Homily of Bishop Martin Hayes – Examinations Mass,
St. Anne’s Church, Bailieborough – 19th May 2022.
Ist Reading – Jeremiah 29:11-14. Gospel – John 14:23-29
We are gathered to give thanks for you, your youth, your life, your energy, and your contribution to your school communities. We are gathered here and online to pray for you as you are face exams and as you make decisions about your future.
We pray in the spirit of our chosen first reading from Jeremiah. We place our trust in God our creator, who has a plan for each one of us with the words, “Yes, I know what plans I have in mind for you….plans for peace, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope”. You are our future, our hope for the future as indicated by presentation of candles in this Easter season of Light and Hope. We entrust you to the Good Lord.
No doubt, as you face exams in these weeks, you are apprehensive, anxious, feeling the pressure and you may be feeling overwhelmed.
We are with you, and most importantly, the Good Lord is with you. As we gather for Mass, we celebrate Jesus who came among us to share in our human condition. He faced challenges, felt pressure, encountered opposition, He went through the agony in the garden……Jesus experienced that feeling of being overwhelmed……….. that feeling of unease expressed in the Emily Dickinson poem familiar to Leaving Cert. students, namely, The Soul has Bandaged Moments. Dickinson captures that sense that ‘I am just about holding it together’. I am sure as you prepare for the exams you may feel, to quote Dickinson, ‘some ghastly Fright come up’ ……. ……with so much more to study and remember!!!! You may be at times feeling somewhat uneasy.
I would like to offer you the consolation that Jesus offers in our Gospel of today and of next Sunday where he says, “Peace I bequeath to you, my own peace I give to you, a peace the world cannot give, this is my gift to you”. Jesus is offering a wholesome enduring peace.
Every so often, hopefully, you experience ‘moments of escape’ to quote Emily Dickinson again i.e., some peace of mind with the supports received from family, teachers, chaplains, mentors, friends, fellow students, or just in finding quiet time alone.
As you know. I am not from these parts, so I am still discovering different parts of our Diocese of Kilmore, that is, I am still finding my feet around the diocese. Last Sunday, I was over at the western end of the diocese for Confirmation in Dromahair which borders on Lough Gill, the lake on which, the Lake Isle of Innisfree, is situated. I was finding my way and when I saw the sign for the Lake Isle of Innisfree, I came to appreciate the beauty of where I was. I found time, I pulled over and am reminded now of the line of William Butler Yeats poem familiar to Junior Cert. students, “And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,”.
It is a lovely part of the countryside on the Leitrim/Sligo border where I found some peace, which is just a glimpse of the peace offered by Jesus to each one of us when he says, “Peace I bequeath to you, my own peace I give to you, a peace the world cannot give, this is my gift to you”.
We pray for that peace for each one of you throughout your lives, and in the coming weeks as you complete your exam schedule. We pray that you make take the opportunities to experience the peace afforded by those who are supporting you and that you may take time to pray, to find peace in some quiet place, your ‘Lake Isle of Innisfree’ and appreciate that gift of wholesome peace offered by Jesus to each one of us.
Jesus is with us, and we celebrate that sense of belonging, of being together, and of supporting each other. We entrust ourselves, we entrust you to the Good Lord as in our first reading from Jeremiah we hear “When you call to me and come and pray to me, I will listen to you. When you search for me, you will find me; when you search wholeheartedly for me, I shall let you find me”. Peace be with you.