My dear brothers and sisters, The tragic loss of innocent lives is always a heart-breaking experience. But it becomes all the more devastating when innocent individuals die as a consequence of senseless violence.

Together with our fellow Australians, I share your shock and pain at what happened in a café in Martin Place, NSW, throughout yesterday and especially in the early hours of this morning. With millions around the country, we prayed for a peaceful end and an amicable resolution. Even the Police Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner of NSW were hopeful. But that was not to be. As a consequence, our nation has been rocked by an incomprehensible tragedy that has touched each and every Australian, regardless of age, community or creed.

The hurt is deep and the pain even deeper. However, as is well known, only God can bring good out of evil and triumph over tragedy. He did so in the marvellous Resurrection of our crucified Lord and Risen Saviour; and he has repeatedly done so in the history of nations around the globe. And so, I am fully confident that this unsettling crisis, in God’s Providence, will work towards good that will redound to the benefit of all in this very favoured and blessed land.

Australia is a multi-cultural society that gladly welcomes peoples of all nationalities, languages, cultures and religious traditions. Even more, in the spirit of mateship that is so typical of the Australian culture, we respectfully live together with trust and in unity and harmony. This is what makes the present tragedy so difficult to comprehend and so painful to bear. 2000 years ago, Jesus predicted: “In the world you will face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world! I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace.” (Jn. 16:33) That has been and it always will be the primary role of Christ Jesus, our Risen Lord and triumphant Saviour. Jesus is primarily a Prince of Peace, who wishes that we all have life and in abundance. This, then, is what we earnestly pray for at this Mass and especially in the days before Christmas – a singular celebration of peace and joy.

May Christ Jesus, the Prince of Peace, preserve our national and global family from the scourge of senseless violence! May he move one and all to be respectful and tolerant, and more especially, to live and work together in unity and harmony!