Homily: Catholic Education Office Sandhurst - Staff Commencement of Year Mass

Catholic Education Office Sandhurst
Staff Commencement of Year Mass - St Kilian’s Church

23rd January, 2019

Heb 7:1-17; Mark 3:1-6

I am delighted to welcome you all to this celebration of Eucharist, as we gather to seek God’s blessing on our efforts for Catholic Education in the Diocese of Sandhurst in this new year of 2019.

This is also an opportunity to reflect on the fact that Catholic Education is a task that we embrace. The child is at the centre of our care, and indeed in our work with others when we work as a team in the child’s best interests. We hope to do this in a spirit of selflessness, gentleness and patience, and in an atmosphere of peace which binds us together.

More and more the Catholic school has to elicit renewed support and cooperation between school, parents and parish community. All those who serve in Catholic education, as leaders, as teachers, as members of Boards of management and other roles in the service of the school, are to ensure that the young person is seen in a unified fashion. More than ever, we need to take into consideration the different worlds to which he or she belongs and within which the child seeks to build up a healthy sense of identity, value and self-esteem. Nowhere is this cooperation more important than in the area of religious education where the child needs to develop his or her bond between faith and real life.

In order to do this effectively, we must continually work on our own faith understandings. In our Gospel today, once again we see Jesus in confrontation with the religious leaders. It follows the same pattern as before between him and his critics, here simply referred to as “they”, although it is quite clear who “they” are.

The scene is in the local synagogue. Once again, “they” were looking for evidence with which to convict Jesus. They were watching to see if Jesus would cure a man with a withered hand on a Sabbath day. There is every likelihood that the man was “planted” in what the Americans call a “set up”.

There is no doubt that Jesus is fully aware of what is happening. Unhesitatingly, he tells the man to come out and stand in the middle of the assembly. Then he puts his question: “Is it against the Law on the Sabbath to do good, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill?”

His opponents are reduced to silence. They have neither the honesty nor the integrity to give the obvious answer to the question.

Jesus’ question leaves the others without knowing what to say. Jesus asks, “Is it permitted on the Sabbath to do good or to do bad, to save life or to kill?” He could have asked, “On the Sabbath, is it permitted to cure: yes or no?” And in this way all would have answered, “No, it is not permitted!” But Jesus changed the question. For Him, in that concrete case, “to cure” was the same as “to do good” or “to save a life”, and not “to kill!” With His question Jesus put His finger on the wound. He denounced the prohibition of curing on the Sabbath, considering this to be a system of death. A wise question! The enemies do not know what to answer.

In another example of how Jesus shows his feelings, we are told that he was both grieved and angry at their stubborn attitude. Grieved because their attitude was so inappropriate for people who believed they were close to God. Angry because of the terrible injustice they were prepared to impose on this man. In their book, no suffering justified breaking the Law. However, for Jesus it is not a matter of keeping or breaking laws but of doing good. There is much for us to reflect on here! The story once again highlights the difference between morality and law.

We see in this Gospel story how Jesus had to deal with a lot of opposition to his plans to create a more caring and just environment for people to live in. Jesus' anger ‘got him going', but He did not focus it on himself. He was angry because of their hardness of heart towards the sick man. His anger came from his love and urgent desire to heal and to bring us into a real relationship with God. His anger then flowed into compassion for the sick man.

Good people can often seem to provoke jealousy and even hostility in others. Jesus was being watched to see what he might do, yet it did not stop him from doing good, from bringing life. Perhaps each of us might ask God for the courage I need, to do what I know to be the right thing. The great commandment is the law of love. Would people who know me, be able to say that I follow the 'law of love'?

Jesus challenged the Pharisees by healing the man with the withered hand in the Temple. In so doing, he set himself the task of inviting transformation: from a harsh interpretation of laws to a compassionate love of the poor and suffering. We are challenged to see as Jesus sees: reverencing those around us, cherishing their dignity, and attending to their needs.

As we have become followers of Jesus, we are to imitate him in his actions and so draw near to God. In our role as Catholic Educators, we are invited to reflect his loving mercy to all we live with or meet, and to rejoice in the privilege of living the new covenant, and being active in the transmission of our faith through Catholic Education.