Third Sunday in Ordinary Time A: Catholic Schools Week

This is a historic day.  It is the first Word of God Sunday.  It was proclaimed by Pope Francis in September to honor the Bible and Holy Scriptures in our lives.  We have several days set aside to celebrate the Eucharist, but this is the first day dedicated to the word of God, the other “leg” on which we stand.

And what a blessing that it occurs simultaneously with Catholic Schools Week for in our schools we learn, celebrate and follow the word of God.  It is what sets us apart and fills our schools with nothing less than the character of Jesus Christ.  The word of God comes alive in Catholic schools.

The Word of God comes alive because we teach it.  I have felt sorry for many of our teachers because they are trained to teach so many things, but rarely come to us with a knowledge of religious education.  I have asked them if they would prefer if someone else would do it, but unfailingly they tell me they love their time teaching religion.  It changes and warms their relationships with students.  They can talk about the really real.   So often it gives them the chance to tell someone what they really need to hear.

I am so glad that private and public schools have embraced values as a part of their curriculum.  But they cannot say what those values should be or why they must be true.  We know what our values are, why they are and most importantly from whom they come – the word of Jesus Christ.

The Word of God also comes alive because it informs our mission.  Beyond what we teach, the Word of God is what we are called to live.  Once in a very great while, maybe every two or three months or so, a child gets in trouble at our school.  I ask what happened.  They will say someone said something to them so I did so and so.  And I will say, “Oh, do you think Jesus would have acted as you did?”  Then slowly they admit, “No, Father Bob.”  On the positive side, we give out tickets to people who are “caught” acting like Jesus.  I have only received two tickets in the last five year. I have to really improve my game.  What a blessing to have Jesus as our cherished standard.

Furthermore, the Word of God reflects our philosophy and mission.  When Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them,” (Mt 19:14) we take it very seriously.  We let the children come, poor and rich, Catholic, Protestant and non-Christian.  We welcome all because that is what Jesus did.  Every facet of a Catholic school should be imbued by the mission found in the word of God.

And finally, the Word of God comes alive in more than just we teach or follow.  It is a person, for “the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” (Jn 1:14) Jesus is the Word of God and the one we encounter in our lives, especially in our Catholic schools.  He is the foundation on which we are built and he is the gift we are proud to share.  If you walk into a Catholic School, you not only meet us, you meet Christ.

So thank you for making the word of God come alive.  Thanks to our parents who sacrifice so that their children might have this journey with great education and great faith.  Thanks to our faculties and staff, our heroes who say yes to everything and who choose to live what they love.  Thanks to our administrators who have the hardest jobs in education and among the hardest in the Church, but perform their tasks with warmth and passion.  And thanks to our students.  You have the most important role in all of this.  The Word, the sacrifice and the love is invested in you.  If you share the good word you have been given; if you live by love you have been shown and if people see Jesus Christ in you, then our Catholic Schools will have fulfilled the mission of God.