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Bishop's Homily for 2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time

...helping students recognize the voice & presence of God...

By Bishop Larry Silva
January 15, 2018

[Fiftieth Anniversary of Our Lady of Perpetual Help School, Ewa Beach (at Honolulu Country Club)]

We thank God for teachers!  And we thank God for students!

Our readings today are filled with both students and teachers.  In the Scriptures, of course, it is obvious that the students are learning to listen to and to share the Word of God.  It may not always be so obvious, but that is exactly what happens in our Catholic schools, and in this beloved School of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, whose fiftieth anniversary we celebrate today.

We first see the young prophet Samuel who hears God speaking to him, but it takes him four tries and a patient teacher before he finally realizes that this was no mere human voice that woke him from his sleep, but a divine voice calling him to be alert and attentive because he had a mission to accomplish.  Even the teacher, Eli, did not at first understand what was happening, and of course even those of us who are teachers need to be reminded from time to time that we are serving as instruments to attune the ears and hearts of others to the voice of God, so that they will know their own missions in life and be equipped to fulfill them.

John the Baptist had his own disciples, the students who listened and learned from this messenger of God.  But he did not cling to these students as if he alone could teach them all they needed to know.  When the One who was greater than he appeared, he was happy to “graduate” them and send them on their way to a higher education, to be disciples of the One who was not only his Master and Teacher, but the Master and Teacher of the whole world.  And these students had such a gratitude for what they learned that they could not help but go out and share what they knew with others, such as Andrew sharing the knowledge with his brother Simon, who would be known as Peter.

When these students or disciples encountered the Word himself, by whom all things were made, their thirst for knowledge of him grew.  They wanted to know where he stayed, so that they could spend as much time with him as possible, not only enlightening their minds with his knowledge, but filling their hearts with his love.

And isn’t this exactly what Our Lady of Perpetual Help School has been doing so beautifully for fifty years?:  helping students recognize the voice and the presence of God by teaching them to listen to him in prayer; helping them to respond to God’s calling to each of them by offering themselves as his servants; encouraging them to not settle for the merely good, but to seek the best of Teachers by coming to know Jesus; and seeking Jesus out wherever he stays, so that their minds may be filled with his knowledge and their hearts flooded with his love.  And once they become good disciples, this wonderful school challenges them to become teachers themselves, going out to share the Good News of God’s love with all they meet, and making that love concrete in every aspect of their lives.

These wonderful stories of hearing God’s voice and becoming the disciples of the Word of God, Jesus Christ, is as ancient as Adam and as new as the students and teachers who today are engaged in this wonderful work.  Today and always, Our Lady of Perpetual Help School encourages its students, faculty, and families to never be satisfied with “good enough” but to go to the One who is our ultimate destiny.  The school encourages them to see where Jesus stays as he is found among the poor, the hungry, the sick, and the imprisoned.  The school challenges them to see where Jesus stays by helping them understand the beauty of the created universe and of this world which he chose to inhabit and to care for this wonderful place.  The school rejoices in its mission of helping us all see where Jesus stays as he takes the conflicts and sins of the world and transforms them by his cross and resurrection into his kingdom of peace.  The school centers its community on this celebration, where Jesus stays as our nourishment to help us all be better students and better teachers.

We thank God for teachers!  We thank God for students!  We thank God for this school!  And above all, we thank God for sending us the best of all teachers, Jesus Christ our Lord!