[Homily. Alumni/ae Mass. Assumption 30 December 2022]
On the 7th anniversary of the blessing by Abp. Romulo Valles of this chapel of the Assumption, on the seventh anniversary as well of the passing of our benefactor, Mr. Sanjo Dakudao, without whose support this Chapel, the Community Center of the First Companions and Martin Hall could not have been built, on the day of the Grand Alumni/ae Homecoming this evening in The Tent of the Azuela Cove, and, this year, on the Feast of the Holy Family, we come home to ADDU, not only to one another, to old teachers and friends who have influenced us indelibly for life, but we come home to the Heart of the University, the source of its life, mission and whatever success it attains. We come home to our Lord and King, Jesus Christ. We have in this week just celebrated his birth, the birth of Emmanuel, God with us, the incarnate Word of the compassionate Father, the Word of Love he speaks to us from the manger as well as from the Cross. You come home to ADDU celebrating 25 years and 50 since your high school graduation, some less, others even more. But in coming home to the Lord, you come home celebrating the Father who so loved the world that he gave us his only begotten Son not only from the beginning of your lives but from the beginning. From the very beginning. Period. He so loved you from the beginning, and has “blessed you with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, as he chose [you] in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him in love.” This, so that in the fullness of time, we may ultimately come home to him and the Father in the eternity of God’s heavenly kingdom.
We come home to the Lord, because for many of us, driven by sundry concerns in this exciting, enticing but cruel world, we strayed away from the Lord, like once the prodigal son strayed away from his father. But today, in the joy of an Alumni/ae Homecoming, in the joy of remembering old teachers, old lessons and cherished Ignatian ideals, like Magis, Ad majorem Dei gloriam, finding God in all things, being women and men for others, we come home – or we are invited to come home (for this cannot be automatic) – to the Lord, who in the Spirit leads us back the Father’s eternal embrace.
In coming home to the Lord, the Heart of this University and the source of its identity and mission, he invites you and all at ADDU to participate in the Father’s threefold work of reconciliation: first, of reconciling ourselves with himself; second, of reconciling ourselves with one another; and third, or reconciling ourselves with his Creation, our common home.
We wish to participate – humbly – in the Father’s work of bringing us home to himself. For some of us, we have abandoned his home and have begun in foreign places to worship strange and graven gods – like lust, or like avarice, like money, like personal glory, like power. Today we want to come home – or at least consider it. And to bring others home with us.
We wish to participate – humbly – in the Father’s work of reconciling us with one another. The Father works to reconcile me with the spouse from whom I am estranged, with the son who has hurt me in disobedience, with the daughter who refuses to listen to my counsel. We wish to assist the Father in working out lasting peace in Mindanao, in making the economy work for Mindanawons, in fostering the dialogue, collaboration, and understanding between diverse peoples of diverse religions whom he created diverse, in making such as the BARMM work. We in God’s name wish to participate in the effort to stop the Russian aggression against Ukraine, to stop the cruelty of making freedom-loving people – especially civilian elderly and children – suffer unbearable cold and hardship in these winter months We wish to participate in the Father’s work of reconciling the Israelis with the Palestinians, the Iranian theocrats with their people struggling for freedom, the Afghan Taliban with their women shut out from the workforce, China with Taiwan, the US and NATO with Russia and China.
We wish to participate in the Father’s work of reconciling us with his creation, our common home. For effectively – in our addiction to fuels that emit greenhouse gasses and cause the devastations of global warming and climate change, in the destruction of our biodiverse forests to make way for mining and monocrop plantations, we have wounded, tortured and destroyed creation as if it were our worst enemy. Like the way we are allowing the foreign builders of a Samal-Davao bridge to destroy a precious coral reef, which spawns biodiversity in the Davao Gulf. Without working with the Father to reconcile us with creation, creation will fight back as it is fighting back in the extreme weather occurrences we have seen in the US, in devastating temperature increases, in loss of clean drinking water, in increases in sea levels.
We thank the Lord that part of the great service our silver jubilarians under the leadership of Juan Gadi have promoted renewable photovoltaic energy for needy communities and needy ADDU scholars. Relative to the use of renewable energy, all of our communities are needy.
Recalling the letter of Fr. Pedro Arrupe to Alumni/ae of Jesuit Schools worldwide in 1973 entitled Men and Women for Others and his insistence “that participation in the promotion of justice and the liberation of the oppressed is a constitutive element of the mission which Our Lord has entrusted [to our Church],” we wish to appreciate that in each of these areas of participating in the Father’s work of reconciliation, justice is essential. There is no reconciliation with the Father without justice, and no justice without reconciliation with the Father. There is no reconciliation of human beings with human beings without personal and social justice. He who says he loves as a Christian without personal and social justice is a liar. Ultimately, Jesus, the Just Judge says, “Whatever you have done or not done to one of these, the least of our sisters and brothers, that you have done or not done to me” (cf. Mt 25: 40,45). Whoever honors God’s Creation as his gift for all protects it to benefit not just some but all. Justice demands that the planet God created for all be preserved and used for all.
So welcome to you coming home to ADDU! Welcome to you coming home to the Lord! Welcome home to consider his invitation to participate in the mission of the University not only as individuals but – on the Feast of the Holy Family – as families and friends. Welcome home, Blue Knights, to the King, for whom, we “take our stand,” for whom we “fight strong and true,” and before whom, before whose command, “our hearts bow.”