What is Truth? — High School Thanksgiving Mass Homily

Featured Photo by Mr. Geoffrey Mercado, HS CLE teacher; XS ’15 photo from Ms. Chaveli Ventosa, HS Prefect of Discipline; other images gathered from the web

The following homily was delivered by School President, Fr. Aristotle Dy, S.J., during the High 4 Thanksgiving Mass last 20 March 2015 at the Multi-Purpose Center of Xavier School.

What is truth? This is a question we all face, and not only in Theory of Knowledge class. Pilate asked the question when Jesus was brought before him. The wise men and women of history have struggled with this question ever since.

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You will always remember your senior year in high school, and not only for all the usual reasons. Throughout the school year, you have been savoring the “last” of every special school experience—events like A-Day, Christmas, and the School Fair; your SM immersion, XCE, retreats, and most of all, your experiences with your friends, probably your best friends for life, as many of us who are older Xaverians can attest.

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These are all ordinary experiences in the life of a high school Senior, but this school year, it has not been business as usual for any of us. It is true that there are innovative experiences at Xavier that you will not find elsewhere, but your final year here has included extraordinary experiences in the life of the community. We have all been confronted with the fragility of life; the reality of suffering, especially mental suffering that can have dire consequences; and the lifelong effects of seemingly random events.

What is the truth behind all these events in our life as a school?

Two among you lost a parent to death in the last few months. What is the truth about life and death?

What is the truth about the world we are sending you into? What will your college education do for you, and what will your life be about?

We struggle for answers. Sometimes we need to make decisions before we are ready to do so. Such is life.

Sometimes we can all look at the same thing, but interpret it in different ways. I was told that one of the stories you took up this year is Akutagawa Ryunosuke’s “In a Grove”, the story on which Akiro Kurosawa based his classic film Rashomon. The story involves a murder in the forest. A corpse has been found. A woodcutter, a Buddhist monk, and an ex-convict all witness the event but their accounts contradict each other.

In a Grove

It is quite unlike Ms. Ventosa’s work of making students write incident reports so that the school can determine what really happened by piecing the accounts together. In the Japanese story, the details don’t add up, leaving the reader to wonder if objective truth is really possible.

In today’s Gospel passage, the inhabitants of Jerusalem wonder who Jesus really is—why the authorities are trying to kill him and yet do not react when they see Jesus openly preaching. Perhaps he is really the Christ, they say. Jesus seems to get exasperated and tells them that yes, they know where he is from, but they do not know the one who sent him. “The one who sent me, whom you do not know, is true,” Jesus says.

At this point in your lives, we have no easy answers to offer you about your search for truth. We can only affirm that there is Truth. There is Goodness. There is Beauty in this world, and wherever we find truth, goodness, and beauty, God is there.

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Saint Ignatius, in his Principle and Foundation, condenses it for us when he says that we are created to love God, and therefore to love the Truth. All the things we find at our disposal on this earth are meant to help us in that journey towards the Truth. In all the choices we make, we must choose whatever deepens the Truth of God in our selves.

Go, therefore, and search for the Truth. At Xavier we have tried to show you that Truth can be found in God, but it doesn’t mean having black and white answers to the essential questions of life. It means only that there is an energy of Love and Mercy that we receive from God, that we experience it in the love and mercy of people for us specially our families, and that we are called to share this energy of Love with others.

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As you go to college, keep seeking the Truth—about yourselves, about the world, about your place in this world, about the needs of our country and our people, and what you can do about it. And as our school song says, make your light brightly shine till the journey’s end. Luceat Lux!

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