Solemnity of the Assumption/Welcome School Mass
Rv 11:19a; 12:1-6a,10ab Ps 45 1Cor 15:20-27 Lk 1:39-56
Deacon Jim McFadden; St. Francis High School
How appropriate that our Welcome School Mass occurs on the wonderful celebration of the Assumption, which honors the Blessed Virgin Mary’s role in salvation history. In Mary’s Assumption into heaven, body and soul, we contemplate what we ourselves are meant to attain: namely, if we follow Christ the Lord, at the end of our earthly journey, we will participate fully in God’s love for eternity. Think about it: The love and life we participate here and now, will endure forever!
What happens to Mary is meant to happen to us: we are destined to be at-one with God in the fullness of our humanity: body and soul just like Jesus and Mary. How did Blessed Mary realize her destiny? –her life, like every Christian, is a journey of following Someone who calls us by name and who loves us unconditionally; it’s a journey that has a very precise destination: we come from God and we’re meant to return to God! We are meant to join the Communion of Saints in heaven as we become transformed into the wonder of God. And, this future is already mapped out: Jesus is the Way home and he has overcome the obstacles of sin and death through his Death and Resurrection, which means full communion with God is a reality—we just have to claim it for ourselves.
Can you imagine the welcome Blessed Mary must have received when she was assumed into Heaven? All the Choirs of Angels, all the Communion of Saints, and, most importantly, her beloved Son and His Father and Holy Spirit greeted Mary with joy because it was through her that God burst into the world by becoming Man. And, that is what the Welcome Back Mass is about: we are welcoming each other back to the unique St. Francis community; moreover, we are welcoming our incoming Freshmen so that they may join us in this communal journey.
And, what is our journey about, Troubies?—it’s the same as Mary’s journey: the reason this school exists is that it is a community where disciples are being called and saints are being formed. Again, our Christian life is a journey of following Jesus Christ and we do it together.
Frosh, class of 2017, you are about to embark on a journey of formation in which you will have the opportunity to come to know Jesus as a friend. As St. Ireneaus once said, the “glory of God is a human being fully alive.” The way to become fully human is to follow Jesus, to become his disciple, and to love him and his Father and the Holy Spirit with your whole heart and soul. If you say “yes” to this formation process, you’ll become truly happy and joyful.
What will your formation look like? It has four components: a spiritual life, an academic life, a life of service, and a life of community.
The foundation of our life at St. Francis is FAITH. It starts with your personal prayer life in which you go into the Quiet and converse with God daily. Jesus loves you and he wants to get to know you. For that to happen you have to show up. Your personal prayer will be complemented with the liturgical life of our school, retreats, and theology classes.
In your educational life— which includes academics, Fine Arts, and sports—you will be challenged to pursue EXCELLENCE with focus, determination, and zeal. You will be mentored by incredibly talented teachers, coaches, administrators, and staff—all of whom are professionally orientated to serve you. You are blessed with gifts and talents and if you use them to the best of your ability, you will bear fruit wonderful to behold. We’re not talking about GPA, section titles, or getting into your dream college: we are challenging you to make holy your life as a Troubie to give glory to God. That’s a life worth living! That’s why we want you to excel.
By virtue of your baptism, you have been initiated into the Body of Christ, which means you live as Jesus lives. How does he live? He serves others; he gives his life away. You’re called to do the same. Christian Service is not volunteerism. If you know who you truly are—namely, someone made in the image of God who is God’s beloved daughter—you will serve others as an occasion to encounter Christ Jesus in the poor and marginalized. If you love and serve the poor, you’ll realize your destiny which Jesus teaches us in Matthew 25.
Finally, your formation occurs within the context of a Christ-centered faith community. At St. Francis High School, you will cultivate friendships and sisterhood that will endure. Your Troubie companions are your sisters in faith; treat them with love and respect. While you can’t be friends with everyone, you can be a sister to everyone. Be a sister of love, compassion, and justice who stands for something: like our Blessed Mother, your life is a journey of following Jesus Christ!