Director of Faith & Religious Studies

As I write this article, the first day of the school year has just come to a close. Today is one of those days which we could easily say was a “milestone” occasion. Our first school day in the 90th Anniversary year, our new Year 7s joining us looking resplendent in the new college uniform and new school buses all add to the excitement. We have to be careful not to overlook the significance of such things. They all form part of the narrative that is Salesian College Sunbury in 2017.  Undoubtedly, we will continue to add to that narrative as the year progresses.

Last weekend’s Gospel reading from Matthew (5:1-12) is a narrative that continues to still have as much prominence in our story telling today as indeed it did in the first century CE.  Commonly referred to as “The Beatitudes”, Matthew links together many of the sayings of Jesus and has Jesus deliver them on a mountain. We may recall an earlier narrative in the Bible where God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses on a mountain (Exodus 20: 1-17), effectively the laws he wanted his people to live by on a daily basis. In Matthew we find Jesus delivering new laws to God’s people in their contemporary context. Jesus sits with the disciples and the gathered crowd taking a position of authority like a teacher of his time, and begins to preach a new law that primarily is about attitudes and virtues. Jesus begins each of the Beatitudes with the word blessed, which expresses a position of spiritual joy and peace for the person who practices it. The second part of the Beatitude speaks of some gift in which those who practice the beatitude are already sharing.

The attitude that Jesus was passionately expressing is not so far removed from the narrative of our Christian story today. The attitude we should have is one that searches for the spiritual, is merciful, humble, clean of heart, peacemaking, and has a concern for others. There is context and relevancy in that narrative today more than ever.

Our Year 9 students will examine the Beatitudes later this year in one of their Religious Education units. Here we also hope that they will develop an attitude as well that what Jesus spoke about in his time and context is a message not to be lost on us today. We can in our own context recontextualise the Beatitudes to see the true meaning of virtues that can be lived on a daily basis and profoundly centre us in our faith and draw us ever closer to Jesus Christ. 

Stephen Connelly
Director of Faith & Regilious Studie