[Homily: Mass of the Holy Spirit, 2014]
We call on the Sprit of God today to bless our academic year at the Ateneo de Davao University. We ask him to bless the commitment of our academic community (our universitas) to truth. We know, “truth” can sometimes seem so abstract, so hackneyed, so meaningless.
But we wish to broaden our knowledge of God, of how he creates, redeems and renews this world, and how we ought to relate with God. We wish this urgently, even as in our world today the name of God is invoked for violent destruction, hateful condemnation, and human degeneration, and human beings relate to God not in love of fellow human beings, but in hatred, not in kindness but in cruelty, not in truth but in deception. We wish to know the truth of God, and how we are to relate with him truthfully.
We wish to widen our knowledge of his creation, to be awed by its sublime mysteries in the tiniest of atomic particles and in unimaginably vast spaces of multiple galaxies, to gain insight into its many secrets, and learn how to unlock its powerful secrets for the good of human kind. We wish this urgently, because we know of how creation is disrespected, of how the heights of the mountains and the depths of the seas are ignored, so too the stateliness of the old native trees and the wonder of the eternal rivers. Today, too often, we see these mountains wasted, the seas polluted, the trees felled, the rivers poisoned in the name of some peculiar interest. We wish to know the truth of creation, and how to relate to it truthfully.
We wish to deepen our knowledge of humanity, wrought from dust, returning to dust, but fashioned in the image and likeness of God. The human being is invited to worship God, only one God, and in worship of this one God, to recognize all human beings as sisters and brothers in God. He or she is called to love, to be perfect as the heavenly father is perfect, to love one’s neighbor as oneself, and to take special care of the poor and the sick. “Whatever you do to one of these, the least of my brothers and sisters, that you do to me” (Mt. 25:40) We have heard these truths, proclaimed and repeated over and over again, in our parishes and religion classes. But we need at the outset of this academic year to continue to search for its truth, and our truth: to take stock of where our humanity made in God’s image is, our humanity too often reduced to having a nice celfon or a nice tablet, and whose increasing wealth excludes our poor; our humanity that worships in churches, temples, mosques, before ancient stones and in venerable forests, but cannot find God in the cry of the poor; our humanity that puts together the multi billion-dollar spectacle of the World Cup, but is unable to overcome the scandal of poverty in it favelas; our civilization which has from long hard experience rejected evils of identifying a governance system with God’s will, but continues to rampage in war, to extinguish innocent life and to abuse children as God’s will. Of course we are diverse peoples and diverse religions, and many things done by others are different from the way we would do things. But no matter how distant the Ukranian separatists, the Syrian Crisis, the Boko Haram, the ISIS, the Chinese expansionism, the world-class football player who bit a player for lowclass advantage, and the senators and congressmen that bit into the people’s money as Adam bit into forbidden fruit, we all belong to one humanity, for which we must take responsibility. We worship God, not money. We revere human beings, not animals. We seek truth, not lies.
For this, we invoke the Holy Spirit.
To broaden our knowledge of God, to widen our knowledge of his creation, to deepen our knowledge of our humanity, we pray to be touched by the Spirit of God. May this be the Spirit that moves us away from learning just to get grades, or learning just to impress others, or learning just to earn money. May this be the Spirit rather that excites us by the discovery of new knowledge in and out of the box, inspires us about discovering how humanity can be uplifted, and strengthens us in the hard work that such discovery requires. May this Spirit bind us in community – a community of students, teachers, administrators, staff – that encourages the pursuit of truth – through instruction, study, conversation, discussion, debate and discipline – and from this shared pursuit draws us together in joy.
Perhaps, especially this year, we can call on the Spirit of God to lead us in truth to peace. In his Spirit, especially in our Mindanao, may we discover why peace is desired, why peace is deserved, and what our obligations are in building this peace. That Spirit can come as a driving wind, a cacophonous noise that unsettles us. It can also come as a gentle breeze, that strengthens our resolve. Orlando Cardinal Quevedo, OMI, has said that the problem of the Muslim peoples in Mindanao is greatly one of injustice, the injustice done them over centuries of discrimination, hatred, misunderstanding and war. In God’s Spirit may we distinguish ourselves in this University in articulating and rectifying that injustice. In truth, this will not be brought about just by signatures of political leaders on parchment. It can only be brought about by a reconversion to the God of creation, the God of nature, the God of Humanity – the God of peace, the God of love. We would be blessed if in our university we might be able to prostrate ourselves before this God of Truth.
Meanwhile, in this Eucharist, we unite ourselves to the redeeming Son, in whose Spirit of Truth we are led back to the Father of creation, nature, humanity – and compassion.
 In the Law School may we give special attention to the Bangsamoro Basic Law, and consistent with our Constitution its role in giving Muslim communities in the Philippines a homeland. Through it may historical injustices be rectified and true hope for peace be strengthened.
 …nor even by the enactment of a Bangsamoro Basic Law.