THE MOST HOLY BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST – YEAR B
Mass for the Graduates of St. Gregory the Great Catholic Academy
At this time of the year, colleges and universities vie with one another to engage the best known and most engaging speaker to deliver the Address to the Graduates at their Commencement Exercises. We here at St. Gregory the Great do not boast of being an Ivy League school, but we are a Catholic Academy. And so, thanks to our Catholic Lectionary, we have managed to engage not one, but three, of the most widely read authors in the world to speak to you at this Graduation Mass. They offer brief but powerful suggestions about how to continue your life’s journey.
You are passing through. That reminder comes from the author of the Letter to the Hebrews who speaks about Jesus’ passing through his Passion and death into the sanctuary of heaven. You always knew that you were only passing through St. Gregory the Great School; now you feel it powerfully as you are about to pass out of its doors holding your diplomas. You will pass through high school more quickly than you can imagine. Many of you will pass through higher education, pass into adulthood with its privileges and responsibilities. Do not ever decide to stop passing into a fuller and more fulfilling future, even when the going gets tough. Do not ever become complacent, settle down, and stagnate. Pass through the present to new challenges, new achievements, new sources of service and fulfillment.
You have been called. This again from the author of Hebrews. Each of you has received a call from God to accomplish some task with you life, to touch and mold other lives, to become the person you have eternally been in the eyes of God. We talked this spring about men and women, many of them young, who found themselves seized by grace, and who went on to accomplish amazing things: Billy Edington, Jr., Jacques Fesch, Therese of Lisieux, Dorothy Day, Frances Cabrini, Katherine Drexel, Damien de Veuster and Marianne Cope. Some of them heard their call at a very young age, some received it dramatically, others took time getting it into focus. But all of them answered it wholeheartedly and went on to accomplish amazing things. When you get the first inkling of your call, listen to the promptings of your heart.
Follow the right leaders. Jesus gave precise instructions to two disciples about how to find the right setting for the Last Supper. “Go into the city and a man will meet you, carrying a jar of water. Follow him.” The people we choose as role models have a profound impact on our lives. Remember that we talked about how graced people are charismatic personalities who attract others powerfully, such as Francis of Assisi and Katherine Drexel. Not all charismatic personalities will lead you along the right path. Be sure that the role model you choose is the real thing, the person carrying the jar filled, not with water, but with wisdom, compassion, sympathy, generosity, faith, hope and love.
Our third speaker, Moses, has been desperate to get his moment at the podium. So, we will give him the final word. We are all in this together, he tells us. No one of us is alone and isolated, without friend, collaborator, helper. “When Moses…related all the words and ordinances of the Lord, they all answered with one voice, ‘We will do everything that the Lord has told us.’” With one voice. Not individually, not one after another, randomly, not haphazardly; but with one voice. And then Moses knew that they were ready to enter into the Covenant that God was offering them, to become his people, called to accomplish his purposes, ultimately to give birth to his Son.
You are about to pass through your graduation. You will further discern your callings. You will face challenges – some of them daunting. You will look for suitable role models. But you are not alone. The genius and greatness of St. Gregory the Great Academy and Parish, the great contribution of all Catholic schools is the strength of the bonds that are created here – in the classroom and around the altar – bonds of enduring friendship. If you want to see that in action, just look around you when you visit the Festival later this month.
The Eucharist. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The living, holy Body and Blood of Christ that we celebrate on this beautiful feast day, ties all of these suggestions together. The Eucharist is the food of pilgrims designed to sustain us on life’s journey. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass reminds us again and again how Jesus answered the call to lay down his life for us, giving us an example and a role model to follow; and our annual passage through the liturgical year provides one role model after another for us to consider. If you pay attention to the lives of the saints, you will find engaging, delightful, inspiring role models.
Finally, the most holy Body and Blood of Christ that we receive here at the altar draws us into an ever more intimate union of love and friendship with the One God our Creator and Redeemer, with Jesus our brother and friend, and with one another.