Homily: CEO Staff Commissioning

CEO Staff Commissioning

24th January, 2013

In his pastoral letter on the Year of Faith, which commenced in October 2012, Archbishop  Hart says:
“In our times, a renewed effort to know and witness to Jesus Christ in the context of renewed knowledge of our faith is a timely and practical way of deepening our faith, and supporting our journey.”

Coming together today, we focus on what we, as leaders in Catholic Education in the Diocese of Sandhurst, are called to do in 2013 as we continue living the Year of Faith. The celebrations are over and we are yet to move into Lent, so our liturgical calendar observes that until Ash Wednesday, we are in ‘ordinary time’. It is in this time that we  read the gospel accounts of Jesus’ miracles and in last Sunday’s Gospel, Christ's first miracle tells of the transformation of water into wine at the wedding in Cana. Importantly too, the words of Mary:  the only words of Mary to be found in the whole of John’s Gospel, deliver the powerful message:  “go, do whatever he tells you”. We know the details of the story well and the passage concludes that: ‘Jesus let his glory be known and the disciples believed in him’ (2:15). As the disciples learned more about Jesus, their faith deepened. Through this account, we see that Jesus, the Lamb of God, walks among us and transforms our lives.

If you think about that for a moment I think that you will quickly understand that you need to be men and women who are familiar with the Gospels and who ask themselves day by day, ‘what is Jesus teaching me in the words I have just read; the words that He has spoken?’

As we read the Gospels and ask this question again and again, we will find ourselves getting to know Jesus as though he were a living person standing beside us – and of course that is what Jesus is; a living person who is walking beside us in the ordinary events of our everyday lives. It is important to remember this: we live the Christian life because we know Jesus and want to follow in His footsteps.

As I quoted earlier: consider the need for renewed knowledge; for transformation, deepened faith and sincere commitment to Christ and His Church through our work in Catholic education. Contemplate the privilege of being called to be partners in the new Evangelisation! This means that as we serve in our various roles in Catholic Education in the diocese of Sandhurst, we are called by Jesus and commissioned to teach as He taught.

This is awesome and could be quite overwhelming, unless we realise that the One who sends us out, also equips us for the mission. That is why we gather in this sacred moment when He prepares us for the mission by giving us the gift of Himself in the Eucharist.

In addition, we have the Scriptures, Church Documents and the lives of the saints which are full of insight and teaching for us. Reflection on the lives of the saints tells us to how others before us have lived their lives commissioned to teach as Jesus did!

Today, January 24th, we celebrate the feast of Saint Frances de Sales, Bishop and Doctor of the Church. After quite a spiritual crisis in his young life, seventeen year old Francis Sales came to the conclusion that whatever God had in store for him was good, because he took for himself the message of the Scriptures: ‘God is love’, His faithful devotion to the God of love not only expelled his doubts, but also influenced the rest of his life and his teachings. In spite of his father’s hope that he would follow a business career, he completed university studies in law and theology and was ordained a priest in 1592. Some ten years later on the death of Bishop Granier, Sales was consecrated Bishop of Geneva.

Francis was equally known as a friend of the poor and a man of almost supernatural affability and understanding. These last qualities come through in Sales' books, the most famous of which was Introduction to the Devout Life, which - unusual for the time - was written especially for laypeople. There are many reminders in this work for us even in today’s modern world. For instance, in his writings, he counseled charity over penance as a means of progressing in the spiritual life. He died in late December and was buried on 24 January 1623.

You and I will probably not write such spiritual books, but the world needs our testimony in word and deed. However, there is an old saying: ‘you can’t give what you haven’t got’, so we need to accept the challenge to transform ourselves: to change the water into wine in our own lives. And so, as we begin a new year in Catholic education, I pray God will bless you in your vocations, in your task of giving testimony to the love of God in our world, and in the privileged realm of forming new witnesses through your earnest efforts for our Catholic schools in the diocese of Sandhurst. And as we read today in St Paul’s letter to Timothy, I charge you to : ‘Accept the strength that comes from Jesus; hand it on to reliable people so that they in turn will be able to teach others’ And do reflect on those precious words of Mary, the mother of Jesus – and our mother : ‘Go, do whatever Jesus tells you’.