Archbishop Peter A Comensoli recently celebrated the 2022 Archdiocesan Principalship Mass at St Patrick's Cathedral. Below is his homily from the Mass.
For someone who has spent several years of his adult life immersed in academic philosophy, the opening words of St Paul to his beloved Church in Corinth (1 Corinthians 1:18-25) can come across quite starkly. Where are the philosophers now, he declares? Where are those steeped in wisdom and learning? Why do they pursue what is logical, he questions, but foolishly miss what is true?
For Paul, proclaiming a crucified Christ trumped all human attempts to explain the world or give meaning to our lives. What for some has always been an obstacle and to others madness, is – by faith – the great sign of God’s strength and wisdom. A god who would accept death as the path to life is illogical, by our mere thinking. But through Christ, the cross becomes a symbol of hope and consolation; it is the symbol – the very meaning – of God. On the cross, the Divine Love of God reached into the very depths of our human reality and transfigured it. God, in Christ on the cross, made us new.
That is quite the message, isn’t it? Hard to grasp, yet full of light. Jesus did not opt for crucifixion, as if he had a point to make or wished to demonstrate his power. He accepted the cross in all his own human weakness (Father, please take this cup away from me!); he did this so as to bring to our human weakness the life of God. This is the Good News made real, which Jesus spoke of as the nearness of God’s kingdom.
For our children and young people, and for their families, this is how Catholic schools are to be. They are not educational institutions designed to merely bring out the best in human wisdom; they are communities where learners may venture towards a much more luminous place – to the light of Christ. We might say that our schools exist to form the lives of our children and young people, according to the light of the crucified Christ, so as to live lives of virtue in faith, hope and love.
A foolish message to be preaching, perhaps, in an era where the kingdom of self-creation reigns; but it is the one that will place our children and young people on a sure path to the fulness of their lives. The language of the cross, and the logic of a crucified Christ, proclaims to those on the way to salvation a truth that cannot be dismissed or ridiculed by closed minds and hearts, for it is a language that offers to us new life.
Melbourne Catholic15 March 2023
Melbourne Catholic14 March 2023