A feature of these trips has been the opportunity to meet with Bishops, Priests, members of Religious Orders and lay Catholics who have dedicated their lives to sharing the message of Jesus to the world, particularly those who are in greatest need.
I was reminded of this when reflecting on this Sunday’s scripture readings, particularly the Second Reading and the Gospel.
In the Gospel Jesus returns to his home town and preaches in the synagogue where the people are amazed at his wisdom. However they are also critical of his time spent in other areas of the Middle East where the faithfulness to the Jewish faith was non-existent or severely compromised. There is an expectation that he should be more focused on his own people and perform the miracles with them that he had accomplished with the non-believers. That well known phrase “…no prophet is ever accepted in his own country” features in this extract from Luke’s Gospel. Jesus highlights how, even in the time of the prophets, outreach to the marginalised, disadvantaged and non-believers was evident.
In St Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians there is that equally well known passage often used at Weddings that the greatest of all gifts is love. “In short there are three things that last: faith, hope and love; and the greatest of these is love”.
What I have experienced in those three countries mentioned above is exactly that, the love of God for his people being lived out in the commitment of so many people to those in the greatest need, the poor, the marginalised, the sick and those deprived of educational opportunity.
The Bishops of NSW and the ACT in their pastoral letter on Catholic schools (Catholic Schools at a Crossroads) emphasised that Catholic schools were not just the domain of those who are faithful to the teachings and practices of the Church but were schools for all.
As staff in Catholic Schools and in the Catholic Schools Office we are charged with a twofold purpose. The first is to reach out in love to all those who seek a Catholic school education and to reflect the joy of the Gospel in how we do that.
We are also charged with the responsibility of ensuring that the message that Jesus taught and that has continued to be taught for over two thousand years is passed on to the modern generation of the baptised and those who seek out Catholic schooling.
This requires of all of us a commitment to living the message of the Gospel in everything we do in our schools. To those charged with the responsibility of teaching the various religion courses we offer, there is an expectation that this teaching will be delivered with depth of knowledge, passion for the subject and learning experiences that ensure that the students develop a deep understanding of the teachings of the Church.
As we commence the first full school week of the school year I commit the full support of the Catholic Schools Office to assist you in this vital component of Catholic Education.