Friday, February 02, 2024

Why have a Catholic school? (Catholic Schools Week homily)

 This week we celebrate Catholic Schools Week. 

Since we are a Catholic school, naturally that’s a big deal!

Someone might ask us, why have a Catholic school? 

Why not just have public schools?

The main reason is that we as Catholics 

understand the role of a school in a special way. 

The difference may seem slight to many, 

but it makes all the difference.

We believe that education isn’t just about lots of individual things,

It’s about the whole picture.

Who knows what a jigsaw puzzle is?

You know: it has lots of pieces, sometimes hundreds of pieces.

Some pieces by themselves might be kind of interesting; 

but most are just blobs – you can’t figure out what they are.

But you know what you get when all the pieces are together:

A face, or a building, or an airplane.

In other words, it’s when you get the pieces in place that you see it.

But notice, it’s not only at the end.

No, usually when you get about 2/3rds to 3/4ths of the pieces in place, 

you say, “aha! I know what this is!” 

And you hurry to finish it.

That is how Catholic education works.

We don’t only study the pieces; we bring them together.

So with our school. You study mathematics, reading, art; 

you spend time in the classroom, 

or you go out in nature, or you learn how to play at sports.

Or, you take time to send notes to people in nursing homes.

And you take time to pray and to worship God.

It’s all part of one picture, piece-by-piece.

We have a Catholic school because we want the whole picture, 

which includes the Father who created us, 

the Son, Jesus, who came to die for us, 

and the Holy Spirit who brings us all together.

The God who gives himself to us in the Bible and in the Sacraments, 

shows himself to us in history and chemistry.

Some people say God only belongs in church, not in the classroom. 

But in our school, everything belongs to God.

All of it is God’s gift to us.

One of the glories of education is the realization 

that you and I have not yet fully discovered 

how wondrous God’s Creation truly is! We never finish.

It’s hard to believe that not that long ago,

We didn’t have cell phones, or any telephones!

We didn’t have the Internet or airplanes, or automobiles!

It was only when I was a second-grader 

that human beings first dipped their toe into outer space, 

landing on the moon.

Perhaps when our second-graders are my age, 

Human beings will travel to another star?

The greatest thing God ever created, however, is not out there.

It’s here. It’s you. It’s me!

The human being, each of us, is God’s masterwork.

We know this, because he said so: we’re made in his image,

And we are the ones Jesus died for.

You and I don’t know how high our human abilities can soar.

Unlocking these gifts is what our school exists to do,

but just as much, to put it all together, so we see the face of God.

In the first reading, David’s mistake isn’t obvious.

The reason he ordered all the people to be counted 

was to use that as a measure of how strong his Kingdom was.

But here’s what he forgot: numbers are useful, to a point.

The real strength of his Kingdom was God, and he forgot that.

I want to challenge you, girls and boys.

And: I want you to challenge me!

Not just me, but [our principal], and all our parents and teachers.

Here’s the challenge: how high can we soar?

How deep can we dive, to discover the mystery of God and Creation?

I wish I could go to Mars! Maybe you will.

I wish I could paint like DaVinci or play like Lady Gaga.

Maybe you will.

Maybe you’re the next Einstein or Venus Williams, 

or Pope John Paul II?

No comments: