Build the tower - GYC Graduation Mass 2018

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Home > Archbishop > Homilies > Build the tower - GYC Graduation Mass 2018

Forty-four years ago, on Sunday the 8th of September 1974, I stood up in the pulpit of my parish church, St Kevin’s Eastwood in Sydney, to preach my first homily as a newly ordained priest.

The Gospel passage that was read on that Sunday was the same as the one we have read this evening.

I was a newly ordained priest. I had just completed seven years of study and formation. I had heard the call to be a priest when I was in primary school. Now I was a priest. This was my first homily. And the words of the Lord in the Gospel reading stirred my heart. 

What seized my attention was the image of a man planning to build a tower. The Lord said that it was wise that the man should first sit down and figure out whether he was able to complete the task before him. It was a moment for me to think about my future. I was about to embark on my vocation as a priest. Would I be able to complete the task I had embraced for my life?

Forty-four years later I can say, with humility and gratitude, that I am still a priest, still engaged in the ministry which I have no doubt was to be my life’s work and worth.

However, then, as a 25-year-old I had no idea of what was to lay ahead. I was full of hope and expectation. I was keen to commence my ministry as a priest. I looked to the future with a certain keenness. I wanted to get on with the job.

I had made the decision then that I would not try to engineer my future but would be a servant of the Church and do whatever would be asked of me.

However, I don’t think I seriously asked myself whether I had the capacity to complete what I was about to undertake, or what would be expected of me.

As I look back I can see that I had no idea of what would lay ahead. I was full of hope and ready to embrace whatever would come to pass. I knew deep inside that this was my life, my calling. I had a sense then, and it has grown strongly since, that God was with me in the enterprise.

Now, when I look back over the years I can see that there was a hand guiding me. I know that a Merciful God was watching over my life. I have erred many times. I have fallen short. I have not always seen the way. But I have sensed that there has been a hand there all the time, gently yet firmly leading me in the right direction.

Did I have all that was needed to complete the tower? Yes and no. Really I did not know what my life’s calling would entail. I was keen to engage in the task, but I did not have all that was required – and still don’t. However, I can see so clearly now that my deficiencies were compensated for. I can see that I was nudged in the right direction. I can see that what I lacked was supplied.

So 44 years on I am still on the path, and I embrace my path with joy and hope. I am still realising the call on my life. I am still in the mix. I am happy to be where I am.

My dear graduands, your future lies before you. Now is a moment of significant transition in your life. In the image of the Gospel you are to build a tower, the structure of your life and future. It is exciting and daunting. You have no idea of what may lie ahead.

However, know that you do not need to go on alone. There is One who is with you. One who wants to guide you. One whose hand will gently but firmly guide you. Sometimes this hand will protect you from disaster and draw you from darkness and uncertainty. However, you need to allow this One to guide your life.

You have been loved into life by the One who created you and you have been endowed with an immortal soul. He, the Lord, wants to walk with you as you embrace your future.

Can you build the tower? Yes and no. Yes, you have many personal gifts and talents. Yes, you have drive and imagination. Yes, you have hopes and inspirations.

But like every human being you have your flaws and weaknesses. You will inevitably go through times of darkness and uncertainty. At times you will take false paths.

There is One who will walk always with you. There is One who will be by your side whether you know it or not. Even if right now you dismiss Him or reject Him, He is ever faithful. You may desert Him, but He will never desert you. He will always be there waiting and ready.

Can you build the tower? Yes, if you know that your limitations will not deny what is possible. There is One who only wants to help you.

His name is Jesus Christ. He said that he came that you may have life. He said that he is the way, the truth and the life. He said that a man can have no greater love than to lay down his life for his friend. And He has done this for you on Calvary.

So, build the tower of your future as you go forth from GYC. Build in on the foundations laid through your education and what your family has given you.

Desire to build something beautiful, something of splendour, something really worthwhile. Set your aim high.

Build your life such that it is noble and good. Build your life such that you contribute to the good of others.

Build your life inspired by Jesus Christ, who loves you, believes in you, and wants to lead you on the path to eternity. 

Archbishop Julian Porteous
Tuesday, 6 November 2018