Homily: CEO Jubilarians’ Mass St Kilian’s Church, Bendigo

CEO Jubilarians’ Mass
St Kilian’s Church, Bendigo
10th May, 2019

Acts 9:1-20 and & John 6:52-59

While the world has changed dramatically for all of us since your years of service began, the values and ideals that brought you to the vocation of education are as old as the New Testament and as modern as tomorrow.

On behalf of all present, I greet each one of you Jubilarians with gratitude for your commitment and service to Catholic Education. For all these years leading to this celebration of your Jubilee, you have carried out an especially appreciated service to the Gospel, which you have well integrated into the various social and pastoral realities of Catholic Education. Therefore, on behalf of the Diocese of Sandhurst, I thank you for your dedication to Jesus Christ, for your commitment to the Church, and for your service in Catholic Education.

Catholic Education and the world, interact in a context that is culturally and socially diverse. This demands of you courageous fidelity to the charism that distinguishes you as a Catholic Educator.

Each one of us has been baptised, most of us at a very early age. However, becoming a Christian is not just a once for all event. We have just read of the conversion of St Paul. The process of conversion to a deeper following of Christ is something that can and should continue right through our lives. It took a thunderbolt, an unsaddling, and sudden blindness, to bring a change of heart in Saul. This incident we have just read is the first of three accounts of Paul’s conversion. That Luke would narrate this conversion three times is testimony to the importance he attaches to it. The emphasis in the account is on Paul as a divinely chosen instrument.

It is also important to realise that, like Paul, every one of us is called not just to take care of our own spiritual wellbeing but that our following of Christ is something that calls on us to share that message with people around us, “to proclaim the Gospel to every creature”. I think we all appreciate the relevance of this with regard to our work in educating the young people in our Catholic Schools.

Today’s Gospel is very much saying “Jesus’ love for you is real and not mere words”. We can really take this love into our hearts and be nourished by Him. He really is food for our being. The message of Jesus is that he is our life, he is the pathway leading to life, he is the inner truth of our existence, and he is the very substance of eternal life. Only by embracing his message, consuming his words in the most profound sense, as we try to do in prayer, and encountering him in the mystery of the Eucharist, can we have true life in ourselves.

Our Eucharist is primarily a community celebration of what we are – brothers and sisters who are the Body of Christ for each other and for the whole world. Jesus’ flesh and blood come to us through the Word that we hear during the Eucharistic Liturgy, as well as during the sharing of the Bread and the Cup. However, Jesus also comes to us through every loving experience that we have in our faith community. The Eucharist is not the whole of our eating and drinking of the body and blood of Christ. It is the sacramental celebration pointing to our total experience of meeting Jesus in our lives. It is something, which should be happening all through our day wherever we are, whatever we are doing.

Today – as Church built upon the faith in the Risen Lord – we are Easter witnesses to the power of life over death, of good over evil, of hope over despair, of love over hatred, and of healing over brokenness. In the anguish of modern society, we proclaim that grace prevails over wickedness through the victory of Jesus Christ.

As Easter people, we are witnesses that Jesus of Nazareth has been confirmed as the Lord and Messiah. Indeed, by our life of holiness and prayer, of charity and service, we invite people to submit to the saving hand of God, who brings life from death, and transforms our brokenness and sadness into beauty, healing and grace.

Finally, you probably find it hard to believe such a significant number of years has passed so relatively quickly, as you look back through the happy times, the difficult times, the inspiring times and the rewarding times of your career in Catholic education.

Under God and through God we all find that many miracles of grace have happened on our journey, both to us and to those to whom we have the privilege of ministering. While this is abundantly clear in hindsight, nevertheless we still have to progress in darkness and faith, yet confident because of past blessings.

So dear Jubilarians, savour the journey up until now and give thanks to the Lord. We all share with you the prayer asking God to “recharge the batteries” for the rest of the journey ahead of you. May the Lord enable you to continue to be a great witness to his love as you exercise your important ministry in Catholic education, with your characteristic commitment, compassion and good humour.

May I express my deep gratitude to you for your significant service in the Diocese of Sandhurst? Congratulations, and may God bless you all with peace of mind and heart, as you continue your journey in Catholic Education.