hudson Fysh. I am an Australian who traces his
roots to the First Fleet who set up their tents on the shores of the world’s finest harbour. I am an Australian. And, I share MY Australia with millions who have crossed the seas to make this OUR Australia – a haven of peace and an opportunity to grow. And together we share our Australia with the Aborigines who even before us, migrated to this Great South Land from the north. Like a magnet, this great island continent has drawn people from all over the world and found our land of the Southern Cross to be a true home. There is no greater privilege than to be an Australian
citizen. All the world saw some of that during “the greatest Olympics ever”. Who could blame them for being envious of what and who we are. We are Australians.
But no great nation can rest complacently on the past, or even the present! If we have a unique privilege in being Australian, then too do we have a very real responsibility for the future of our nation. If we accept what past generations have entrusted to us in this Nation, then too must we accept the challenges that face us. We have the tools to meet those challenges in our faith. We have the tools, yes, but do we have the resolve? Australia is in danger of losing her soul - it is that soul that we, with our faith, must reanimate.
Australian sport, art, technology, science, whatever – they are nothing without an Australian soul! Grace builds on nature – we have a great and proud nature on which we can build a fabulous tomorrow for Australians yet to come – but it requires action, NOW, if there is to be an Australia tomorrow!
The soul is the spiritual dimension of our unique human nature that acknowledges God as our creator and law giver, and our fellow man as fellow sons and daughters of that one true God.
The God of Mary of Nazareth, of Paul of Tarsus, of Mary Mackillop of North Sydney, and of you and me. A God who gives every human person the same dignity and value. A value struck by his Son at the price of his life. We are part
of God’s family – his Australian sons and daughters, and we neglect our family obligations at our peril. If being an Australian imposes on us solemn obligations, then even more so does our Catholic faith! What we are as a Nation
pales to insignificance if we do not recognise what we are as Christians.
As a nation of only 100 years could I be forgiven in thinking that God has kept the best wine till last - we are a Grange Hermitage among a world vintage of rough reds! and we can show the world what true freedom really is - a freedom that delights in acknowledging God’s law as the way to real happiness – a happiness that enjoys the delights of the material world in a manner that accords with his creation. Anything less is not true freedom, nor is it real joy.
That truth MUST be instilled in the future generations if they are to really enjoy what it means to be Australian. This is not an impossible task for it starts with the individual – you and me – in living that truth. And we have the greatest
Australian to show us how - Mary Help of Christians is our Australian Mother. She can lead us nowhere - except to her Son. She can direct us only in the direction of truth, freedom and divine love. Where else do we go to face the
challenges of the future. I am a son of Australia, I am a son of Mary Help of Christians, who better to give me advice. Did she not tell the stewards at the wedding feast of Cana “do what ever HE tells you”. If we truly believe that
we are the Grange Hermitage in a world of rough reds – then we need to follow her advice.
On this Australia Day let us resolve to be true sons and daughters of Australia – let us live our freedom and our heritage as a Christian people mindful of our Australian privilege, mindful of our Australian responsibilities.
God bless Australia.
God bless Australians.