Archbishop Joseph Harris last Sunday gave thanks to God for his six years serving the archdiocese.
Delivering what he described as possibly his last homily at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, he said, “The last thing I can say to you is this—the only thing that God wants of us is that we be authentic disciples…..everything else is so much fluff”. He hoped in the six years he helped people come to this understanding, “it is the only thing that God wants of us, nothing else, nothing else”.
People from parishes across the country joined the Archbishop as he presided at the Mass with main concelebrants Bishop Emeritus Malcom Galt and Cathedral Administrator Msgr Christian Pereira.
Referring to the Sunday’s Gospel (Jn 1:6–8, 19–28) Archbishop Harris said John the Baptist was like an “arrow” pointing not to himself but to the One who is the light of the world, who came to save the world. John did not walk with or live with Jesus but he was a disciple. Catholics because of Baptism and Confirmation are called to be like John, pointing to Jesus the Christ and helping others in their journey towards Almighty God.
Archbishop Harris said, “That is the task that has been given to each one of us. It is fidelity to that task which says whether or not we have prepared ourselves for the day the Lord comes to us”.
It is said that Christmas is for children but Archbishop Harris disagrees. Christmas is not about toys and gifts, it is a reminder the Lord will come again and all must be ready. He directed the question to the congregation, “Is Trinidad and Tobago ready to be offered to the Father?”
Referring to news reports in the print and electronic media, he commented “we are not ready”. Archbishop Harris said the reason for this was because persons have not been faithful to the mission given: to love, seek the good of others, strive to make a nation of justice, peace and love.
He called for introspection on what has been done to create a country of justice, peace and love which can be offered to the Father. “We say we believe in Him and that we love Him, we say that very glibly but do we really?”
A consistent concern of Archbishop Harris has been the preoccupation with what he termed the gods of money, pleasure, power. He commented, “Yet so often we spend our life and our energy seeking the god of money, for what purpose? And I ask people this all the time, the money you pay your workers can you live on that? And the answer is ‘no’”. He said one’s whole life should be like Advent, preparation for the Kingdom.
The Archbishop suggested fear was the “great enemy” in the country today with people staying indoors and refusing to venture outdoors even to help someone. The choice to “do nothing” is not the answer. When questioned by Almighty God, the response cannot be “I was afraid. The only way you can tell God I was afraid is if you telling him you were afraid of the devil but nobody else,” he cautioned.
He asked if the lives of Catholics exemplified, “This is the way you must live.” He added, “Unless our lives are carrying people to the light, as far as God is concerned we are wasting our time.”
The Archbishop was thankful for the prayerful support of the faithful saying he had felt the power of prayers. “God bless you all. Keep me in your prayers; I need them.”
During his retirement Archbishop Harris, who is a Holy Ghost Father (Spiritan) will take up residence at Fatima College.
He did not know how many years he had left but felt the time was coming. Again asking for prayers he wished that when the Lord calls him he will hear “Come, come blessed one… So pray for me please, that I am ready”.
Archbishop Harris asked for Catholics to support Archbishop-elect Jason Gordon, “give him your allegiance; help him in the ways that you can”.
Deacon Roy Raghunanan proclaimed the Gospel and the Sacred Heart traditional choir led the music for the liturgy. They presented “Thanks to Him” and a special prayer tribute.
Before the dismissal of the congregation, Msgr Pereira invited members of the congregation to share a few words with the Archbishop. There was a line of well-wishers waiting to speak directly to Archbishop Harris after the Mass as he greeted persons leaving the Cathedral. – LPG