Something very basic from basic education.
[Homily: ADDU SHS Baccalaureate Mass, April 1, 2019.]
Today your basic education comes to an end. Hopefully in basic education you have learned the crucial basics for life. You know: if you have not learned the basics in education, you will be crippled going forward in higher education. And if education is for life, if you have not learned the basics, you will not succeed.
On the day your basic education ends, the message that the Lord gives you is very basic. It tells you a story. The story is of a royal official whose son was ill. The official went to Jesus and asked him to cure the son. Jesus simply replied to him. “You may go, your son will live.” The official left, believing in what Jesus said. Later he learned his son, was well. He had been cured at the very moment Jesus said he would be well. The story was a sign. St. John says it was the second of Jesus’s signs. Today I ask you: did you understand the sign? Understanding it is very basic.
The Gospel of St. John is a very rich Gospel. Every part of the Gospel, like the story of royal official’s son, must be understood in terms of the whole Gospel. That is very basic to the Gospel of John. The whole Gospel is summarized in the dramatic words of its Prologue.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning God. All things were made through him, and without him was made nothing that has been made.
The Prologue proclaims:
And this Word became flesh and dwelt among us. And we beheld his glory, the glory of the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and of truth.
But the Prologue also says:
He – the Word – was in the world and the world was made through him, and the world did not know him.
He came to his own, and his own did not receive him. But to as many who received him, to them he gave the right to become children of God.
The message of the message of the Prologue is very basic. Graduating from basic education, did you get it?
The Word was God.
The Word came into the world. As the true light.
But his own did not receive him. They not only did not receive him. In darkness, they killed him. They crucified him.
But to as many who believed in him, they became children of God.
This is very basic. Did you get it? The story of Jesus’s cure of the royal official’s son that we heard is the second of many signs in the Gospel of St. John. There are famously eight signs in John’s Gospel. Seven signs in John’s Gospel represent the seven days of God’s creation, creation that was marred by sin, shame, envy, hatred, darkness, violence and death caused by sin. The eighth sign is the Resurrection – Jesus’ resurrection after his having been lifted up on the Cross, when he lifted us all to himself, us in all our sinfulness – so that in this, the Father’s New Creation, we might be born again to everlasting life.
This eighth sign of the Resurrection, is very basic. You who sign yourselves in the Cross live in the life and hope of the New Creation that is the Resurrection.
This is very basic. In your basic education, did you get it? Did you come to an encounter with Jesus Christ who changed water into wine to save his friends from embarrassment, who healed the paralytic at Bethesda to insist that taking care of people does not violate the Sabbath, who fed 5000 from five barley loaves and two fish in order to present himself as the Living Bread that we are to take and eat and make part of us, who walked on the troubled waters of the sea of Galilee to tell his disciples, “It is I. Do not be afraid.” (Jn 6:20), who healed the man born blind from birth, and raised his friend, Lazarus, from the dead? In your basic education did you come to an encounter with Jesus, who suffered, died and rose for you that you might experience yourselves loved, gifted and empowered. Encountering Jesus, did you believe in him?
This is very basic. Did you get it?
We celebrate today in the hope that you did, that you have understood God’s signs in your lives and have encountered Jesus, the Father’s Word, who “was made flesh” and said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life; I have come to bring Life, life to the full.” This is very basic. You have no access to God except through Jesus. You do not know the one God except through Jesus. You cannot relate to the Father except through Jesus. You cannot praise God except through Jesus. You cannot pray meaningfully, except through Jesus. “For,” as we proclaim at the highpoint of each Mass, “it is through him and with him and in him, O God almighty Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor are yours forever and ever.” This is very basic.
Did you get it? If you did, it will basically challenge, change and direct your entire life. It will determine how you deal with people, some of whom are believers in Jesus, many of whom are not. It will shape where you find meaning in life and how you make your decisions. It will certainly – necessarily – bring you suffering, but also abiding personal joy. This is the grace we beg God for you all as you end your basic education at our Senior High School and commence your journey through college to the rest of your lives.
Celebrating Youth, Loved, Gifted and Empowered
[Commencement Address, ADDU SHS, April 1, 2019]
This has been a joyful celebration of your graduation. But it has also been long. So I will try to be as brief as possible.
You graduate during the celebration of the seventieth year of the Ateneo de Davao University. But you also graduate in the Year of the Youth, when the Church celebrates youth, beloved, gifted and empowered.
Graduating from SHS, you are youth beloved. You are here surrounded by all those who love you: your mothers, your fathers, your sisters and brothers, the friends of your families, your benefactors, and your own friends, many of whom are your own classmates. All these love you. You are surrounded by the teachers and administrators who have not only taught you well, but have cared for your individually and personally, loving you often as their own. You are surrounded also by your God in front of you, above you, below you, behind you, loving you each. You are youth beloved.
We give thanks for you as youth gifted. Today we celebrate the gift of your Senior High School education. Your education is a gift. It comes from the goodness of your parents, from the skill and dedication of your teachers, from the wisdom of your administrators, from the wealth of knowledge and skills that is passed on to you from generation to generation. But we can celebrate the gift of your Senior High School education today only because you yourselves are gifted, and because you have had the talent and the ability to tackle the challenges of the ADDU SHS and succeed. You are gifted in the talents your Creator has given you and that your parents have nurtured in you. Certainly you are youth gifted.
We give thanks for you as youth empowered. Loved, loved, loved you are empowered to love, love, love. Gifted, you are empowered to give. Having learned well, you are empowered to learn more. Having been served, you are empowered to serve others, to be men and women for others. Having been endowed with so many extraordinary gifts, you are empowered to be to others an extraordinary gift. Having been given the gift of faith, you are empowered to share your faith with others, not arrogantly, forcing yourselves on others, but humbly, empowered always to learn more from others, allowing God to manifest himself to them through you and to manifest himself to you through them. Certainly, you are youth empowered.
On the 70th anniversary of the ADDU, in the Year of the Youth, I congratulate you, youth beloved, gifted and empowered in the grace of our God.
But even as I congratulate you, I say a special word of thanks to your parents who have sacrificed so much to provide you with the ADDU SHS education that is now completed in you. Thank you, our dear parents, for entrusting your children to us, and for the great sacrifice you have made to accompany your children to the joy of this day.
May Mary, our Blessed Mother, keep you ever close to her Son, who with the Father in the Spirit missions you in our world today to love, love, love 525,600 minutes a year for the rest of your lives!