My dear friends, these graduation ceremonies are not the celebration of one student, or one class, or even of one school. It is as a parish that we gather this evening to give thanks to God for whom nothing is impossible.
Our students have come to this point not just through the sacrifices of their families, though great sacrifices they are; and not just through the education of a superior faculty and staff, though educated they have become.
They arrive at this point in their lives with the encouragement of this entire parish, who with great pride, graduates them into a new stage in their lives. For this, our parish celebrates the Sacrifice of the Mass in the Memorial of Saint Anthony of Padua, our patron, whose festival day we remember.
But let us now consider the Gospel revealed today:
“When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side,” Jesus takes the initiative to cross over the sea, always a metaphor for confusion and doubt. Jesus deliberately crosses over to minister to us, ‘on the other side.’
The first great lesson to remember tonight, my dear students: that Jesus takes the lead in finding us, no matter where we are hiding.
Then what happens: Jairus, a synagogue official, ‘came forward.’ Why does Mark have Jairus come forward, because even a synagogue official can thirst for Truth and Hunger for God.
The second great lesson to remember tonight, my dear students: that all of us, no matter who we are or how great or less we become, we thirst for Truth and hunger for God.
And how does Jairus find Truth and become satiated with God? ‘Seeing Jesus he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him. Wow! Jairus was very low that day I’m afraid that all he had left was to fall on his knees and plead earnestly.
The third great lesson to remember tonight, my dear students: that all of us need to come to a moment of clarity, that without God we are nothing nor is any good thing possible without Him. Fall on your knees every night and give thanks and glory where it rightly belongs, to God.
As we learn these lessons, Jesus approaches the synagogue official and says, “Do not be afraid; just have faith.”
Parents, Friends, Parishioners, this is where you come in, because you never left. “Just have faith.” These lights are entrusted to us to be kept burning brightly because they are, like us, children of the light! Saint Anthony of Padua said once, “Teach with words, love with deeds.” If we are going to teach them these lessons in life, we will need to learn them and to act upon them. We cannot just teach the faith; we must learn it and love because of it.
And so my dear graduates, in words of the incomparable William Shakespeare (Merchant of Venice, Act 2, Scene 7) “Adieu! I have too grieved a heart to take a tedious leave. ~William Shakespeare
The last Eighth Grade Graduation of the School at Mother of Divine Providence within the Mass in memorial of Saint Anthony of Padua, June 13, 2012