Homily: Galen College - Opening of School Mass , 2014

Galen College
Opening of School Mass
Tuesday, 18th February, 2014

James 1:12-18; Mark 8:14-21.  
I find the beginning of a new school year is invigorating! We leave the more restful and reflective time of summer and now face up to the challenges and pace of a new year. It’s invigorating because of the excitement of new classes, meeting new students and teachers, and undertaking new initiatives. I hope all of you find that spring in your step, and some new energy and enthusiasm as you consider all the possibilities of 2014 for you here at Galen College.

Today is not only a very pleasant occasion, but it is also very important that we all come together for this Mass at the beginning of the school year. The staff at this College, I know are dedicated to both scholarship and teaching. Teachers work hard to make your classes as inspiring as they are intellectually engaging and they spend long hours to make important contributions in their curriculum fields. I feel tremendous gratitude to all those who are committed to working in and for Catholic Education, so I am delighted to join you in asking God’s blessing on your work at Galen College this year.

Students, you are very important and we hear almost every day through the media, that we need all of our school students today here in Australia, to reach their potential: that is, to be the best person that they can possibly be! It goes without saying then, that parents and teachers also have a very important task, and that is to undertake that they will see to it that you have all the appropriate resource and support to ensure that each of you becomes your best self!

I think we all are aware that much is written and reported in the media about education. Researchers tell us that to live in the increasingly globalised world, we must all be able to comfortably interact with people and confidently move across cultures, as well as the virtual and physical worlds. To do this we all need a deep understanding of the interconnectedness and interdependence of all human beings.  In addition we need to develop a set of global skills to appreciate and accept people from other cultures and have the emotional and psychological capacity to manage the complexity of living and working in our world of today and tomorrow.

Students, many of you will be learning more about such matters in your studies this year. Many of you have already set, or are working towards goals to ensure you achieve a happy and productive life. All of this is not too easy, and sometimes we are tempted to stop doing the things that we know we should do to achieve our goals, and we are tempted to perhaps ‘slacken off’, and be distracted, or find ways to spend our time that are not in keeping with our Christian life.
So, it’s good we have St James reminding us in today’s reading to be on our guard: that maybe temptation comes in many forms. We may be tempted not to tell the truth, to take something that does not belong to us, to take advantage of someone, to gossip, to hold a grudge, to feel superior and look down on others, or to give in to that part of us that constantly wants more money and things. So how do you handle temptations? Even though people around us may not appear to be doing so, everyone is wrestling with temptation just like you and I are. We may be tempted to strike out or strike back, to feel resentment, or to respond in other ways that are harmful to us or to others.

The good news is that we can resist temptation and as Christians we understand that in adversity we may well be tried and tempted, but through prayer we can persevere. We know that Christ came on earth to save us and we know always if we seek forgiveness, that our loving God will forgive us if we do fail. Think of this when you next pray the words of the beautiful prayer, the Our Father.

As Christians, we must never forget that the centre of our life is Jesus Christ. In our second reading, St Mark tells us that Jesus performed miracle after miracle to demonstrate to his followers that he was the Christ.  Despite all the miracles the disciples still did not believe.  At this point in his mission – following two feedings of great crowds, numerous healings and walking on water and raising the dead – his disciples still weren’t convinced he was the Son of God.  Here he was moved ask his disciples again, perhaps even in exasperation:  Do you still not understand? The disciples believed Jesus was the Son of God but their understanding was incomplete. They had difficulty understanding many of the concepts Jesus brought to them. Remember, they loved Jesus but were still growing in understanding and maturity.

I am sure that like the disciples, you also love Jesus, but you need to think deeply about this and learn more about him. Galen College especially should also be a place where we make time for prayerful moments. These times of prayer are important in that they allow us to listen to the subtle promptings of the Spirit—not our spirit, but God’s Spirit—that speaks to us and guides us. We need this time; we need this guidance of the Holy Spirit to enrich our lives as Christians.
So let’s get on with the exciting, invigorating, busy work of this new school year! Let’s set high goals, and direct our individual and collective energies to achieve them. Let’s teach well, learn well, and achieve much. But let’s also listen to the Spirit, and work on your studies, but also work to deepen your understanding and relationship with Christ.

Bishop Leslie Tomlinson

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