Fr. Ron Sibugan delivered the homily at the Class of 2016’s Baccalaureate Mass. The full text is below:
As I was doing this homily, one thing that really struck me — as I looked back on my own college life — is that this is truly an adventure. It asks you to jump in and be ready to face the discovery of yourself in relation to others and to God, to seek the truth, gain knowledge and wisdom while embarking on the most scary, fun and greatest moment of your life. Who would not forget about spending many hours in the library and asking how this algebra or calculus class has to do with my career in the future or attempting to make sense of your philosophy or theology courses? The college life that you were so scared of because you thought this would be an easy class and it ended up the toughest class. Who would not be scared to go to class when you know you did not do your homework and so you hoped your professors would not call on you?
It is an adventure because you had so much fun during weekends. You hung out with friends, roommates, and teammates, and you watched Super Bowl XLIX, which featured Tom Brady’s memorable fourth-quarter performance and Malcolm Butler’s goal-line interception. Then we know there was that whole Deflategate debacle, which led the news cycle for months and is ongoing even now. Who would not forget about the fun moments of falling in line for three hours just to get free t-shirts for Midnight Breakfast, while the administrators and faculties wore their elf hats? The Duck Day where everyone was cheering the return of the ducks.
Your other adventures included going on SEND trips; community service; participating in the SOPHIA program; attending candlelight prayer; having deep conversations with your friends, professors, friends, staff; by going on retreats or attending Agape Latte.
But life will always have difficulties. We were all shocked when the Boston Bombing happened; the shooting in Connecticut; the attacks in Syria, Paris, Brussels, Pakistan and Middle East; the natural disasters that hit our countries — Philippines, Fiji. And the Assumption College community was affected by the deaths of the beloved Colleen Ritzer, Erin Rodriques, the husband of Janet Lambert, Father Machozi, and the sickness of some of our loved ones, and friends.
All of these were part of your adventures at the college. But today’s readings remind us the greatest adventure of all is walking in the path of love and knowledge. We are asked to become vehicles through which we can experience and participate in the love of God. Participating in this love is an adventure that gives meaning to our journey. It helps us to conquer our fears; it gives meaning to the fun moments in our lives and transforms our difficulties and trials.
That is also what the Gospel reading is all about. We have been invited to participate in the greatest adventure of all: Jesus’s love for his disciples and his people. The source of this love is the relationship he has with the God the Father. This love becomes the source of his joy, the commitment to face the scary part of his journey, especially the moment that he knows his time is coming. Through this love he is enable to face trials and suffering. Through this love and the knowledge that binds him and his father he can conquer death, even death on the cross. Through this love he transform sufferings, difficulties, and trials.
The life of Jesus is amazing adventure of love. We all know Jesus had many great and interesting adventures in his life. Jesus also knew how to enjoy life by having meals with his family, his friends and followers. He loved to get together with them by sharing a meal together — having bread, fish, and wine. The Gospel we just heard today shows us The Last Supper. It is an opportunity for Jesus to enjoy his company with his disciples for the last time and an occasion to say goodbye. Jesus knows his hour is approaching, the time for him to leave his friends, family, and disciples. His desire is neither to abandon them nor to orphan them, but to enjoy their fellowship forever. And Jesus wanted them to be reminded of everything he taught them, reminded of everything he told them, and reminded of everything they had experienced about Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. He wanted them to not forget him. But could the disciples remember all this? It is very simple: love one another as I have loved you. This is the new commandment Jesus tells his disciples. This commandment is truly manifested in Jesus’s whole life, not only through his words but also through his actions. This commandment truly manifested itself in his whole life.
Jesus wanted them to embark on the adventure of walking on the path that he had taught his disciples. He emphasized that following him will allow us to share the love between him and his heavenly father. As Jesus said, “As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love”. Jesus assured his disciples he will remain with them through their love for each other and the source of their true joy. We too are invited to embark in the love of God the Father and the Son. The Father and the Son that continually offer us joy. This is makes sense to us. As Saint Augustine says, “To fall in love with God is the greatest of romances, to seek him the greatest adventure, to find him the greatest human achievement.” (St. Augustine)
I want you take this opportunity to look around just for a moment. These are the people who journeyed with you during your adventures here at Assumption College. They have been with you during your pursuit of the life of wisdom, knowledge, and truth. They have been with you when you had to face the scary part about college: realizing that a decision you made at 18 could impact the rest of your life. Choosing a major, what school to go to, what sports to play, who to hang out with. All of these are big decisions to make at such a young age and that’s scary. Remember your parents were also scared, especially when they had to pay for your tuition fee and some of your expenses at the college. They have been with you when you had to face the challenges, trials, and disappointments. They have been with you during your accomplishments.
My friends: remember they are the manifestations of the love of God for all of you, and because of them you are able to be here tonight and will able to walk on the stage. You truly are blessings to all of us, especially to your loved ones. We are so proud of you.
As you leave Assumption College, you will face new adventures and be asked to jump into the unknown — and feet first. Yes, there will be no more first-year orientations, no more move-in day Masses, no more meal plans. But do not be fearful and weary, as the second reading has asked all of you. You have been given wisdom, knowledge, and concrete love. Jesus has shown it to all of you. May you continue to be reminded of this wherever you go. May you continue to grow in knowledge and wisdom and at the same time grow in the love that Jesus has taught you. Be thoughtful citizens and serve with compassion. Be the light for others. With the love of Jesus and the knowledge you have, may you face the new adventures of life.