Homily: Galen College Wangaratta Commencement of the Year Mass, 15th March, 2018

Galen College Wangaratta Commencement of the Year Mass, 15th March, 2018

Ex 32   7-14     Jn 5  31-47

 

Today I am pleased to be with you all, to ask for God’s blessing that we might be successful in doing great things this year, both individually and communally.  It is timely to remind ourselves in this first term of 2018, that whatever good we achieve in the coming year we achieve through God’s help and guidance. 

The Gospel reading today tells us that Jesus' opponents refused to accept his divine authority and claim to be the only Son from the Father. Although Jesus clearly comes in the name of his Father, he is not accepted or believed in. Furthermore, they keep looking back into their own traditions, rather than looking further to someone who clearly comes from God.

Now, we need to remember that Jesus was talking primarily to the Pharisees and Jewish leaders. They loved to study the Scriptures and discuss the finer points. They knew them inside out. They should have spotted right away that Jesus was doing the things the Messiah was prophesied to be doing. 

There are four witnesses telling us that Jesus was more than just a man: St John the Baptist, Jesus' miracles, God himself and the whole of the Bible. It is all there. Jesus is God's son, our Saviour. As we read our Scripture and listen to the God who speaks through those pages, we can both know the God who loves us for ourselves, and be ready to speak about him with others. May God speak to us through his word as we read it for ourselves.

Reading God's word is essential and even more essential, is reading it expecting God to speak to you. Expecting God to teach you, encourage you and challenge you. The Pharisees knew their scriptures, but they had not let God speak. There is a warning here for us too. What can get in the way? How much of all this applies to us? Where do we ultimately put our faith? In the Christ of the New Testament, or in a Jesus we have tailored to our own wants? How familiar are we with the Word of God in the New (and Old) Testament? Where do we clearly see the Risen Jesus bringing God into our lives every single day?

These are all big questions and have a link to power. People love to hold on to power. To really listen to God speak from his word, means recognising that the God who loves us really does know more than we do. If we love him, we will listen and act. The Pharisees for all their outward devotion did not love God at all. v42 “But I know that you do not have the love of God in you”.

Many times, we might find ourselves looking to others as our source of strength and pride. We gain our confidence through others telling us such frivolous things like, “You look great today.” Or “That was a fantastic project you did.” We sometimes tend to look to people to assure ourselves that we are good at what we do and that we are a good person. However, through reflecting on these readings today (Ex 32: 7-14) and (John 5: 31-47) I might well realize that I put a huge amount of focus on what other people think, and take little time to reflect on what God thinks. 


In St John, Jesus says, “How can you believe, when you accept praise from one another and do not seek the praise that comes from the only God? “It might be good to ask ourselves, where the emphasis is in my own life, and whose opinion do I hold onto when I get upset or down on myself.



Have you ever caught yourself saying these very words; “God doesn’t speak to me like he speaks to everyone else.” The fact of the matter is with our busy lives, we do not take the time to listen. His opinion is the one that matters the most. His opinion is the one we should hold on to when we feel down about ourselves. God loves and cares about each and every one of us; we just need to take the time to focus on Him, and He will be our guide, our strength our confidence. Why not really try to do this for 2018 …. That is my challenge to you for this year!

And so we need, at the start of this school year, to celebrate the Mass together to ask the help of Jesus so that we can learn, grow, discover new things in the coming year.  But we also need to remind ourselves that all the good that we have done and that we are now capable of doing is, in very large part, God’s gift to us.  So our achievements should make us happy, but we need also to remember to say a prayer of gratitude to God every now and then.

And, as people grateful to God for our gifts, we should seek to be gracious to others.  We should treat the struggles, tragedies, and suffering of others not with indifference, but with compassion and care. Pope Francis has reminded us that our call is to transform the globalization of indifference into the globalization of compassion and unity.

Your College emblem is a beautiful reminder that you are marked with a cross – the sign of a Christian. With faith and integrity as your guide, a loving and trusting relationship shared with God and with each other, inspires you to live according to your beliefs. And importantly, it contains a beautiful reminder that God is both our creator, our Father and our Redeemer. May the arms and hands of God enfold you in his enduring love and care for 2018 and beyond.

 

 

 

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