It was a privilege to celebrate Mass today with a few of the Year 13 students of our Christchurch Catholic colleges as they come to the end of their school-years.
I’m not sure who had the initiative, but I was delighted to be invited to celebrate the Mass held a couple of hours after classes had finished for the day, so there was a high level of commitment in the young people who had made the effort to be present.
I was inspired by their enthusiasm and focus. As they gathered there was the lively energy of friends meeting, but about five minutes before the beginning of Mass I called them to stillness and silence asking them to remember the presence of God, and inviting them to recall their needs and the needs of those they loved and of the world.
Their response was immediate and whole-hearted and their silence was tangible.
I couldn’t help but use the chapel as a visual aid in my homily reflection and asked the group to look around the chapel, noticing in particular the windows.
Some of the windows are of plain glass, enabling those inside to see the grounds, trees, buildings and movement outside the chapel. The seasons of nature are especially visible outside the sanctuary. While the bright green of early summer is present now, in a few months the trees will darken and the leaves fall and die leaving bare winter branches that seem dead. But then spring comes with new life and abundant growth. This is the pattern of our earthly life.
Then I asked the young people to look to the stained glass windows. Some are panes of different colours and others have images of the evangelists, with the round window above the choir depicting a teenage Jesus with his mother.
These windows are especially beautiful when lit from from outside by the daylight. But at night without this external light these beautiful windows are not attractive at all, just odd shapes of black. But note the windows don’t change, its the presence of the light that changes them.
Without Christ we are liked those stained glass windows at night. It is our personal relationship with Jesus Christ that enables our unique colour, shape, image and significance to be visible to the world.
That’s the point I tried to make in the homily.
Let’s offer a prayer for these young people and many others as they prepare for exams over the next few weeks.