[Homily: Baccalaureate Mass for ADDU Law School and Graduate School, April 24, 2016].
Of course a Baccalaureate Mass is a glorious event. We come together in thanksgiving for the graces you have received in the Law School and in the Graduate School of the ADDU. Your studies in law are among the most rigourous in the country. That is the same with your masteral and doctoral studies in the arts and sciences, in businss and governance, in health care, in engineering, and in education. The regimes of study have not been easy, sometimes close to overwhelming. But you have survived them; you have grown in them; you have prevailed. For you, this Mass and the graduation rites that follow, are rightly part of a glorious day.
Part of its gloriousness is the beauty of the Liturgical celebration. You graduate in the Season of Easter when the fullness of the Christian Pascal Mystery, the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus, is celebrated and reflected on. In our Gospel for today, the glory of the Paschal Mystery is presumed in the post-resurrection words of Jesus. From John’ Gospel, they are dramatic; they are regal. “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will also glorifiy him in himself” (Jn 13:31-32). What glorification means in this context may not be immediately apparent, but it is the core message of the Good News acording to John. In the resurrection, God glorified the Son in lifting him up from the dead. The Son had glorified the Father in his obedience to his redemptive will –obedience unto death. He would not himself have wanted the passion and death. He said, “If it is possible, let this chalice be taken from me!” But he also said, “Yet not my will, your will be done!” He had given all of himself to doing his Father’s will, to preaching the Kingdom of God, to manifesting the Father’s light in a darkened world, to battling those who not only turned away from his message, but plotted his elimination; now, as a consequence of that preaching, steadfast in manifesting the truth of the Kingdom of God, the truth of Father’s love for the world, he emptied all of himself in his passion and death. As so, he was lifted up, glorified on the Cross and died as a profound sign of his love for his and of his Father’s love for us all. Thus in the Resurrection, the Father lifted him up, glorifying him eternally. Understanding glorification in this context, the Johannine statement might be simply re-stated as follows: “Now is the Son of Man loved [in his obedience], and God is loved in him. If God is loved in him, God will also love him in himself.” God is love (cf. 1 Jn 4:8b): The divine love that saves the world in the Word becoming flesh, manifests the Love between the Father and the Son. This is the glory of God.
It is in this glorious context that the Lord gives us his commandment: “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (Jn. 13:34-35). What is addressed to all Jesus’ disciples is addressed to you: love one another. And lest this be understood to be a merely soppy, superficial love, he sets the standard for the quality of his commanded love: “as I have loved you,” so ought you love one another. As I have loved you in teaching you of the Kingdom of God, in telling you the truth about the value of every human being, the importance of the least and peripheralized in society, the danger of riches, the passing traps of the earthly and the lasting importance of the heavenly, as I have loved you in feeding your hungry, curing your sick and raising your dead, as I have loved you even in torture and pain, loving you still from the Cross, from there gazing into your heart, so ought you to love one another.
Your moment of graduation glory is celebrated in the context of the glory of the resurrected Lord loving each of you individually, justifying your lives eternally, and commanding you to love one another. Especially as graduates of higher education, now among the educated elite of the country, you can obey this command or ignore it. For this command can be accepted only in freedom, since there is no love without freedom, as God’s love for us all is totally free, totally gratuitous. Today, whether you be lawyers or social scientists or business leaders or health care specialists or engineers or educators, you are called to love one another, where love, being godly, “is patient, is kind, is not pompous, is not inflated, is not rude, not self-seeking, not quick-tempered, does not brood over injury, does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (cf. 1 Cor 13: 4-7). You are called to love one another, without exception, without neglecting the least of the Lord’s sisters and brothers in society; for in the end you will be judged on what you have done or not done for the least of God’s children in society (cf. Mt. 25:40, 45).
In your graduation glory, be humble. All glory ultimately comes from the glory of the Lord, who emptied himself in obedience to the Father and in love for us. God’s glory: its most stunning manifestation is in the washing of the feet. God’s glory: its most awesome revelation is in the love of the Crucified on Cross. Live, glorified and humbled in God’s glory. With your new knowledge and the new possibilities or your professional status, live only for the greater glory of God.