The Santa Sophia Academy and the Santa Sophia parish community celebrate Catholic Schools Week, January 26 – February 1, 2020. The theme for the National Catholic Schools Week 2020 is “Catholic Schools: Learn. Serve. Lead. Succeed.” The theme focuses on the core of Catholic education. This is to say our schools not only focus on education/academic excellence but have greater responsibilities, towards their community, society and nation.
This is a week-long celebration, which gives us opportunities to honor the mission of Catholic education, especially here at Santa Sophia Academy, given its significance to our children and to our parish community. Catholic schools play an important role in the Church, and knowing this, Pope Francis reminded Catholic educators at the World Congress held in Rome in November 2016 to know the spiritual and corporal works of mercy and offer them to students in Catholic schools as practical examples of how to live the Gospel. He said, “By teaching the Good News of the Gospel, Catholic educators guide our students to Jesus Christ and His healing mercy.”
Catholic Schools Week is also a good opportunity for us at Santa Sophia to understand our roles in educating our children and to support and appreciate our teachers and staff for their commendable job in helping our children to grow spiritually and intellectually. What do we do during Catholic Schools Week? We can do many things. I invite you to make an effort to say “thank you” to our Academy staff when you see them around. Or, stop by the Academy and visit the classrooms to see the wonderful paintings and artwork of our children. I know a private education can be expensive, but from my experience studying in Catholic schools all my life, I can tell you that a Catholic education is well worth the expense.
The readings today remind us that Christ has brought us from the darkness of sin into the Light, the Light of Christ. The first reading contains the prophetic reference to Christ as the Light that dispels darkness. Matthew wanted his readers to recognize that the Light Isaiah had spoken of had finally appeared with the coming of Jesus. In his prophetic mind, Isaiah sees this as if it has already happened: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great Light.” The Light which he references is the Light of Christ that scatters the darkness of ignorance and sin.
The second reading advises the Corinthians to live as children of the Light, avoiding divisions and rivalries.Because several factions had arisen among the Corinthian Christians, each claiming allegiance to its first Christian teacher or to a particular Apostle, Paul wanted the Christians to rise above these immature rivalries and to follow the humility and obedience of Jesus Who had emptied Himself for them all. Paul argued that people who live in the Light must avoid divisions and rivalries. Christ cannot be divided, nor can His message, so He calls us to live in peace.
In today’s Gospel passage, Matthew explains that what had been prophesied by Isaiah was fulfilled through the preaching and healing ministry of Jesus. By His ministry of inviting people to the kingdom of God by repentance, Jesus brought light to people living in darkness, thus fulfilling God’s promise in the Old Testament. The second part of the Gospel describes the call of the first disciples, and Jesus’ own teaching and healing ministry, inviting people to repent of their sins and accept the Good News of God’s rule, which He was preaching. The disciples were ordinary people with no formal education or social status and were chosen to preach the Good News. Mother Theresa said: “When God calls, He does not see your ability, but availability, not your achievement, but commitment.” This is to say that God calls ordinary people and makes them extraordinary. We are all called to know and bear witness to the truth, and to become effective witnesses to the Gospel. Catholic Schools Week reminds us of our call and responsibility.
We are all called by God, both individually and collectively. The call is both a privilege and responsibility. The mission of preaching, teaching and healing which Jesus began in Galilee is now the responsibility of the Church and of each individual. Our response to the call begins with our Baptism, and that response is strengthened by the Eucharist and other Sacraments. As we celebrate Catholic Schools Week, let us thank God for our faith and our Academy and its service to our faith community. Knowing our responsibility, let us assist our children to grow in faith and to understand and appreciate God’s mercy.