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“Feed your faith and your fears will starve to death.” Author Unknown.

It’s a tough gig encouraging students to trust that God (love) is tangible amidst a world that can often be cruel, cynical and unjust where too many young men feel overwhelmed by powerlessness and seeming insignificance. A world where too many feel like David standing before Goliath as justice stands before violence and forgiveness before hatred. A world where too often the power of David (love, justice and forgiveness) always seems hopelessly outmatched by the systematic disdain of Goliath (hatred, ignorance and hurt).

The image of David before Goliath also depicts how our personal faith stands before our consumer world – it seemingly doesn’t stand a chance. Forces such as hatred, ignorance and hurt (Goliath) don’t exactly cower when personal faith (David) marches out to do battle against them. But we know the outcome! From his shepherd’s pouch, David produces his slingshot and the smooth pebble that successfully fells the giant. What luck! Or was it? As a shepherd, David would have spent countless lonely hours practising with his slingshot and searching for and polishing the right pebbles for his pouch. In order to really make them his own he would have known exactly which ones to use and when. One current issue that seems like a David (love, justice and forgiveness) versus Goliath (hatred, ignorance and hurt) battle that of legalising same-sex marriage. Indeed, homophobia is a cruel and unjust issue that affects too many young men and on College Assembly this week I will be challenging our community about the use of homophobic language.

Regarding this issue, one of my formative memories was during World Youth Day in 2008 during a pilgrimage walk to the Final Mass. It had been a time of singing, laughter, colour and community. At one stage we approached some very angry protesters who were verbally abusing us about the Church’s stance on homosexuality. As I walked along I was proud that we live in a democracy where people had the right to free speech and choice however I was even more proud of the pilgrims’ response. Very quickly the protesters anger and bitterness subsided as our section that had Sudanese, Argentineans, French, Americans, Iraqis and Timorese began to chant OUR GOD LOVES YOU JUST THE WAY YOU ARE!’ This continued as we walked past and the protesters even began to applaud! The pebble (love) had felled Goliath (hatred and hurt).

Long before we walk onto any battlefield to confront what opposes love, justice and forgiveness, we too need to spend countless lonely hours polishing the pebbles of our shepherd’s (faith) pouch – love, justice and forgiveness. These are our faith pebbles, our weapons against Goliath that, over time, form mountains that fell the giants before us.

Conor Finn, Dean of Formation