A MESSAGE FROM THE PRINCIPAL

4th Week of the Lenten Season

“He guides me in right paths for His Name’s sake.”

The Fourth Sunday of Easter (26 March) is popularly called “Good Shepherd Sunday”. Every year on that Sunday, the Gospel passage is taken from the tenth chapter of St. John’s Gospel account, where Jesus describes Himself at length as “the good shepherd” and even as “the gate for the sheep”.

We will hear about two types of blindness in this Sunday’s Gospel passage. But the second is far worse than the first. The first is more apparent because it is a physical blindness, which naturally is hard to hide. So the man blind from birth leads the narrative.

This man, born blind, is the object of the disciples’ accusations. They don’t ask if the man’s blindness was caused by sin. They presume this, asking instead whose sins caused his blindness. Jesus has to clarify the matter by explaining that “neither he nor his parents sinned”. Rather, “it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him” that the man was born blind. These “works of God” are the works of the Good Shepherd.

After He works the miracle of giving sight to the man born blind, Jesus faces accusations from those who cannot see Him as the Good Shepherd. The Pharisees say of Jesus: “This man is not from God, because he does not keep the Sabbath.” Others command the man given sight: “Give God the praise! We know that this man {Jesus} is a sinner.”

But as Jesus’ enemies scorn Him, the man given sight speaks more boldly. At first he only reports the facts of what Jesus had done for him. A little later he says of Jesus that “He is a prophet.” Soon after, he speaks out against the religious authorities, insisting that “[t]his is what is so amazing, that you do not know where he is from, yet he opened my eyes. … It is unheard of that anyone ever opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, he would not be able to do anything.” The man given sight sees Jesus truly.

Yet moments later, he acts truly. When Jesus seeks out this man to whom He had given sight, the healed man confesses that he sees Jesus as Lord, and worships Him.

This scene of the man with sight worshipping Jesus makes a beautiful end to this Sunday’s Gospel passage. It would be instructive for us who fail in seeing Jesus as our Good Shepherd, and who fail in paying Jesus due homage. But especially during Lent, we need to set our sights on yet another aspect of this narrative.

The Pharisees bear a double blindness. Not only are they spiritually blind, but they are also blind to the fact of their blindness. At least the man born blind knew he was blind! Yet the Pharisees, blind to their blindness, attempt to lead others spiritually in their zeal for the Jewish Law. In Matthew’s Gospel account, Jesus directly calls the Pharisees “blind guides”, and notes that “if a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit.”

The Pharisees’ double blindness is spiritually a “dark valley”. They walk through it without a capable guide. Their blindness prevents them from seeing Jesus as Lord and Shepherd: as one who “looks into the heart”.

But as you and I reflect on these blind guides, we each need to ask two questions.

  • First, am I blind like the Pharisees?
  • Second, what hope is there for someone suffering from such a double blindness? The answer to the second can help us honestly answer the first.

The spiritually blind person has no reason for hope in himself. Hope for the spiritually blind rests in God alone. Their hope—our hope—rests in the truth that our Lord is a Good Shepherd. But will we turn toward His light, or avert our gaze from Him?

 

Bethany Day 2017

At the end of Catholic Schools’ Week, during the inclement weather, we came together to celebrate our College’s 24th Birthday. Father Brendan Quirk celebrated the Eucharist with us and really challenged us to move forward as a College and build upon the great works of the two congregations that founded our previous campuses, Sisters of Charity and Sisters of St Joseph. Here is my address to the students on that day:

“The community that founded this College so many years ago, chose the name Bethany College for a good reason. Why? What is the significance of the olive tree in our crest?

A mere half hour walk east from the wall of Jerusalem, across the Kidron valley, past Gethsemane and over the ridge of Olivet, brings you to the humble town of Bethany. This obscure village nestled on the side of the Mount of Olives would have been long forgotten, if not for the fact that it became the nightly resting-place of Jesus Christ. Bethany will forever be honoured and remembered through the coming ages, because one of its humble homes provided shelter and hospitality to Him who had no place to lay His head.

Bethany is found on the Mount of Olives, with olives representing the highest desire for good of all, what charity and love can bring to all of us. That is why kings and queens are anointed; to remind them about their commitment to rule and make decisions for all. So we could guess from the symbolism of the olive that that Bethany represents a state of spiritual goodness.

Jesus was repeatedly honoured in Bethany, whether it was at the home of Martha, Mary and Lazarus or in the house of Simon the leper. Therefore, Bethany naturally became the preferred dwelling place of our Lord and Saviour! Bethany plays a small but significant role in the life of the Lord, first as the home of Lazarus, Martha and Mary and the scene of his greatest miracle (raising Lazarus from the dead), and later as His home base during His final days in Jerusalem.

In the scheme of things, Bethany College will play a small but significant part of your lives. A place to learn, build friendships, have fun, make mistakes, learn from mistakes and grow into womanhood.

It seems pretty clear that Jesus felt relaxed and at home at Bethany. The Book of John says that He loved Lazarus, Martha and Mary, and the scene in which he raises Lazarus from the dead is one of His most open displays of emotion. Martha and Mary both appeared to know Him well, and in the Book of John He ate dinner with them the night before his triumphal entry to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. Matthew and Mark describe a dinner that final week at the Bethany home of Simon the Leper. The overall impression is that it was something of a safe haven.

So it seems perhaps that Bethany represents a state of spiritual goodness – goodness centred on loving our neighbour – which is open to and accepting of the Lord, not so much from religion but from the heart. What can we take from what I have said today about this ancient holy place and our modern school?

Our school is our sacred place. A familiar place. A safe place. A place to grow, as strong as an olive tree, through anything life can throw at you.

As we move off to enjoy the rest of our day, remember it isn’t the buildings or teachers that make a school great. It’s each one of you and how you interact. It is the shared, core values that make us who we are. So:

  • Make sure your relationships are positive ones and bring out only the best in one another.
  • Believe in yourself and practices that respect each person’s wholeness. Taking the good with the bad.
  • Be agents of justice. Don’t sit back and watch injustice go on all around you.
  • Help one another. Be women of
  • Make our school a safe and supportive one. We practice acceptance and protect each other; and finally,
  • We always make people feel welcome, doing our best to be inclusive and trying hard to understand each person here.”

 

Our mantra:

“Girls can do anything.
Bethany girls can do everything!*
(*except divide by zero)”
 
 
Vicki Lavorato
Principal