Saturday, June 7, 2014

Homily - ICOLPH School Baccalaureate

Acts of the Apostles 20:28-38
John 17:11b-19

Goodbyes are always tough. 
But go through them we must, sometimes, over and over again in our lives.  And each time we say goodbye it’s painful.
Just ask the people St. Paul is saying goodbye today in the Acts of the Apostles, as we hear “(the people) were weeping loudly.”
Today, our eighth graders say goodbye to ICOLPH school.  Yes, there’s weeping here too.  Hopefully for your sake none of it will be too “loudly.”   I know teenagers embarrass easily.
For our graduates, this has been home for many years.  In fact, for some, this is the only school you’ve ever known.  But now is the time to say goodbye.

Ahead are struggles and triumphs, new friends, and old friendships that will change.  Ahead is the uncharted territory of high school and then adulthood.
Are you a little nervous about that?  It’s OK.  Maybe your excited?  That’s OK, too.  Maybe you’re a little of both?  Totally normal.
The apostle Paul knew that with change comes a mix of emotions as you walk on to new horizons.
For those we leave behind, there’s sadness. 
Hey, Fr. Hersey and I are sad because we’re losing some of our best altar servers.  But great replacements will step forward and our seventh and six graders will do great, too.
And for our soon to be 9th graders, please remember to continue to serve your Church community as an usher or greeter or music minister, and eventually lector or Eucharistic minister.
St. Paul has left us with an important message as we move on in our lives:
“We must help the weak, and keep in mind the words of the Lord Jesus who himself said, 'it is more blessed to give than to receive'"
These are words to live by.  Helping those who are on the margins in our world and self-sacrifice, these are two beautiful ways we live out the Kingdom here on earth.
These words should be your North Star as you navigate the waters of change that lie ahead. 
And Jesus has a message for you today, too.  It comes in the form of a powerful prayer for his followers.  He prays it to his Father just before his crucifixion as you heard in today’s Gospel:
“Consecrate them to the truth.  Your word is the truth.  As you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world.”
He’s talking about each and every one of you.  You’re being sent into the world.  Jesus has a mission for each of you as you are being sent into the world (just as he had a mission for St. Paul).  In the years ahead, each of you will figure out what that mission is.
When you get to college someday, you might find yourself in a Newman Center.  This is a place for Catholic young men and women to gather on campus for fellowship.
These centers are named after a famous Catholic named blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman.  He was an Anglican who converted to Catholicism at Oxford, the largest university England.  He went on to found the Catholic college in Dublin, Ireland, called University College.

Cardinal Newman has a message for you today, too.  As you hear his words, think about what plans God has for your life.
Cardinal Newman said, “God has created me to do him some definite service; he has committed some works to me which he did not committed to another.  I have my mission – I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next.  I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons.  He has not created me for nothing.  Therefore, I will trust him. “
Do you trust in God and His call and purpose for your life?
That’s what Jesus is praying for today.  He’s praying for you, his disciple.  His wish is for you to be sanctified, and consecrated to His Father’s truth and to holiness. 
The “word for consecration comes from the Hebrew word meaning holy or set apart for God.  This word also means to be equipped with qualities of mind and heart and character for such a task or service.”

The truth you are being consecrated to is what Cardinal Newman was talking about in his message to you.  It’s your mission as you say “goodbye” to ICOLPH School to start searching for the plan God has for your life. 
How do you do this? 
Now your deacon has an important message for you:  Learn to pray. 
Unplug from your iPhone, iPad, video games, computer, TV -- all these man-made devices.  And plug into the divine source of your very being and existence in this world, the one who gifted you with life. Plug into God.
Take at least five minutes a daily and do nothing, but pray.  If you don’t know what to say, just sit still before your creator and listen for His voice. 
In my humble opinion, the problem with today’s world is that we have so much chaos and busyness going on that we fail to find time to listen to the quiet voice of our Lord that exists in our heart. 
Instead, we get caught up with human emotions -- that are usually NOT divinely inspired -- and say and do stupid things. 
Sometimes we even have the arrogance to think, “I did that because I was inspired by the Holy Spirit,” when in fact, the inspiration came from your own head, and the voice inside of you that’s shaped by your human experiences.  It is not the voice of God.
To hear the voice of God, you need stillness and quiet.  You need to be open to the spirit moving within you. 
If the voice you hear is calling you to goodness, kindness, compassion and love, it is the voice of God.  Follow it.
If the voice is calling you to suspicion, judgment, hatred, and revenge, it is not the voice of God.  Do Not Follow It!
These are powerful messages you heard today. 
These grown-up thoughts should make you all a little nervous and a little excited.   It’s why some of us are shedding tears today because we know the journey ahead into adulthood won’t always be easy. 
Stay close to our buddy Jesus, his Father the creator of the universe, and the Holy Spirit.  This Holy trio will help guide you as you find your way and discover the plan God has for your life.
I want to congratulate each and every one of you.  I’m so proud of you.  Go forth and boldly live out the plan God has for you and your lives.  Go make a difference in this world.

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