Ignatius — a man for others and a good friend

The following homily was delivered last 30 July 2015 by Fr. Gilbert Emmanuel Levosada, SJ, Chaplain of the Ateneo de Manila Grade School, during the Grade School Mass in celebration of the Feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola

My dear students and teachers of Xavier school, today we celebrate the feast of the founder of the Society of Jesus or Jesuits, St Ignatius of Loyola. I belong to the order of Jesuits, just like Fathers Ari Dy, Xavier Olin, Munching de Guzman, Art Borja and other priests in Xavier School.  We owe him our priestly vocation. You can say that we are “Sons of Ignatius” and you dear students of a Jesuit school can be considered “Grandsons of Ignatius”.

By now, many of you are quite familiar with his life story. The first image that people remember of St Ignatius was that he was a soldier. In the famous battle of Pamplona, Ignatius got hit, not by a wrecking ball, but by a cannonball. This event turned his life 180 degrees. Others, remember him as a pilgrim — a man clothed in simple attire, always walking not only to “find God in all things” but on how to give him “greater glory” or AMDG.

But one image that people tend to forget about our dear St Iggy is that he was a good friend and schoolmate. He met his best friends, or BFFs or Besties, in school. I am sure you know who this person is…. he is St Francis Xavier. They met in the University of Paris. Francis, then, was ambitious and proud. We can say Xavier was one of the “cool” kids in school so much different from the older and more mature Ignatius. Ignatius was also not a “cool kid” because he was one of the older classmates, very studious and had a limp. Soon enough, Ignatius and Francis became best friends. With patience and understanding, Ignatious mentored and guided Francis. He won him over to his cause, which is “to help souls.” Later on, they met another student, Peter Fabre, and they too became friends, shared the same passion and values. The trio grew to seven, all with the intention of serving God. So they decided to form a group – they didn’t call themselves Students with Awesome Grades or SWAG, not One Direction, nor the Super Friends, nor did they call themselves the Avengers. They were not only friends but friends who and wanted to serve Jesus. Thus they named themselves,  Friends in the Lord, la Campania de Hesus, or the Society of Jesus.

From Rome, these Friends in the Lord were sent all over the world – Africa, America, and Asia. Jesuits arrived in the Philippines and spread the faith and established schools and Xavier school was one of them. This school and all of you are fruits of the friendship between Ignatius and Xavier. Fruits from Friendships. Isn’t that awesome!

I remember when I was young like you (Grade 3-4), one day after eating lunch, my best friend, Joey,  asked if I wanted to go to the chapel and hear mass. Because it was an airconditioned room, I said, “Sure!” So every day, after lunch, we would go to the chapel and attend mass. Later on, even if it wasn’t lunch time, we would find ourselves going to the chapel and praying. Years later, I realized that because of my best friend, Joey, I learned to love the mass and pray often. Hey! Isn’t he like an Ignatius to Francis. He was a good friend like Ignatius because he was a positive influence to me and he brought me closer to God.

How about you? Are you a good friend like St Ignatius? Have you met a friend like St Ignatius in your life? A friend who is a positive influence, who shows us kindness and brings us closer to God? Or are we like Ignatius to our classmates, brothers, and sisters? Are we encouraging, helpful especially when others are in need?  Are we respectful?  If we are a friend like Ignatius, we are like what the Gospel reading describes: “a pearl of great price, a treasure discovered in a field.”

My dear Xaverians, I hope and pray that you may discover a friend/or many friends like Ignatius in your stay in this school.  A friends who helps us become a good person and leads us closer to God. I pray that we too may become like Ignatius, a not only a man for others but a very caring and kind friend. Amen.

Happy Fiesta to All!

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