Ursuline Academy’s Baccalaureate Homily for the Class of 2014
Jesus said to his disciples: “You are the salt of the earth.”
In his Confessions, St. Augustine wrote about an experience he had while attending a function honoring the emperor. As each guest got up and said a few words of praise, he understood the foolishness of the event. Everyone knew that everyone was lying: the guests knew the speakers were lying. The speakers knew they were lying. Even the emperor himself knew they were all lying.
Well what I am about to say to you is no lie. Only once a year do I find myself surrounded by such great elegance and intelligence, and it is right here, right now and on this very special occasion.
You are the best of the best, but only if you allow yourself to be the salt of the earth.
Difference Maker. Our Lord is a romantic and a poet. He said so much in so few words. “You are the salt of the earth” means “You are a difference maker”, which means Christians make life surprising, enjoyable, exciting, thrilling, challenging, tangy, etc…
Of course we all know that Jesus is the true “salt of the earth,” that He took our lives and added a little bit of himself to it, not to smother us or overwhelm us, but to enhance us. He added just the right amount of himself to us and in all the right places – not on our wounds, but in all our thoughts, words and actions.
Now the Lord is telling His disciples: “You are the salt of the earth.”
You are the salt of the earth. My dear graduates: You are the salt of the earth. You are the difference maker. And today – especially today – to be a difference maker means to show honest-to-God gratitude. Please show your gratitude to the people who have done so much for you. Dear Class of 2014, please stand up right now and add some of your salt to those around you. Give a round of applause to your loved ones!
Do you know what you just did? You added flavor to their lives. You made their life worth living and their blood, sweat and tears worth shedding. You put a smile on their faces. You just changed their appearance.
Do you realize the power of gratitude? How it can bring people back to life? There is nothing more thrilling or exciting than someone coming up to you and saying: “I can’t tell you enough how important you are in my life” or “I can’t thank you enough for all that you have done for me. You’ve made a huge difference in my life” or “I just want you to know that everything I am is because of you.”
Gratitude is the salt that brings out the best in us and in others.
You’re family deserves a round of applause and so much more. It’s about time. For the past twelve years it’s been all about you, and for the past four years they have put up with all your phobias (I will never be great in anything!), dramas (I just made the biggest mistake in my life!), meltdowns (My life is ruined!), arrogance (You don’t know anything!), threats (I’ll never call you when I’m in College!) and sassy attitudes (When I am rich and famous, you’ll wish you encouraged me!).
Now there is a lot that can be said about grateful people. By default they are humble and honest. Through reflection they are understanding and responsible. They know who they are and what they have received, and they don’t take it for granted.
This year, the Class of 2014 received over 25 million dollars in scholarships! Do you know how many poor people could have been fed with this money? A lot! But instead, people were willing to give it to you. Why? Because they trust you. They have hope in the future because of you. Don’t let them down.
Which brings me to my next point.
Salt Serves. Just like a number, graduation is meaningless unless it is attached to something. For example, the number “1” means nothing unless it refers to something, like “First Place” or “Lone Survivor.” Likewise, the number “3” means nothing unless it is attached to something, like “Third Place” or “Holy Trinity.”
Again, just like salt, graduation is useless unless it is attached to something. Salt is used over food. If not, then it simply collects moisture. The same holds true of graduation. It must be attached to something, and that something is SERVICE.
Graduation without service would be like graduating with no education: a disappointment and totally useless.
As you are well aware from the scholarships collected this year, people and institutions are more than willing to give you everything they have. Don’t let them down. Serve. Serve others.
Service is the secret to health, happiness and holiness – a healthy mind, a happy state of being, a holy life.
Now attach yourself to a worthy cause, a cause that Christ would choose for you!
This is the year of the woman! Can’t you tell? I don’t know about you, but I read a lot of articles regarding women this year.
Not too long ago, I read a story about Deborah Peter’s, a brave 15-year-old young lady from Chibok, Nigeria, who witnessed the killing of her father and brother at the hands of the Islamic inspired terrorist organization “Boko Haram,” which translated means “Western education is sinful.”
On May 21st, she testified before a special House committee and told them why she was in Washington. She said, “I want the world to understand what happened to me. I hope the kidnapped Chibok girls will take courage from my story, and know more of what God says, and know what it means to stand strong in the face of bad people.”
Graduation is the fruit of education and the commitment to service.
Congratulations to the outstanding Class of 2014. May God bless you now and forever. May He continue to inspire you in all your thoughts, words and actions. Count on our prayers. Please pray for us. Stay attached to the Lord. Do not forget the Lord, for He never forgets us. (0)