Homily: Blessing of Sister Aloysius Martyn Arts Centre Catherine McAuley College, Coolock Campus 10th May, 2019

 Blessing of Sister Aloysius Martyn Arts Centre
Catherine McAuley College, Coolock Campus
10th May, 2019

Matt 5: 1b-2; 13-16

Catherine McAuley College is a Mercy school that offers an unparalleled learning experience for students across its two Bendigo campuses, St Mary's and here at the 7-9 campus in Coolock.

The College has a proud tradition dating back to 1876 when Sister Aloysius Martyn and the Sisters of Mercy arrived in Bendigo. Whilst we continue to honour and embrace our rich history, the College maintains its program of innovative building developments across both campuses. Today, it gives me great pleasure to be with you all for the blessing and development of the Sister Aloysius Martyn Arts Centre. Named in honour of one of the pioneering Mercy Sisters who came to Bendigo in 1876, the learning spaces in this contemporary facility are designed to provide enhanced learning opportunities to enrich our students’ skills and educational pathways, today and into the future.

Today in the Gospel we receive an important instruction on the mission of the community. It should be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Salt does not exist for itself, but to give flavour to the food. Light does not exist for itself, but for the service of people. At the time when St Matthew wrote his Gospel, this mission was very difficult for the communities of converted Jews.

Although they were living in faithful observance of the Law of Moses, they were expelled from the synagogues, cut away from their Jewish past. Regarding this, among the converted pagans, some said, “After the coming of Jesus, the Law of Moses has become obsolete.” All this caused tension and uncertainty. The openness of some seemed to be criticism of the observance of others, and vice versa. This conflict brought about a crisis which led many to become adamant in their own position. Some wanted to advance, to go ahead, while others wanted to place the light under the table. Many asked themselves, “In the final analysis, what is our mission?” Recalling and updating the words of Jesus, St Matthew tries to help them.

By using images of daily life, with simple and direct words, Jesus makes known what the mission is and the reason for being a Christian community: to be salt. At that time, when it was very hot, people and animals needed to consume much salt. The salt, which was delivered by merchants in great blocks in the public square, was consumed by the people. What remained fell to the ground and lost its flavour. “It no longer serves for anything, but it is thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.” Jesus recalls this practice in order to clarify for the disciples the mission which they have to carry out.

Then we have Jesus mention of the Light of the world. The comparison is obvious. Nobody lights a candle and places it under the tub. A city built on the hill top cannot be hidden. And so we might say, the school community should be the light; it should enlighten. It should not be afraid to show the good that it does. It does not do it to make itself seen, but so that what it does can be seen.

The salt does not exist for itself. The light does not exist for itself. This is how the community, and indeed a school, should be. It cannot remain enclosed in itself. “Your light must shine in people’s sight, so that seeing your good works, they may give praise to your Father in Heaven.”

Salt and light are taken for granted today. We have salt in all of our food and electric lights at any time. Through modern travel and technology, our school community can be seen (observed) by those next door or by other people or school communities across the globe. Is our school community a “city on a hill” for the worldwide community? Perhaps a good question for students in this new space might be: How can we in these learning spaces, be salt and light for someone nearby as well as in another country?

Those Jesus sent on the mission went out and did not sit at home or in an office waiting to be visited. How do we “go out” to meet others and other communities near and far on our mission?

Jesus tells us: “You are the light of the world.” This is actually a kind of job description of a Christian. However, it is not only to maintain personal holiness, but also to touch the lives of everyone around us. At school and at work, we touch many people who do not encounter Christ. Keep in mind, that school may be our most effective place to witness to Christ.

Jesus said our light is not necessarily in the witness of our words, but in the witness of our deeds—our “good works.” When we live as people of blessing, we are salt and light—in the workplace, in our homes, and in our nation. May God bless us all as we strive to live out our ‘job description’ as Christians!
The Sister Aloysius Martyn Arts Centre seems an ideal space in which to reflect and work on living as ‘salt and light’. And as we commence to bless this building, I congratulate all who have had the inspiration and completed the planning and building of this Arts Centre, which I am sure will give very positive sign of the light of education which is provided here at Catherine McAuley College, Coolock Campus at Junortoun.