2 Thess 3:6-12, 16 Ps 95 Mt 25:14-30
My dear young Friends,
I am delighted to be with you today to celebrate the commencement of the 2015 school year. I expect that you have come to Galen College this year full of hope in what you will learn, and in the friendships you will make over these next months. Galen College has a magnificent tradition of commitment, faithfulness to responsibility, and creativity in educating hundreds of young people and setting them well on the path of life.
Your school motto ‘faith and integrity’ gives you great guidance in how you should aim to live your life and make your own contribution to the spirit of the Galen School community.
This is a Catholic school, so besides your subject curriculum you will learn about Jesus, his words, his actions, and what it means to follow Jesus: that is to be a true Christian.
St Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians, which we have just read, shows how difficult it was for some of these very early Christians to understand what living like Jesus was really about.
The Thessalonians were new believers - they had not had much time to be conformed to the character of Christ, and so they did not have a clear understanding of the second coming of Christ. They thought that this was to be very soon, so they stopped working to wait for this marvelous event. Therefore, St Paul had to set them straight, and in doing so, he put before them some admonitions against idleness and disunity. At the same time, he encouraged them to persevere in works of faith.
The Christians of the first century had to stand up, show the world around them who they were and what they believed.
Today’s Gospel encourages us to remember that we serve a good God and an exciting God, who is always calling us to participate with him in his work. In our language, the word “talents” refers to the gifts and abilities God has given us.
In writing this Gospel, St Matthew wanted to wake up the early Christians and encourage them to a courageous life in a somewhat hostile world. Christians were not liked in those days. They risked being persecuted and killed as Jesus was- so they sometimes took great risks for their Faith.
We know that everything we have comes from God and belongs to Him. We are responsible for putting to good use, our situations and our talents so that they increase in value. As Christians, we have additionally the most valuable resource of all – the Word of God. If we believe and understand Him, and apply His Word as good stewards, we are a blessing to others and the value of what we do multiplies. The reward is based on faithfulness, not on the size of the responsibility. Even the smallest tasks will receive reward if we are faithful in them.
Do you remember St Paul’s concluding farewell wish for the Thessalonians? May the Lord of peace himself, give you peace all the time and in every way.
What kind of peace does Jesus offer? The peace of Christ is more than the absence of trouble. It includes everything that makes for our highest good.
That peace is given to you and me! We do have to be responsible for being diligent in our lives and we are called to live by the Gospel values. However, we do not ever need to feel alone, as Jesus is with us, encouraging us each step of the way. It means we do not have to be upset and anxious, weary and worried. Jesus offers the peace that conquers our fears and anxieties. Nothing can take us from the peace and joy of Jesus, if we have faith, trust him and talk to him often about our lives.
So, today we should remember also, that Catholic secondary colleges, such as Galen College are part of the work of the Catholic Church and share in its mission of spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ, just as St Paul and other disciples did with the very early Christians. Galen College has invited you as their students and your families into an educational setting that situates learning in a context that goes beyond knowledge and skills to wisdom and a vision for life that is formed in faith and integrity and in the context of Gospel values.
So, as we start this new year, let us ask ourselves: in 2015, here at Galen College how will I live my life with faith and integrity, making the most of my life and living in the peace of Jesus Christ?
We know our faith is real if, upon leaving this Eucharist, we have courage and energy to go about our daily life without fear and with encouragement to live with integrity. This integrity means that we love others in the way God loves us.
I pray that your year will be blessed by generosity, activity, love, faith and above all peace and hope for the future.
Bishop Leslie Tomlinson