Monday, May 23, 2011
Baccalaureate Homily, Class of 2011
At the baccalaureate mass for our graduating students, our school chaplain, Deacon Brian Edwards, gave such a moving homily that I asked him if I could post this on my blog, and he agreed.
There is nothing more important to the life and mission of our school
than that each and every one of you find the truth of Jesus Christ.
As Jesus said in today’s gospel,
“I am the way and the truth and the life.”
I hope that you’ve experienced Jesus wandering the halls of JP2.
I hope that he’s taught you in our classrooms,
and sat beside you in the dining hall.
I hope that he’s played next to you on our sports fields,
I hope that you’ve experienced Jesus in the sacrifice of the Mass.
I hope that you’ve seen him and experienced him,
Because that’s what it’s all about!
That’s what really matters!
You are about to graduate from high school,
and this is a time for celebration.
You should be proud of your accomplishments.
BUT you also stand at a major crossroads in your life.
You have many decisions to make,
about colleges, careers, and relationships.
Every decision brings you closer to God’s ultimate plan for you,
Or distances you from God and weakens you as a person.
It may seem odd for me to tell you this very personal story
on the eve of your graduation,
but I think it’s worth telling.
My brother graduated from Fr. Ryan in 1986
with a bright future ahead of him.
He went to college.
He was smart,
but he didn’t make good personal decisions.
He got involved in dangerous and risky activities--
And he became an alcoholic and an addict.
In 1986 when he was graduating from high school
he saw only the possibilities in his life.
But by the sum total of his decisions,
his risky behaviors,
his bad relationships,
His living life on the edge,
He developed a severe addiction that he never broke.
Instead his addiction broke him.
He went into treatment multiple times over many years,
but several years ago his cocaine addiction destroyed his life,
and he died a tragic and sudden death.
My little brother--
my baby brother.
He was at a crossroads in his life when he graduated high school,
but he took the wrong road.
I cannot adequately share with you the pain it caused my mother,
the pain it caused me and the rest of our family
to see a life full of such promise cut short so tragically.
As I say this to you, I can almost hear you thinking,
“What does this have to do with us?
…that’ll never happen to me!”
I truly hope it doesn’t,
but he would have said the same thing as he sat at his Baccalaureate Mass
on the eve of his high school graduation.
Every decision you make matters.
Every decision brings you closer to
or distances you more from
God’s ultimate plan for you.
The lure of materialism, greed and selfishness and lust are hard to resist.
And it’s especially hard when you go off to college.
College parties, alcohol, and so many other temptations are everywhere.
Work hard to preserve your dignity, your heart, your body and your soul!
God designed us for a particular purpose.
He’s created us for a specific destiny
--to be with him.
In the gospel today, Jesus said,
“In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places.”
and “I am going to prepare a place for you.”
You are graduating from JP2 having learned much about the Catholic faith.
At a time when many people get their theology from shows like
or from other worldly influences like the gospel according to Hollywood
--or made-up theologies you can buy by the car-load in the self-help
or New Age section of the local bookstore,
at JP2 you have learned authentic Christian doctrine that actually means something.
Live the Christian faith!
and share it!
Along with many Catholics,
JP2 also has a number of Christian students from other churches.
This is truly one of our strengths
--that we find Christ in each other,
that we learn from each other,
and that we grow together more deeply in our faith.
This faith is entrusted to you as you graduate from JP2.
Be strong in faith!
Make good decisions!
Represent the mission and values of Pope John Paul II High School!
Stay close to the Church and to the sacraments!
Find a Church on your college campuses!
help your sons and daughters find a Church.
Along with your prayers
and your love,
there is no greater gift you can give them.