Homily: St Mary of the Angels, Nathalia - End of School Year Mass, 2016

St Mary of the Angels, Nathalia
End of School Year Mass
Feast of St Luke 18 October

2 Tim. 4:10-17 Luke 10:1-9

I am delighted to join with you all as we gather on this feast of St Luke the evangelist, to thank God for his many blessings and for the achievements over the past year of staff, students and families of St Mary of the Angels Secondary College, Nathalia.

Thanksgiving means recognition that things have really changed. I know that through hard work and use of their skills, our young people here today have developed personally and in doing so, each has made a dedicated contribution to the school community. Today is a moment when we realise that that our gifts from God are received from him in order to be used. Just as our faith, given by the grace of God and the will of our parents at baptism, is now something that all of us here can decide to embrace fully for ourselves, we all move forward in our life’s journey.

At St Mary of the Angels I am certain that you students will agree that you have excellent teachers and leaders. Similarly, teachers will agree that right through the College at every level, there are gifted young people who are responding to the opportunities offered to them and who show their gifts, verifying the benefit of a broad education. This we know is more than the amassing of facts, but rather a preparation for all facets of life; knowing what it is to be human, to experience family, to develop intellect and to prepare for a career. Then, at the end of schooling, to be ready to move into society and to realise that in our Catholic framework we have an invitation from Jesus to ‘love one another as I have loved you’, which sharpens our attitudes to people and to things, so that we take from Jesus the ability to go forward as he would lead us.

We can detect the sadness and great disappointment in today’s pastoral letter of St Paul to his good friend, Timothy. Paul was alone in prison, deserted by most of his friends. He lamented, “Demas has deserted me for love of this life … Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm …Surely we can feel with and for St Paul, because at times we too can experience things which make us sad, like jealousy, lack of support, or loneliness. Yet, St Paul never repaid a wrong with another wrong; he chose to be faithful to his mission. How did he do this? Simply because of his personal relationship with Christ.
Furthermore, St. Luke, whose feast we celebrate today, was a good friend of Jesus. And St. Luke has proven to be our friend, by working to write an ordered account of Jesus’ life that we now have in the Gospel of Luke. He did this so that we would receive that same revelation of Christ as he did, so that we could better know Jesus and become his friends. You will all know that when you have a good friend, you speak about them and their achievements to others: friends speak about their friends. For us to be friends of Christ, we’re called to speak of him to others, but not just about him. We need to share the joys of our faith, the beauty of following Jesus. Today’s Gospel helps us to remember how to proclaim that beauty, which is why Jesus sent the apostles out two-by-two, so that they could support each other.    
As we finish our school year soon, I can give you a challenge for holiday time. One way to show that you are a friend of Jesus is the way in which you speak kindly to family and friends, and certainly by the way you behave, but also by what you write. St. Luke proclaimed the great work of God through his son Jesus by writing about it in his Gospel and in the Acts of the Apostles. So we likewise should think about how we can use our emails, our photos, our videos, our audio recordings, our tweets and posts, to show that we believe in God and importantly that we are faithful to the way Christ shows us to live. These are all ways that we can be good and loving friends of God and help to bring others, especially our friends, into the friendship with God with us. Can you accept my challenge to do this?

The final thought that I would leave you with, is that a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is essential if we are to live as he lived and to relate to others as he would have us relate with all of our gifts which we are developing here at St Mary of the Angels College. This means understanding the importance of prayer. It means understanding the importance of reflection. It means valuing the great prayer of the Mass, where we step back from daily life and open ourselves to God’s plan.

At the end of this school year we ask you Lord to bless our students as they sit their exams: may your Spirit inspire them with confidence and calmness. We give thanks for the friendships that have just begun and for those that have grown, and for the faith that has been lived in our daily struggles. Like St Paul, we give thanks for the hope that has lifted our hearts on the dark days, and for good friends like St Timothy who support us and give us the love that has kept us going.

We give thanks to God also for the support of our parents, for all the teaching and learning that has taken place in our school, both in and out of the classroom, and for the talents and gifts that have been shared, for the challenges that have been faced, and for the burdens that have been lifted and the hurts that have been healed throughout the year, and especially for the respect and care that has been given throughout the school community.
We ask the Lord to bless you all abundantly and keep you in his loving care.