The following homily was delivered by School President Fr. Aristotle C. Dy, SJ during the Missioning Mass for the Faculty and Staff last 26 May 2016.
Earlier this month we reflected on the mercy shown to us by God, and had an experience of sharing that mercy with others through various outreach activities. It was our way of observing the Jubilee Year of Mercy inspired by Pope Francis. Mercy received, mercy shared. I think this is also a way of viewing our work in education as we begin a new school year.
In the Gospel, the blind man Bartimaeus does not give up shouting out to Jesus, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me, a sinner.” It’s a very primal prayer, emanating from a desperate place. I want to see. I want to be free of this darkness. I don’t know how I ended up like this, but please have mercy. I am a sinner.
Personally, I often find myself at a loss for words when I am praying, and I just join Bartimaeus in crying out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
Jesus hears him. “What do you want me to do for you,” He asks. Mercy is granted, and the blind man sees! Jesus sends him off, saying that faith has saved him.
What right do we have to be educators? Are we not sinners? Are we not weak? How dare we strive to form the young?
But that’s precisely the point, isn’t it? We are altogether unworthy, but we have been called, you and I. We are here at this time because despite our weaknesses, despite our shortcomings, God has deemed that we still have something to share.
The first reading from St Peter includes those beautiful words– called out of darkness into his wonderful light. That, my friends, describes each one of us here. Degrees and skills we may have, but without a fundamental awareness that we have been called out of darkness, into the light, we cannot be the humble educators that we are called to be. Let our light shine, we say, but light makes sense only if one knows darkness.
Awareness. Mindfulness of our identity as educators. This is my invitation to you at this missioning Mass. One of our Six Cs is Conscience, which includes the idea that we must have a contemplative lifestyle, that we must cultivate the ability to see how God is working in the world and what our contribution to that is going to be. Pope Francis also talks about this too, and I quote from Laudato Si:
We are speaking of an attitude of the heart, one which approaches life with serene attentiveness, which is capable of being fully present to someone without thinking of what comes next, which accepts each moment as a gift from God to be lived to the full. Jesus taught us this attitude when he invited us to contemplate the lilies of the field and the birds of the air, or when seeing the rich young man and knowing his restlessness, ‘he looked at him with love’ (Mark 10:21). He was completely present to everyone and to everything, and in this way he showed us the way to overcome that unhealthy anxiety which makes us superficial, aggressive and compulsive consumers.”
There is no Magis, striving for excellence and the More that is required of us, without serene attentiveness. We cannot know what is for God’s greater glory, AMDG, if we are not mindful of our own motivations and able to purify our intentions. Through silence, through exercises that help us focus, we try to be present to the present. Have you ever heard the quite from Bil Keane that says, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is gift, and that is why it is called the present.”
There is no cura personalis, the personal care that we would like to extend to each other and specially to our students, if there is no mindfulness; no attention to the present needs of each person in front of us.
There is no finding God in all things, if we do not know how to reflect and discern God’s work in the world.
My friends, let us prepare to face students and parents by being aware of our center. We are sinners calling out to Jesus to help us see. He has called us out of darkness into his wonderful light, and made us living stones to build up the spiritual house of God. We have been shown mercy, and now we want to share that mercy with others. Let us let our light shine.