Our 2022 Notre Dame College theme is powerful in the way it expresses so many possibilities in so few words.
“Bridge builders not bystanders.”
The choice of this theme at this time serves as a reminder to all of us that we must remain active, particularly in our pursuit to build up the Kingdom of God. As a Catholic faith community, we are doers who are inspired by the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. We are guided by the Holy Spirit to act upon a conscience that seeks justice and truth. There will be moments where we need to call upon God’s grace to give us the courage to stand up and call out injustice or mistreatment. We will not stand back and accept injury to any part of God’s creation, and like the Good Samaritan, we will honour the dignity of every person, regardless of circumstance.
The theme is fascinating in the way that it accesses language. If we were to take the theme literally, we would join Solomon and start placing brick upon brick. This, however, is not the expectation. As we each search for meaning in the text, we might find that our bridges are built with materials such as compassion, love, innovation, respect, courage, forgiveness or hope. Interestingly, it was Solomon’s diplomacy and wisdom that meant he was able to work peacefully with his neighbours, in turn allowing him to gather the resources he needed to build the Temple that would honour God.
As the Holy Father, Pope Francis states in his 2019 Apostolic Exhortation to young people Christus Vivit, one of the most valuable bridges that we can build is between our generations. In our College, Parish and family life, let us respect the knowledge, passion and dreams of those who have come before us and after us. Let us work together to build something wonderful. This is also a key focus of the Mercy and Marist charisms, as they continue to offer hope, love and faith to the next generation.
Let us consider the following as we start building-
The world has never benefitted, nor will it ever benefit, from a rupture between generations. That is the siren song of a future without roots and origins. It is the lie that would have you believe that only what is new is good and beautiful. When intergenerational relationships exist, a collective memory is present in communities, as each generation takes up the teachings of its predecessors and in turn bequeaths a legacy to its successors. In this way, they provide frames of reference for firmly establishing a new society. As the old saying goes: “If the young had knowledge and the old strength, there would be nothing they could not accomplish”.
The bridges that we build in 2022 will help us span the chasms that open before us. We know there will be challenges, but through the example and intercession of Venerable Catherine McAuley, Saint Marcellin Champagnat, and Mary the mother of God we will overcome, and together, find a way through. Importantly, the bridges that we build this year should be strong and stable. They will last well beyond 2022 and offer a path for future travellers to take.
1 Kings 5: 7-13
When Hiram heard the words of Solomon, he rejoiced greatly, and said, “Blessed be the Lord today, who has given to David a wise son to be over this great people.” Hiram sent word to Solomon, “I have heard the message that you have sent to me; I will fulfill all your needs in the matter of cedar and cypress timber. My servants shall bring it down to the sea from the Lebanon; I will make it into rafts to go by sea to the place you indicate. I will have them broken up there for you to take away. And you shall meet my needs by providing food for my household.” So Hiram supplied Solomon’s every need for timber of cedar and cypress. Solomon in turn gave Hiram twenty thousand cors of wheat as food for his household, and twenty cors of fine oil. Solomon gave this to Hiram year by year. So the Lord gave Solomon wisdom, as he promised him. There was peace between Hiram and Solomon; and the two of them made a treaty.
Luke 10: 25-38
The Parable of the Good Samaritan
Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.”
But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’ Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”