No two people are the same.  Everyone is different.  Everyone of YOU is different.  In fact, the greatest similarity you shared, when you arrived at St Mary’s was your difference.  College life is designed to help you appreciate your difference and so to discover your uniqueness because that’s what makes you YOU!

When you and I were born, we were honoured and claimed for our specialness.  Each of us is a one-off, never-to-be-repeated person, who will be forever like no other.

Just for a moment be very selfish.  Close your eyes and think about YOU.  Identify your uniqueness, and give it a hug!  This is who you are, and college life has played a big part in helping you come to that awareness.  Your individuality took on new significance when you reach St Mary’s because this is where now you were given the opportunity to become truly yourself, and to become true TO yourself.

In this Mass we give thanks for another year of college life, and those of you leaving college have the opportunity to give thanks for your time here.  My prayer is especially for you seniors as you step on to the road beyond the college gates.  A new journey begins and the way you have taken ownership of yourself here at St Mary’s will now be fully tested.

Here you have been challenged not to follow the crowd or the loudest voice or the sweetest tongue; and to never let yourself believe that you have nothing to offer.  125 years ago, a group of New Zealand women became a light to the world [Gospel, Mt 5:14-16] in gaining the vote for women.  Their efforts helped change the way the world sees women.

How will your light shine?  What difference will you make?  A Synod on Young People concluded this week in Rome and one statement says it is a “duty of justice” that women become involved in decision making in the Church.  You could be among the new suffragettes helping to shine new light on the face of the Church.

To be thankful for who you are does not mean you stay as you are and never grow or change or bring about change. You are truly thankful when you have not only recognised your uniqueness, but have learned how it can be used for the good of others – that’s gifting yourself.  If you aim to live justly, love tenderly and walk humbly with your God – 1st Reading – you’ll find yourself glimpsing something of the amazingly wonderful life God makes possible for you just because of who you are.

  • Living justly means you will always seek what is best for the other people in your life, respecting diversity;
  • Loving tenderly means that the way you love will be faithful and will put the needs of the other person ahead of your own – in loving service;
  • Walking humbly will be possible because you are comfortable with yourself and have no need to be anyone else – the humble celebrate unity in diversity.

A Jewish Rabbi, named Joshua, nearing the end of his life, wrote this:  When I meet God he will not ask me if I lived like Moses; he will ask me if I lived like Joshua.  That’s what you and I must remember.  God will not ask us if we lived like anyone else, he will want to know if we lived the uniqueness that is ours alone: did you live like you?