Homily: Catholic College Bendigo Graduation Mass, 2013

Catholic College Bendigo
Sacred Heart Cathedral

25th October, 2013

Well done to all at Catholic College Bendigo for the successful completion of another year of schooling – and special congratulations to those students who are graduating and leaving school.   I hope that you Graduands are really proud of yourselves and your accomplishments in completing your schooling. We should also acknowledge all the people who share in that pride –- your mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters; your grandparents and friends – your teachers; all of whom took this journey with you in ways both seen and unseen.  So this is their celebration too.

This is also a time when we can pause to be thankful for the excellent system of Catholic Education we have in Australia and in this Diocese of Sandhurst. It is an opportunity for us to express our gratitude for the thousands of people who have a part in running our schools. There may be some short comings in our education systems, but as we gather here for this ceremony, we witness the progress that our children make in our wonderful schools such as this College.

One of the functions of religious education in the Catholic School is to provide learners with structured opportunities to experience an encounter with Christ, so that they become increasingly able to make informed, mature response to God in faith. So, it is very relevant for us to focus for a few minutes on today’s gospel reading on the importance of effective prayer.

This Chapter in St Matthew’s Gospel is a continuation of the Sermon on the Mount, which is a very practical direction to us and our communication with God. Although he has already taught much about prayer, Christ continuing his earlier teachings here, by exhorting us to effective prayer. He emphasises the same thing under three forms of expression: Ask: and it will be given to you, Search and you will find, Knock and the door will be opened to you. And just in case  this simple message of God the Father’s love for us does not move us, Christ uses the analogy of describing the love of a parent and explains how a parent knows what is good to give children……Nothing is better to excite us to prayer than a conviction that we shall be heard. But, those who doubt, can only pray in an indifferent manner; and prayer, unaccompanied by faith, is an idle and meaningless ceremony.

Whenever we engage in prayer, or whenever we feel that our prayer is not sufficiently strong, we ought to remember the gentle invitation by which Christ assures us of God’s fatherly kindness. Each of us, trusting in the grace of Christ, will attain confidence in prayer and venture freely to call upon God. Students, parents and teachers, God has a beautiful plan for our lives. His willingness to give us his best is evident. He intends for us to ask, search, and knock with the intent of discovering and submitting to his plan. Prayer is a powerful tool when it is leveraged against outcomes that are pleasing to God.

However, we all know that learning to pray effectively, as well as creating anything meaningful takes time. Therefore, we ought to Pray; and pray often!  Make a business of prayer, and be serious and earnest in it. Indeed, we are all lifelong learners, and so my dear graduates, today I have a request to make of you, and that is:  Keep doing your best at whatever study and work you next take on.  Keep giving of yourself to others in good and supportive friendships. Keep engaging with your community. Keep close to your mother, father and family. And above all, keep close to God, and remember he is asking you to speak to him: ask Him for what you need, search for your pathway in his great plan for your life and keep knocking on his door as you speak to him about your challenges and your triumphs! Pray and pray often!

We remember that as Jesus prepared to send his disciples into the world he prayed for them. He gave thanks for the time of instruction, he asked for their protection, and looked forward to the amazing ministry they would do in his name.

Dear Graduates, this prayer becomes our own as those of us here with you now: as parents, family, friends and teachers, priests and bishop send you forth with our congratulations and blessings into important new chapters of your lives.

May the Lord bless you and keep you safe in His care.