There are No Victories at Bargain Prices

The following homily was delivered by Fr. Munching De Guzman, SJ last 24 September 2015 during the Grade School Mass in honor of San Lorenzo Ruiz during Appreciation Day.

What is 375,000 miles long, circles the earth 15 times, and grows twenty miles longer each day?

The answer: the line of people who know the definition of love but are very indifferent and uncaring; they can define forgiveness but they keep on beating themselves with the pain which others caused. This is the line of people who can excellently define generosity but are greedy; they can inspiringly talk about humility but are too proud and arrogant; they can intelligently define honesty but they keep on cheating. In other words, this is the line of people who do not practice what they know.

Why? Because they don’t want the inconvenience of having to carry the burden of loving, forgiving, and giving.  They cannot do what Jesus declared — “Whoever wishes to be my follower, must deny his very self, take up his cross each day, and follow me.

We must be – not only hearers and knowers of the Word of God, but doers of it as well – – –  yes, it is more inspiring to be loving and caring than it is to simply know the definition of love – for when we do, God succeeds.

Some years ago, a young man applied to teach religion in a Catholic high school in India. When the principal asked him if he were a practising Catholic, he replied:

“No, I am a Hindu; but I know Catholic teaching very well, I went to Catholic schools all my life. I’d be happy to take a test to prove my ability to teach religion.”

The principal explained to the young man that the heart of Catholicism is not in knowing Catholic teaching but in living a faith-filled, Catholic life.

God put us on earth – God put you in school – to accomplish a certain number of things in the future. And today is the future we prepared for yesterday.  Right now we are so far behind. Our knowledge needs to be translated into action; values into practice; our faith into life; promises yet to be fulfilled; rules yet to be faithfully followed…We still have a long way to go as far as living out the Father’s will for us goes. Perhaps we are better or aren’t better now, but it depends on how we have been responding to God’s invitation to deny our self, take up the cross each day and follow him.

Our first reading today talks about victory. And I tell you, there are no victories at bargain prices. Remember Lorenzo Ruiz (his story was just read to you at the beginning of this mass). Lorenzo loved God. He spoke about his love for God in these words, “I am a Christian, and I shall die for God, and if I have a thousand lives, I will offer them all to God.” And with that, Lorenzo was martyred and became the first Filipino saint.

There are no victories at bargain prices. Look at your teachers whom we honor today. Teaching may not always bring them happiness, but it will give you, our dear students, what you need. So if you sincerely mean to honor your teachers, then do what pleases their hearts: — you should never attach yourselves to anything that does not cost you care, longing and labor…So each day, do more than belong – participate. Do more than care – help. Do more than know – practice. Do more than pray – work. Beginning now, say to yourself  “I’m going to take a totally different path. I’m going to pray and work and carry loads instead and not have others carry me like people do to the dead.” The best appreciation is to let your teachers see in all things you do that there are indeed no victories at bargain prices.

My dear friends, the most miserable person in the world is the one who cannot find meaning in carrying a heavy load. I guess this is why we are losing our lives because we are busy saving it.

Jesus said, “Whoever wishes to be my follower must deny his very self, take up his cross each day, and follow me.” It is by our very action that Christ recognizes us as His own and not just simply by our feelings of love for Him.  Amen.

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