[Homily for Mass for ADDU Freshmen Orientation: College of Nursing, School of Business and Governance]
Every Eucharistic Celebration is a special celebration of thanksgiving. Today, from the viewpoint of the Ateneo de Davao, we are grateful that you are here, that you have chosen ADDU over other schools, that you have opted to join our University community. If “it’s more fun at the ADDU”, it’s because we’re gifted not only with great teachers, formators and workers, but because we have talented students like yourselves who have joined us, and are now part of our community. We work hard, but we also play hard. We study and think, but we also party, we sing, we dance – like no other!
From your viewpoint, I suppose you too feel a sense of gratitude. Many others would have liked to come to the ADDU, but lack the academic preparation. Many others would have liked to gain access to the humane and professional education that is cultivated here, but lacked the financial or personal requirements. From your viewpoint, as you understand the work and sacrifices your parents undertake to send you here, you may have reason at this Eucharistic celebration to give thanks.
It is certainly my hope that as you give thanks “because it’s more fun at the ADDU” and enter more deeply into the culture of the ADDU, you increasingly give thanks because you have joined a university that is serious about its vision and mission. I presume you have been exposed to the Vision and Mission statement; actually, it is more than a statement. We pray that and as the months, semesters and years go by you will grow in understanding and appreciation of the university’s spirit or soul that is expressed in this vision and mission.
Part of that vision says that we are a university. Originally, “university” comes from the expression “universitas magistrorum et scholarum” – a community of teachers and students who had come together in academic freedom to pursue truth. Till this day, “university” carries that meaning. We are a community – a coming together of intelligent human beings, bonding with each other through a shared “gaudium de veritate” – a joy in truth. We pursue truth in academic freedom. We teach. We learn. We discover truth. We find joy in teaching, and joy in learning, and joy in truth. Once we find the truth, we stand to the truth – no matter the cost.
Part of that truth relates us to God, part of that truth relates us to one another, part of that truth relates us to the environment. Each of us, in this Catholic, Jesuit and Filipino university, will have to increasingly understand how we individually relate to God, to human society, and to the environment. How do we ourselves freely respond to God, to his love for us, to his mission for us? How do we relate to human society, to the challenges today of globalization, the diversity of cultures, the injustice we see in the world, the dehumanizing poverty, the squalor and the deprivation? Where there are so many competing activities and interests, many of them corrosive of the human spirit, how do we pursue what is good? How do we pursue the common good? How do we pursue the good of all in our relationship with the environment? So many times the environment has been sacrificed for the good of some. For the profit of some, the forests have been felled; they’re gone. For the profit of some miners, the countryside has been ravaged; the damage is forever.
You are here in great numbers from the School of Business and Governance; in fewer numbers, you are here from the College of Nursing. You have come with your dreams, your hopes, your desires for “the good life”. Perhaps, part of this Mass would be to beg God to bless those dreams, and to make them come true as he wills. We wish to beg God to deal with you personally in this university, that your dreams for your life meld with his dreams for you in the future. You mother and father have dreams for you, so too your brothers and sisters and friends. But consider: God too has dreams for you. “The good life,” as dreamed for you by God, may be far more exciting and far more profound than the pictures of sophisticated celebrities you see in fashion magazines. The “good life” for a businessman and entrepreneur may be far more meaningful than a life consumed in pursuing profits, accumulating capital, and working life away in order to gain more profit. The “good life” for a nurse may be much more challenging than a job in an American hospital. The “good life” may be informed by what is the central message of our Gospel today.
The Gospel today says: “The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve – and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mk 11:45). Jesus says, “Whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all” (Mk 11:43-44). He who came so “that we may have life, and life to the full” (Cf. Jn 10:10) came in service, himself stooping down in service to wash the feet of his disciples. For you, this may mean that before God you ask: what is the service angle of my being in the school of business and governance? Is there more to business for me than the profit motive? What is the service angle of my being in the College of Nursing? Is there more to nursing for me than going abroad? Where there is so much poverty in the Philippines, what is the role of business and entrepreneurship? Where there is so much sickness and suffering in the Philippines, what is the role of the nurse?
We thank God for bringing you to the Ateneo de Davao. We thank God for the hopes you bring to this school, and invite you to open yourselves to the hopes God has for you in this school.