The following homily was delivered by School President, Fr. Aristotle Dy, SJ, during the first Grade 10 Closing Ceremony Mass last 10 March 2015.
Tuesday of the Third Week of Lent
Your batch is special. I am not sure you appreciate the unique position in which you find yourself. After all, you may think you are simply ending another school year and getting on with high school. Two more years. So it’s called G11 and G12 now, not H3 and H4. In any case, you will finish. You’ve had your Confirmation. Two-thirds of your batch have already been to XCE. You can look forward to the special experiences in the next level like Days with the Lord. Maybe at this moment, you are thinking more of what you’ll be doing during the summer break.
But in fact, it is not business as usual. Every single one of you here is about to embark on a new journey—Senior High School. It used to be that only those who are going into the IB program would feel the difference, would feel the start of something new, but now all of you are going to undergo something new. Whether you are in IB or the standard program, Senior High School is a new ball game. You know that already from the choices you’ve made so far in regard to courses and electives. It may seem like a messy situation, but it will all become clearer in time.
It is to help you experience the end of something, and the beginning of something new, that we have gathered this afternoon for a closing Mass and program to cap your years in Junior High School. Again, maybe it has not really hit you that the last four years have been your Junior High School. I still heard people referring to you this year as High 2 students. But no, you are now finishing Junior High School. This is your special moment. In a simple way, we are marking this moment when you complete JHS and embark on a new journey.
As you do so, I think it is important to assure you of a few things. First, that you are special; you are loved; you are important. Your parents and your school have been working together to ensure that you have a good transition to the new demands of K-12 education. If we, your parents and your school, have demanded much from you, it is only out of a desire to see you reach your full potential. Please have no doubt about it. You are loved. You are important. You are special.
Second, what are you to do with this love, freely offered to you by your families and your school?
Our readings today are about mercy. From the book of Daniel, we have Azariah’s plea for mercy, which is indicative of our human desire to be forgiven, to be looked upon kindly. In a kind of response to this all too human desire, the Gospel parable is about a kind king who initially wanted to punish a servant who could not pay back his debts, but then decided to be merciful and cancel the debt, all because the servant asked for it. That’s how it is in God’s kingdom.
This servant, forgiven all his debts, goes on and in turn encounters another servant who owed him money. You would think that he would be as kind and generous to the other servant, as the king was to him, but no, he treated the other servant very harshly. He choked him and demanded payment, and when the other servant could not pay and pleaded for mercy, this was denied and he was thrown into jail. The servant who had even forgiven much, could not forgive others. He who was shown much mercy, did not have mercy for others.
I think the lesson is clear for all of us. If we have been shown love, mercy, forgiveness, we are expected to do likewise with others. The key to the parable is really the choice made by the forgiven servant.
He was shown mercy, and yet he decided not to show mercy to others. He was happy to get relief for himself, but he would not do likewise for others. That is the choice he made.
What will your choice be? With the best self-knowledge you have thus far, you have made some big choices for Senior High School. What courses to take, what elective to choose which determines your strand, etc. These are not things you can easily change. These are decisions that will remain in force for the next two years, and will affect your university applications.
It is somewhat like Andrew Wiggin, aka Ender (film: Ender’s Game). In a futuristic film, where earth is preparing a counter-attack against an alien race called the Formics, gifted young people are selected and given special training for the future attack on the Formics. Since Ender was good at space combat in games, he was selected and given special advanced training in a variety of simulated situations. He even plays a computerized mind game on the side. His final test comes. Several fleet commanders monitor him. He thinks it is still a simulation, but finds out in the end that the whole encounter had been real. He was already successful in destroying part of the Formic homeworld. Struggling with his emotions, he sees a ray of hope in the other Formic worlds that he can still conquer.
Choices. Ender was selected because of his potential in space combat, but he had to make choices in the different tests he was subjected to. His skills were constantly honed until his superiors felt he was ready to do the real thing, and before he knew it, he was already doing something real—no longer the virtual games of his earlier experience, but the real thing.
You have been asked to make choices for Senior High School. With each day that comes, I pray that you continue to make good choices because what used to be done in the first years of college will now be done in Senior High School. This is the real thing. May the Holy Spirit with whom you were infused at Confirmation always keep you on the right path.