St Johns Opening Mass 2007

Our gathering for the Eucharist tonight stands under the judgement of the words of the Scripture we have read. Isaiah (cf. Isaiah 58:1-10) says "I will tell you what it really means to worship God." Does our worship measure up to his standard? Our worship needs to be a "living sacrifice" for others like Jesus. One that overflows into all the things Isaiah suggests.

Our Schools, too, are judged by the words of the Gospel we read. Jesus asks us, "Is there one among you who would hand their child a stone if they asked for bread? Or would hand them a snake when they asked for a fish?" To know what food young people need and to provide it is not always an easy task. But we must do it because many are offering them stones and snakes.

It has recently been suggested that the tomb of Jesus, Mary and Joseph has been discovered in Israel. Such claims are seized upon by some to ridicule the belief of Christianity in the resurrection of Christ. Science triumphs over superstition again! It seems that we in the West are determined to deny our past. Of course, that is not the only example of people ridiculing the Church. Occasionally you hear of parents of children at Catholic schools ridiculing the faith of Catholics to their children. Thankfully that is rare. There are plenty of reasons for which one might criticise the Church. But that kind of criticism betrays an intellectual laziness or unwillingness to think about the deeper questions of life. It is an easy way of avoiding really seeking truth because we might have to change. And of course we have all heard of parents who encourage in their children an extravagant and permissive lifestyle, abuse of alcohol and drugs. It seems crazy but true. This is far from the Gospel.

In our time, too, Christianity is rightly made a laughing stock of because of the claims of some fundamentalist groups within and without the Church. But all too easily some put the wisdom and faith of our fore-fathers and fore-mothers aside believing the flimsiest of claims people make.

We are not some kind of fundamentalist church which finds quick and easy answers to all life's problems by a quick flip through the Bible. We are a church who sits down together and listens to the Scriptures read. We let the Word speak to us in its own terms not on our own. We have been doing that on and off for 2000 years. In the process we have gathered an extraordinary wealth of wisdom and truth that we need to hear. That requires work and prayer on our part.

That work and prayer is part of what St John's College is about as a Catholic School for which it has a wonderful group of teachers, growing material resources, and a supportive parent group. I welcome you all here tonight especially the year 8s and their families. I pray you will find your time at St John's a rich and rewarding one.

The prophet Isaiah beautifully describes what true worship is. Our worship tonight stands or falls before the light of his words. Does he describe what is in our hearts tonight?

Fr Graham