We get to work with some incredible young men here at Marcellin. This year I am blest to work with Student Leaders who not only take their responsibilities as faith leaders seriously, but who chose to prepare a Reflection that was shared as part of our Lenten Liturgy. I thank Liturgy Captain Simeon Sotiropoulos, College Captain Caleb Ostwald and College Vice Captains Luca Carfi and Jonathan Potenza for their courage, faith and commitment to our community, and I encourage you all to read their reflection on our theme, Called to Holiness:
Today’s Scripture Reading speaks of looking after others as Jesus did. Sometimes it’s hard to translate the language of the Church into our own lives. But that doesn’t mean that the messages of our faith tradition don’t have much to teach us.
As you already know, our theme this year is `Called to Holiness’. But what does it mean, to enact this idea of being holy? Well I can tell you this: it doesn’t mean that you have to go to Church every Sunday, or always pray before you sleep, or even make the Sign of the Cross before a meal. It means you should be a better man, the bigger person who isn’t afraid of trying, the individual who strives to be the best version of themselves. Whether that be through standing up for someone in the yard, or even just telling your mum you love her before you leave for school. It can be small things or big things that we say or do that can be the difference between being defined as someone who is holy or someone who isn’t.
Right now let’s focus on the small things, the actions that only take two or three seconds of our day to do. Like saying ‘good job’ to a fellow student after they presented or picking up a fallen pen for a mate. These things may seem simple, but they but have the power to change a negative situation to a positive one, which can be enough to form new friendships and make someone’s day.
Often when we hear the word ‘Holiness’, we instantly feel as though it is something that is unattainable for us. We link ‘holiness’ to some of our most influential religious figures; Jesus, Mary, Saint Marcellin and even Pope Francis. We ask ourselves, how can we possibly mirror these people of such significance? In reality, being Called to Holiness is, as Simon said, purely asking us to be good people who are genuinely interested in helping the lives of others around us. To be the best version of ourselves each day and be the face of Christ to others. A face of love, compassion and kindness.
At Student Leadership Day, I along with many students and staff had the privilege to listen to Shannon. Shannon is a young man who is a major contributor to the Exodus Community Bread Run, an initiative that some of you may be already aware of. Shannon has had an incredibly tough childhood. He was born with disabilities and was bullied as a result of his disabilities. When asked if anybody reached out to support him, he answered ‘No’.
Today, Shannon’s contribution to the ‘Bread Run’ and many other social justice initiatives is a reflection of his burning desire to assist those facing injustices within our community. Shannon’s daily routine often involves a 6:00am start and an 11:00pm finish, all of which is in the service of others in need. Shannon is an inspiration, a true man of service, who answers the call to holiness each day through his actions. He’s not a saint, he’s just a guy who daily makes a choice.
When asked what he would say to people who feel as though they don’t have the time to serve the community, he answered, ‘Find time”. In echoing the words of Shannon, I call each of you to find the time in your busy daily lives to answer this call to holiness. To be of service to others. This could involve participating and supporting your house charities or even the simplest acts of offering assistance to those in your pastoral, class or out in the yard.
At Mass a few weeks ago, Monsignor Cavarra said that sometimes it is not necessarily what you can get out of life, but rather what you can give. It is my hope that we can all be good people, who are willing to reach out to those in need and answer our Call to Holiness.
I define the term holy as caring for the people around you, helping them through trials and times of doubt and encouraging them to do the same towards others. As individuals we are born with the ability to emanate holiness through various ways.
To me, being called to holiness is being beside your mates when they need you most; helping them stay optimistic and see the positives, as these actions and words are the direct correspondence between the type of person I am and want to be, and the morally right person God wants us all to be. It’s about trying to better yourself through small acts of kindness, such as saying hi to students and staff in the corridor and making that effort to ask people how they’re doing or if they’re okay. The idea of being holy isn’t a vast or complex thing that we should brush away because we don’t fully understand it - instead we should familiarise ourselves with the term “holiness” in hopes of bettering ourselves and those around us.
Each of us, when we wake up every day, is offered an amazing gift. The ability to make the choice to consciously be our best selves, to help others to be their best selves – that is, to be holy.
Often I wake up and remember this, and making the choice is easy.
However, some mornings I don’t. Some mornings, in the fog of my mind I forget to make the choice.
In our lives, there are countless other day-to-day things that we forget to do and making the choice to remember to bring holiness into our days can very easily join this list. While each of us has a Marist heart full of love and potential, and we mostly will almost always go along with or do the right thing by the people around us, we are made imperfect and will always make mistakes.
But what defines us is not forgetting now
and then to look at the world through the lens of thinking about what we can do
for others; it’s whether we choose the next day to remember to make holy acts
like supporting others a part of our day.
Perhaps you could start your journey towards choosing holiness by:
· Respecting yourself, by honouring your values and your word.
· Respecting your teachers, despite egos and armour.
· Respecting your environment and
· Respecting your amazing opportunity to grow into a young man of Marcellin while you’re here - make the absolute most of it.
Hopefully the theme of respect for yourself and others is becoming second nature to all of us by now, and we can continue to be brave, vulnerable and holy in our lives every day.
I ask you now to accept the invitation to reflect; to give thanks for the people who have helped you this term and to think of how you can answer the call to holiness; to show God’s face in our world by supporting others – not just in Lent, but always.