2-4 August 2011 - Catholic Education Week

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Home > Archbishop > Homilies > 2-4 August 2011 - Catholic Education Week

Catholic Education Week
2-4 August 2011

One sometimes hears a story about people who have known about another person, but years go by before they actually become acquainted. There are people who travel on the same train day after day, who sit in the same carriage, who alight at the same station, but it takes some incident, perhaps an emergency, for them to actually become acquainted with those they see very day. It sometimes happens that people live in the same street for many years, but the acquaintance only begins when someone invites everyone to a neighbourhood Christmas party.

Sadly we hear of examples at times of people who attend the same church for years even, before the ice is broken, and friendships form. Once that ice has been broken, then for everyone, the experience is very different. It is the experience of no longer knowing of someone, but actually knowing them. In the time of Jesus, many questions must have been asked about this wonderful person who had appeared in the community, a person who “spoke with authority” Even the disciples must have wondered just who was this person, with whom they had become so closely associated. And Jesus must have wondered just how they were coping with this totally new experience.

So he took the initiative and asked the question: what are people saying about me? Who do they think I am? There were a number of answers forthcoming, and then Jesus made it a very personal question to Peter. “And who do you think I am? Peter came out with as good an answer as could be expected” “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” From that point, his relationship with Jesus was totally different. Peter had not given that answer because some clever person explained it to him. He knew that Jesus was the Son of God, because he had been given the gift of faith by God
himself. Faith opened a door for Peter to really know Jesus in a way that learning had not done for the Jewish teachers before him.

In many ways, Peter was a disastrous choice for the foundation of the Church. He was uneducated and foolish. But Jesus did not want a man whose life was devoted to understanding the ways of the world. He wanted a man who had faith – who would allow God to work through him.

We see something of a similar situation in the time of Moses. Things were not going well for him or for the people at the time. Miriam, his wife, had died, which was sad for him. But the effects of a lack of water were beginning to impact on the
lives of the people. They were beginning to complain, saying that it would have been better to remain back in Egypt rather than attempting this walk through the desert with no chance to grow their grain, plant their vines, harvest their fruit. Seemingly there was not even water to drink, so it was all quite serious.

But Moses kept faith in God and believed that eventually all would be well. He and his brother Aaron went to speak to God about the situation, and they message they received was encouraging – Moses was given specific directions about what to
do, and the water started to flow. Moses may have been grappling with the question about who God is, but he did receive an answer.

What was true for Peter, and for Moses, is also true for ourselves. It is not a question so much of us reaching to God, but of God reaching out to us. It involves us being able to say, as well as Peter “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God”. I
believe that it is one of the most fundamental questions we face through life: Who is Jesus of each of us, for you and for me? It is a question that is always there, it never goes away. We might ignore it, or avoid it, but it still keeps popping up on the screen.

We can never successfully delete it. But it is also true that the question “who do you say I am”, is put to us by
everyone that we meet. What would their answer be? Is it that we make them welcome, or do we give the impression that they are taking up our time, that we would sooner be talking to someone more interesting, or good-looking, or doing
something more exciting. Some people have made it a matter of highest importance, that they give their undivided attention to the person they are talking to at the moment. No one else matters at that time.

The theme of this Mass is “Responding to the call” – a very important invitation for us all to respond to the call of God, and to the call of everyone else as well. I wish to commend all those who support Catholic Education, parents and priests, teachers and support staff, the Director and staff of the Catholic Education Office, for a particularly strong response to the call. There is much for which we can be grateful today, and much to celebrate during this important week, Catholic
Education Week 2011.