We Are Doing It For Someone

(Homily for Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C)

Bottom line: Mother Teresa summed up the mission of our parish school: We are not doing it for something, we are doing it for Someone.

In a Wednesday audience Pope John Paul I told the story of an Irish carpenter. It is not a laugh out loud story, but like many stories from Ireland, it begins with tragedy and ends with humor - and hope. The tragedy is that the Irish carpenter falls from a roof and breaks both legs. When they take him to the hospital, a nun tries to console him. "Poor man," she says, "your hurt yourself terribly when you fell." In spite of his pain, the carpenter replies, "No, Sister. It wasn't the fall that hurt me. It was when I arrived at the ground." You know that guy will not be down for long.

We see something similar in today's Gospel. Jesus' public ministry begins with a disaster. Think about it. Of his entire time on earth, Jesus spent about 90% in Nazareth. The Nazarenes knew him intimately - or at least they thought they did. When he stood up to do the reading, the people at first reacted with delight. But then came a change. He told them something that shocked them. This prophecy of Isaiah, he said, has been fulfilled...in me. At those words the Nazarenes wanted to kill him.

That kind of rejection could easily end a career. If I can't convince my own townspeople and relatives, who can I convince? Jesus, however, did not throw in the towel. Recalling his mission (what we heard last week) he lifted up his head and went to the nearby towns.

This a great lesson for you and me. When we get discouraged, when people reject us, we have the tendency to crawl into a hole. But if we follow Jesus, we will see that as an opportunity to refocus our mission: Why am I here? What does God want from me.

That is what we are doing this year in our parish school. Many of you know we are going through what is called the accreditation process. The first step involves writing a mission statement.* In doing that we - myself, the principal, the faculty and staff - took up the motto of the Providence Sisters who staffed Holy Family School for decades. Their motto, taken from St. Pauís Second Letter to the Corinthians (5:14), states, The Love of Christ impels us. What we do begins and ends in Christ. Our mission is to bring his saving love to our children and their families.

Our school mission can be illustrated by a story from the life of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta. When she opened a house to care for men living with AIDS, a reporter asked if her sisters talked to the patients about God. "Of course," she said, "We pray with them and teach them to pray. We take them to confession to be reconciled with God."

A bit scandalized, the reporter said, "But many people think that evangelization does not always mean talking about Jesus."

"And who do they think we should talk about?" asked Mother Teresa.

"They say it is enough to simply accompany them," replied the reporter.

"Well then," said Mother Teresa, "They are not missionaries. They are not proclaiming Christ. They are doing it for something, but we are doing it for Someone."

Brothers and sisters, our Catholic school exists not for something, but for Someone "The Love of Christ impels us." We want to bring that saving love to our children and their families.

Now that is tall order, especially when we realize the negative forces working against our students and families. It seems like the devil is working overtime to drive a wedge between parents and children. And we can easily become discouraged by the tepid response of many people - and by our own weaknesses. People today are no different than the Nazarenes. But if we are united with Jesus, we will lift up our heads and re-focus on the mission given to us. After all, we are not doing it for something, but for Someone.

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*The accreditation process also involved setting Schoolwide Learning Expectations, that is, what we want our graduates to be. First on the list is that Holy Family School graduates are Faithful Christian Disciples. Specifically we want them to:

  • Know, understand and practice Catholic traditions, Scripture, beliefs, history and morals.
  • Actively participate in their Catholic faith and sacramental living.
  • Demonstrate a willingness and ability to serve others respectfully and selflessly.
  • Represent their faith with courage, devotion, and dignity both inside and outside their academic environment.

    The four other Schoolwide Learning Expectations are that Holy Family graduates are: Lifelong Learners, Effective Communicators, Responsible Students and Active Members of a Diverse Community.

    Spanish Version

    From Archives (Homilies for Fourth Sunday, Year C):

    2016: New Beginning: Living God's Plan
    2013: Spiritual Combat
    2010: Three Levels of Love
    2007: We Are Doing It For Someone
    2004: Love is a Decision
    2001: Standing Against the Culture
    1998: Catholic Schools Week

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