Msgr Brendan Daly started off his homily at the funeral of former Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand Jim Anderton, CNZM, with a salutary story.
The priest told the congregation at the Requiem Mass – including Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and many other past and present politicians – at Sacred Heart Church in Addington of an occasion some years ago when Mr Anderton addressed a local parish meeting.
“He began his talk with a reading from the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 25, about the Last Judgement,” Msgr Daly said, before reading out some of those verses.
The monsignor ended with: “Just as you did it to one of the least of those who are members of my family, you did it unto me.”
“Jim was always motivated by his Christian principles, in his personal and political life,” Msgr Daly continued. “He was a person who acted on them, rather than talk about them.”
“From his days in the Catholic Youth Movement in Auckland, to his death, Christian principles dictated his decisions. Jim believed that God remakes the world with our deeds, not with our intentions.
“What distinguishes real faith from religious piety is whether a person does what they say they believe. The problem for Christianity is so many Christians don’t do it or live it.”
Mr Anderton, who was Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand from 1999-2002, died in Christchurch aged 79, just two weeks short of his 80th birthday.
At the funeral, Msgr Daly spoke on the true mission of a Christian. “Each Christian is meant to bring the world to Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ to the world. That is a big task.”
Msgr Daly noted that in the pastoral area of Christchurch South, there is a Carmelite monastery.
A great Carmelite renewal was carried out by St Teresa of Avila, “who said God doesn’t look so much at the greatness of our works as at the love with which they are done”.
“Jim didn’t just do big things like Kiwibank, he also cared a great deal about people down the street or around the corner,” Msgr Daly said. “Jim tried to put into practice the teaching that we heard in the reading from James that one’s works demonstrate one’s faith. Jim knew the story of the Good Samaritan well. He was truly a neighbour to so many people who came to him for help, whether they were living in the electorate or somewhere else. He was especially understanding of those who were disadvantaged and were unable to speak for themselves.
“Jim made a big difference to the lives of so many in this electorate, and elsewhere. Everyone knew that if they were having difficulty with a government department or bureaucracy somewhere, all they had to do was to make an appointment at his electorate office, and he would sort it out for them.”
Msgr Daly continued: “He was conscious of the gap between rich and poor. He was conscious of foreign banks reaping big profits out of Kiwis. He had a strong sense of the common good and always opposed an individualism and selfishness that permeates so much of our society. Lots of people made compromises to be liked or to get advancement. Jim did not do that. He was a man of principle who did not sell himself out to the highest bidder.
“He was faithful to what he believed and died as God’s true and faithful servant. Jim truly believed in the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead.”