A Homily for Graduation— with directions for slides [Begin with Gospel Slide staying up. Gospel is Matthew 28:16-20]
The SPX Graduation and the Ascension/Pentecost Mystery we presently celebrate
Hello class! For those of you who even joined the school from the start, hello from someone who also came aboard around then to St. Pius and Bowie. Later, for those of you who were here in the 4th and 6th grade years—I was in Religion Class with you, enjoying your company, and we studied together the things of God. You were great classes to teach. Thank you. Then, next, you have gone on to your high achievement, today, adding on a few students, and now being this graduating class of the 8th grade. Bravo!
“Happy Graduation Day.” In this same week, in the Church, it is ironically the time in-between the great Ascension of Christ Jesus and the Descent, or sending, of the Holy Spirit from Heaven, to officially start the Church, with people having new life given into their souls at Pentecost. I see some connections of Graduation to Ascension and Pentecost.
[Slide of the Holy Spirit Window.]
From the Ascension up to Pentecost, people were praying back then in the first Gospel days, for some new big thing to come upon them, as a Gift from Jesus, Who ascended to the Throne of God for us. That big thing did happen when the Spirit of God was poured out upon them at Pentecost. Christianity officially began, and people went into a new higher phase of believing and living in Jesus.
In that connection to your graduation, look at the Ascension Mystery as like the commencement exercise for the Church. As the Church entered into her new realm, her new day, in Christ’ Victory, it was like a graduation into a new maturity and experience.
In this Mass of graduation, you receive diplomas, in recognition and reward for your work done here, as to empower you to head on into something bigger and new ahead. You go on into a higher phase of living and learning from here, all in the available inspiration of God.
When Christ went to the Throne for us, at the Ascension, He elevated believers to a new place in relationship to God, now as reconciled friends of God, or new sons and daughters risen up in faith. Jesus also gave out a promise that He and His Spirit would help us to eventually ‘graduate’ all the way to take our own place in Glory with Him. Eternal life. THAT is THE GRADUATION of graduations that which God says it is all very possible to those who LIVE by Faith in Him. That’s an exciting plan to be living in: to have “an inheritance in the saints of light.” Whatever you do ahead, brothers and sisters, keep your eyes on the prize of that ultimate graduation. Live to please the Lord in whatever you do, and wherever you are. And success will find your heart and soul.
[Slide up—The Ascension …like a graduation … a mountainside farewell]
Remember what the prophet Jeremiah advised in the Sprit: “Do not fall into fear and timidity, but live on with a future and a hope in which God gives you.” Jer.29:11.
God says He’s our power and hope.
So the Ascension of Jesus with His apostles and disciples was like a graduation, in that, it was the finish of the earthly ministry time of Jesus to His disciples. He was saying—as we heard in tonight’s gospel—but paraphrased here: ‘Ok, disciples. I will ascend now to Heaven, and you are finished in this time of ministry from me. You have learned much from Me, and now I sent you forth. Go to the next phase of your life in Me. You are ready.’ That sounds a bit like a graduation speech to me. And as you heard in tonight’s gospel, He said, ‘Go, spread the good news, baptize, teach, live in Me!’ That’s Jesus’ Great Commission. Graduations also have commissions or charges, like Jesus’ one on the Mount. God would have a message to you, tonight, in your graduation, like: “You have learned much, go forth now, to greater things. I believe in you!”
Graduation is also a bit of a mountain top moment. So it was at the Ascension on the Mount with Jesus. Yet you also look back upon how you have come so far and up to this point, and it is a good feeling, isn’t it? And we the faculty and teachers say: “Well done with what you’ve done here. Congratulations. You did it!”
[Slide up—Ascension Stained Glass window.]
And, with that, there is emotion and tears or feelings in you. It’s just like Jesus had at His Ascension, and how the people had it in the crowd around Him. It was a moving farewell, but it also was a great new beginning. Like in this graduation: there are tears, joy, many feelings, and it’s a high moment: A finish, and a new start.
At the Ascension, Jesus’ Victory was a shared one. As He won, so did the people. Know, my brothers and sisters, that as you succeed here tonight, your victory of graduation is something we all feel a share in. We are glad for you at your achievement thus far.
[Slide up—A New Beginning, A New Phase]
A connection I was trying to make here was in comparing the Ascension Mystery to a Graduation. Both lead to a new beginning, and onto a new phase. ‘Get it? Like the disciples, your graduation towards something new ahead may have a few of you also feeling a little nervous of what challenges lay head. Yet Jesus says to you and all, like He did on the Mount of the Ascension: ‘I will send you the power you need. I will give you the Holy Spirit. He will guide you to all things. He will help you.”
Just keep Faith. You know what FAITH might stand for tonight? “Forging Ahead, I’ll Trust Him (the Lord)!” Amen?! F A I T H.
[Slide up— Deus Lux Mea Est.]
Taking this homily to the final stretch, I have a little Latin phrase for you to use as a reminder of the Spirit’s coming for you in your life ahead. It is “Deus lux mea est.” Translated to English, it is “God’s Light mine is.” Or, put in better order: “God is my light.”
Put personally as a prayer, it can be: “God, help me believe and see how Your light is on my path ahead.” “Deus lux mea est.” You have a light to follow, young men and women, as you live soul-fully in your humanity, as we taught you here in this Catholic school. Just know the Glory of God’s light is there to lead His people through, in every new step of the way.” Deus lux mea est. God’s Light Mine is. And that Light of God will lead you to Heaven, too.
Getting into life with God in glory is THE final goal and destination of life; THAT is our ultimate “graduation” hope.
[Slide up—“Pax Et Bonum”]
Lastly, I have one more Latin phrase for you tonight. It is “Pax et Bonum!” It translates as Pax/Peace Et/and with plus Bonum/Goodness. Pax et Bonum! Peace and Goodness to you all, this graduation night… + +
[Last slide up—Blue Ribbon Hat pic of me]
From a fellow Blue Ribbon Hard Hatter, and with these other priestly fathers, and from myself, this former student of the school. Join me in being an alumnus now.