Homily: FCJ College Benalla, Opening Mass, 2016

FCJ  College
8th March, 2016
Ezek 47:1-12; Ps 46:1-9; John 5:1-16

Anytime is a good time to celebrate our splendid Catholic schools!

I am delighted to be with you here at FCJ College Benalla, for this annual Mass, which is an occasion for us all to reflect on our responsibilities to our students, and to this school, entrusted to our care.  

We reflect today also, on the fundamental focus of education: that of enabling young people to identify and realise their God-given talents and potential, so that they might place those individual talents at the service of a common vision for our world of the future.

Teachers you are important, but students, you are the next generation, and so you are in a special way, our focus.  It is you, dear students, who will shape the future of our society.  Each of you is different.  Your teacher does not decide what talents you have; the teacher tries to help each of you to identify your own talents and help you to develop those talents. Teachers not only impart knowledge and information; but also they challenge each student to think, to ask questions and to try to understand.

However, education is not just about fostering the ability of young people to be creative and to be fulfilled for themselves. It is about enabling young people to bring their contribution to society.  So, what is the role of Catholic education; does it offer something unique?
The 2015 school report tells us that FCJ College, commits to educating students to be people of faith, courage and integrity, who live the values of compassion, honesty and justice, growing in faith and an awareness of God’s love, as life-long learners and critical thinkers.  Surely, this is what is needed in our world!
There are other goals, too, which combine to provide a framework for Catholic Education in this school. Then too, we have the guidance of Scriptures, from which we all learn throughout our journey as Christians.
At first glance, today’s readings are a little difficult to understand. The symbolism of water though is interesting, if we remember that In the Middle East, desert land was commonplace and water was all-important. Water is often used in the bible as a symbol of God’s saving grace.
As Ezekiel gazed upon the river, what started as a stream from under the threshold of the Temple became a raging river as it flowed. That story and the growth of the river reveals the stages of life within the Christian journey, and our access to God’s saving grace.
Many people in their life’s journey have made the decision to step out in faith into the waters of salvation, but they have never gone beyond ankle deep water. Many are still wading in the shallows. We have to think about how committed we will be in our life’s journey. We have to choose to accept the loving mercy of God in our lives and go more deeply into the waters of our Faith.
Today’s Gospel invites us during this Lenten season to experience the healing power of Jesus, which was initiated at our Baptism but which needs to continue for as long as we live.

St John tells us that Jesus was healing those who were ill. We all fail at times to be our best selves and we need to seek the healing power of Jesus in our lives. This is particularly in focus in this Jubilee Year of Mercy.

As we are now in Lent, which is a special time for reconciliation, we might ask ourselves:  is there anything holding me back from the Lord's healing power and transforming grace in my life? In the pool we see an individual's helplessness overcome by Jesus’ mercy and power.  

On this occasion Jesus singles out an incurable invalid, helpless for almost forty years.  He awakens hope when he puts a probing question to the man, "Do you really want to be healed?"  And Jesus then orders him to "get up and walk!" God will not force our hand against our will.  The first essential step towards growth and healing for any of us is the desire for change.

Sometimes we can be almost unaware of what causes us to ‘miss the mark’ in being a good Catholic: a Good Christian! However, we know that when we do need forgiveness, the mercy of God is there for us to be reconciled. Again, it is all about our choice!

So, at the beginning of this school year, it’s not a bad time to take a look and see if we are on the right path to achieve our goals to be people of faith, courage and integrity. Are we really peopled who live the values of compassion, honesty and justice? If we are unsure, or a bit hesitant, remember, it takes an act of faith to change, and a will to change for good. Let’s do it!

Let’s do all we can and choose to be the best people that we can possibly be!