Prior to reading the Gospel today, Fr Paul explains that the church in Australia celebrates Australia Day as a day of prayer. It is a day, he says, on which we are encouraged to pray for our nation; to pray for the wonder and beauty we have in this country; to pray with the gratitude for the opportunities it offers us; to pray for forgiveness when we have failed; and, it is an opportunity to pray with hope that we may be a nation where peace and justice reign.

Fr Paul then reads the Gospel from Matthew (5: 2-12), in which Jesus shares the Beatitudes with the people.

Today is a significant date and, Fr Paul says, we have been a country for well over 40,000 years so today is more than just an anniversary of an event.

Today is a day when we acknowledge the indebtedness we have to our country and to everyone who has been part of this Great South Land of the Holy Spirit as we know it.  It is on the foundations of everyone who came before us that we have built our lives.

Today we thank God, who has richly blessed our nation. Fr Paul says, we are called upon to share those benefits in the spirit of the Beatitudes which we’ve heard today.  We are called on to share those Beatitudes, especially, with those who are in need.  We are called on to act with a manner of peace, harmony, and justice in this country, which we love.

Fr Paul invites us, as reflected in the opening prayer of the Mass today, to pray:

‘As the cross shines in our southern skies so may Christ bring light to our nation, to its peoples old and new’.