August 9, 2018
Weekly letter to the Bishop Chatard parent community:
Last Friday we offered a retreat to the 120+ staff members at Bishop Chatard. The retreat focused on our school theme for the year, Let the peace of Christ control your hearts (Colossians 3:15)
I offered the homily below, based on specially chosen readings for the retreat:
Put on…heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another…And over all these put on love…And let the peace of Christ control your hearts (Colossians 3:12-17)
Jesus said to his apostles, “I have told you this while I am with you. The Advocate, the holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name—he will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. (John 14:25-31)
In today’s gospel, Jesus is “prepping the troops” at the Last Supper. He was preparing the apostles for what was ahead (paraphrased): I won’t be with you much longer. You will going into battle without me. However, you will not be alone. I will be sending you the gift of the Holy Spirit to walk with you. AND I am arming you with peace – this will give you strength and courage.
Jesus provides the comrade in arms, the Holy Spirit, and the weapon, the peace of Christ.
In the letter to the Colossians, Paul provides the armor. Notice he uses the words – “put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience…Put on love.”
These virtuous qualities do not just happens to us. We choose them. We put them on. They serve as our armor. We put on our armor to go into battle for another day. It is a deliberate action on our part.
And so we are fully equipped: We put on our armor, arm ourselves with the peace of Christ, and go into battle with the Holy Spirit at our side.
So what does this have to our role at Bishop Chatard?
When I started teaching in 1983, I would never have used the analogy of going into battle. It was simpler time.
That was then; this now. The world we live in now is a battlefield – the enemies and demons and evil these kids face are real. They come to us carrying all kinds of baggage. They want to know they are loved and valued and not alone. They NEED us.
We have two obligations: We need to put on the armor, carry the peace of Christ in our hearts, and accept the help of the Holy Spirit as we go into battle. We also need to prepare the kids for the battle, and teach them the importance of “putting on love.”
We need to bring to them, share with them, and instill in them the peace of Christ. They need to know that when they are at Bishop Chatard, “all is right with the world.”