What makes this school different? What makes it unique? I want to read you a one-page reflection by a modern saint, JoseMaria Escrivà in his book, Christ is Passing By (#129).
Let me tell you about an event of my own personal life which happened many years ago. One day I was with a friend of mine, a man with a good heart but who did not have faith. Pointing toward a globe he said, "Look, from North to South, from East to West." "What do you want me to look at?" I asked. His answer was: "The failure of Christ. For twenty centuries people have been trying to bring his doctrine to men's lives, and look at the result." I was filled with sadness. It is painful to think that many people still don't know our Lord, and that among those who do know him, many live as though they did not. But that feeling lasted only a moment. It was shortly overcome by love and thankfulness, because Jesus has wanted every man to cooperate freely in the work of redemption. He has not failed. His doctrine and life are effective in the world at all times. The redemption carried out by him is sufficient, and more than sufficient.
God does not want slaves, but children. He respects our freedom. The work of salvation is still going on, and each one of us has a part in it. It is Christ's will, St Paul tells us in impressive words, that we should fulfil in our flesh, in our life, what is lacking in his passion, "for the good of his body, which is the Church."
It is worthwhile putting our lives on the line, giving ourselves completely, so as to answer to the love and the confidence that God has placed in us. It is worth while, above all, to decide to take our christian life seriously. When we recite the creed, we state that we believe in God the Father Almighty, in his Son Jesus Christ, who died and rose again, and in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of life. We affirm that the Church, one, holy, catholic and apostolic, is the body of Christ, enlivened by the Holy Spirit. We rejoice in the forgiveness of sins and in the hope of the resurrection. But do those words penetrate to the depths of our own heart? Or do they remain only on our lips? The divine message of victory, the joy and the peace of Pentecost, should be the unshakeable foundation for every Christian's way of thinking and acting and living.
Today Saint Paul describes the Church, the living Christian community, you and me, as a field. It's not easy growing a crop in a field, especially when all you have is an ox, a plow and a few other simple tools. Much is involved, and the difficult work relies on various talents and skills.
St. Paul is reminding the Corinthians, who are all jealously competing with each other, that no one is better than anyone else. All are equal, because all work is done in the service of the one great work: living and sharing the Gospel of Redemption in Christ.
There is no work more important than this: not Calculus, not History, not Literature or Art, nothing is more valuable to our life than the work of God. However, nothing that we do on earth needs to be separate from this work: not sports, not music, not Biology, nothing needs to be an obstacle from the work of God. As Paul reminds us, we all have work to do in God's field, only different works. Our daily life is exactly what St. Josemaria Ecrivà was focusing on, and we have his favorite and perfect example as the patron of our school.
Saint Joseph helps us see that any work can be God's work.
Escriva says that “St Joseph was an ordinary sort of man on whom God relied to do great things. He did exactly what the Lord wanted him to do, in each and every event that went to make up his life. The name Joseph, in Hebrew, means "God will add." God adds unsuspected dimensions to the holy lives of those who do his will. He adds the one important dimension which gives meaning to everything, the divine dimension”
Doing this, however, requires our cooperation, and this is in fact very simple: we keep our mind's eye and our heart oriented toward heaven, toward God. If we invite God through our soul to be part of our work, we have made that work holy, we have added that divine dimension, and God will add the rest.
Let us pray that here at St. Joseph High School, through the helpful prayers of our patron Joseph, we will never do anything without that divine dimension. Rather, as all of us do our various work here as students, teachers, administration, volunteers, etc., we will all do our best to keep our eyes on the prize, on the mission of this school: to be, as Bishop Rhoades mentioned at our recent dedication, a city on a hill and a light to the nations.