Homily: St Mary of The Angels College, Nathalia - End of School Year Mass

St Mary of The Angels College, Nathalia
End of School Year Mass
23rd October, 2018

Ephesians 2:12-22 Luke 12: 32-48

Another year is coming to its close and I believe almost everyone here is eagerly waiting for school holidays. I am so pleased to be here with you to celebrate the end of the school year Mass, and farewell the Year 12 Students with our prayers and good wishes. Yes, we do have many things to celebrate at this time of the year – but it is not the end of our learning time!

No matter what age we are, no matter where we come from, no matter what our fears or our hopes are, every day of every month can be a learning day; for the truth is that we never stop learning. Our minds and our souls have a great appetite to learn new things.

I am certain that at St Mary of the Angels school this year, students have been nurtured, educated, gained wisdom and knowledge, formed friendships and enduring relationships, grown in faith, in hope, and in love. During this Mass, we have read two very interesting passages from the New Testament – a Gospel from St Luke and a letter from St Paul which remind us of some important things to remember as we go ‘on holidays’.

At the time St Luke was writing his Gospel, the early Church expected the imminent return of Jesus Christ. Jesus emphasized that the time of his return would be a surprise. He made the comparison to the return of a master coming home from a wedding, expecting to find his servants vigilant on his arrival, and to the coming of a thief, when his return would be uncertain. He pointed to the uncertain hour of his arrival by telling his disciples to be prepared whenever he might come. The faithful servants who watched over the household (the Church) would be rewarded for their fidelity when the master returned.

One could almost say that Jesus was setting a test! I remember when I was a student, teachers gave us lots of tests. I think you would have some these days too! I know some of you would have had NAPLAN earlier in the year and VCE tests at present are special and important for the seniors students.

But some of the most interesting and important tests are not the kind given on paper but are the tests of character that happen from time to time. Just think: when a teacher leaves the room, this is a quick test of the character of the students. Do you all they keep working quietly as you are supposed to, or would some go your own way and ignore what you know the teacher expects?

In a similar way, there is a test in this life that we as Christians have all been given, a test that Jesus addresses in his teaching this morning from St Luke’s Gospel. The test begins with our knowledge that the Lord is not physically among us. While we see that Jesus is not with us physically at the moment, we have His promise that He will return. The problem is that we don’t know when, and so we’re tempted to go our own way in the meantime.
In this Gospel passage think of Jesus, the Teacher, as He prepares you for this test and asks the question: “What will you do in My absence’?

Jesus is telling us that in His absence, we must be wise and watchful. We are God’s servants waiting, not knowing when the master might return.

The wise steward is one who watches for his Master, and he is dressed and ready to go. His lamp is burning, and he is ready even at night, even in the dark. He has not let his attention slip away from his one sacred task, which is to watch for the Master.

In his book, First Things First, the famous writer, Stephen Covey, talks about a kind of competition between things that are important and things that are urgent. The things that are important and urgent usually get done, except by irresponsible people. But what of the other 3 kinds of things – the unimportant but urgent, the important but not urgent, and the unimportant and not urgent?

I am sure that Students at St Mary of the Angels are quite responsible people and also experts on social media. It is really good to know how to use the internet and keep in touch with our friends – and to make notes to remind us to do things. Maybe you might like to try making a note on your phone to remind you to say a little prayer to your friend Jesus – so you can keep in touch! You might use Stephen Covey’s list of ‘important and urgent’. And you might be really surprised at what happens if you do keep in touch with Jesus, as these two readings today show us that Jesus is there for us, we are part of God’s household with him!

Just as we see in the Gospel, Jesus as one who has come to serve, St Paul, too, in the Letter to the Ephesians reiterates that it is Jesus who has “come to serve, not to be served”. These words directed to the Ephesians also have a meaning for us. We belong, we are part of God's household, and God dwells in us. The question is: Can I listen to this message, and take reassurance and strength from it?

We belong here, as children taking our places at the family table. The dignity that I am given in being a member of God's household is not something that I have deserved or earned - it is God's gracious gift, given in love. I place myself in prayer before God, who attends to me as a family member.

Although I might pray alone, I am linked with so many others. I am connected, not just with those who pray now, but with the generations of apostles, saints and prophets built on the corner stone that is Christ Jesus himself.

Let us try to reflect God’s generosity by how we live and by what we say and do. This will not be too difficult if we remind ourselves – even during the coming holidays - that a word to Jesus now and then will keep us in touch with him: it is important and urgent, that we live as Jesus asks.

Congratulations on all your achievements in 2018 and particularly to the Year 12 who are leaving us. We all join in praying for the success of your VCE and the life you will build upon this foundation at St Mary of the Angels. We thank you for what you have contributed to the College in your time here, and particularly the leadership you have given in your Year 12.

I pray that you will all have a very happy Christmas and a safe and enjoyable holiday.