Homily by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II Baccalaureate Mass, Basic Education Department Our Lady of Fatima University, 16 June 2021
Congratulations! Today, everyone deserves a warm round of applause, a pat on the shoulder and perhaps, a little treat after our Mass for making it through the Academic Year of the pandemic, 2020-2021.
Most likely while you were chilln’ after your final exams last Wednesday evening, you have seen and heard this great woman of America’s Got Talent, Nightbirde who mesmerized us not only with her voice but most of all with her infectious joy and presence on the stage.
Her words last week are the most quoted in social media even in our Masses last Sunday: “You can’t wait until life isn’t hard anymore before you decide to be happy.”
She connected so well with us because there is a little Nightbirde in each one of us when we look back to this past academic year when the pandemic happened before we ended classes last year and did not have any Baccalaureate Mass in our University.
Despite the uncertainties and fears and apprehensions due to COVID-19 , we decided to be happy.
We did not wait “until life isn’t hard anymore” to go back to school despite the enormous challenges and adjustments we all have to go through: parents, teachers and faculty, University admin, and most especially you, our dear students.
And if there is one most important lesson we have learned in this past academic year of the pandemic, it is GOD.
Like Nightbirde, we have realized how God never abandoned us, always with us, loving us, silently working for us even with just 2% chance of surviving cancer or COVID or passing an exam.
St. Paul said it so well in our first reading:
Moreover, God is able to make every grace abundant for you, so that in all things, always having all you need, you may have an abundance for every good work. You are being enriched in every way for all generosity, which through us produces thanksgiving to God.2 Corinthians 9:8, 11
The Lord never failed in providing us with all that we need, even during this pandemic.
Let us be open to more of his grace by trusting him more, and sharing his blessings with others.
Dare to “rise to the top” amid the pandemic and other challenges in life!
We did not wait "until life isn't hard anymore" to go back to school despite the enormous challenges and adjustments we all have to go through: parents, teachers and faculty, University admin, and most especially you, our dear students.
God never abandoned us this year. We are still alive and we are now moving up, advancing in our pursuit for education. Some of us may have lost a loved one, others were left behind due to many reasons but we celebrate today our achievements made possible by God.
He is the most important lesson we have learned this year of COVID-19: only God suffices. Without God, we are nothing.
What would our lives be today if we all waited last year for the pandemic to be over to resume classes?
And the good news is, God is assuring us today in this Baccalaureate Mass that he shall be blessing you more this coming academic year 2021-2022.
There will surely be a lot of challenges awaiting us, even more difficult but rest assured that if you were able to complete your Prep or Kindergarten, Elementary or Junior High and Senior High stage, there is nothing you cannot do now!
Lahat kakayanin ninyo huwag lang kayong bibitiw sa Diyos!
God has beautiful plans for you despite this pandemic. Persevere and remain in him.
Study hard, work harder, pray hardest!
I have one assignment to give you my dear students as you go on your academic break this June: continue studying, continue praying.
Try to get a copy of a book called “Imitatio Christi” or the Imitation of Christ written around the years 1418-1427 by the German-Dutch monk named Thomas á Kempis.
Don’t worry… it is available in the internet and it is an excellent devotional book. You won’t regret reading it. In fact, next to the Bible, the Imitatio Christi is the other leading devotional book in Christianity.
His reflections are very timely and relevant especially in this time of COVID when he said that what matters most is that we love the Giver – God – and not the gift because God is the source of all good things in life.
A wise lover values not so much the gift of the lover, as the love of the giver. He esteems the affection above the gift, and values every gift far below the Beloved. A noble lover is not content with a gift, but desires Myself above all gifts.Imitation of Christ, Book III, Part VI, “Of the proving of the true lover” by Thomas á Kempis (d. 1471)
Study hard, work harder, pray hardest!
Do not forget amid the many gifts we have received this year of pandemic is the giver of these gifts, God.
When you have God, you have everything. And you can do everything.
Fall in love with God.
So many times in our lives especially when we are still young and strong, we forget God, wasting our lives and precious time with less important things.
We do not realize that God alone is the one whom we must always seek and have in life because he alone loves us truly to whom alone we must always turn to.
To fall in love with God is to cultivate a prayer life, to be a man or woman of prayer.
When you love somebody, you always talk to that person.
If you love God, then you will always pray.
God loves you very much. He believes in you. He knows what you need even before you ask him.
What we do not know is what God wants from us. That is why we have to pray in order to learn what are the plans of God for us this coming academic year 2021-2022.
“When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. When you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. Your Father who sees in secret will repay you.”Matthew 6:5-6
God is the best and most loving teacher of all. His lessons are always practical and personal. That is the meaning of “entering your inner room” – go into your heart and there you shall meet God, always waiting for you, eager to listen to you and speak to you about his love and plans for you.
He only has one lesson plan: love, love, love.
See how during the pandemic even the most powerful nations were crippled by COVID-19. Even until now these vaccines we have are not an assurance of being safe from the virus. We do not even know its other side effects.
We still have to hurdle so many problems this year.
Problem is we refuse to see that this pandemic is also spiritual in nature, not just medical and social.
Let us learn our lesson very well – God.
And so, I ask you again, my dear students to work hard, study harder and pray hardest this coming Academic Year 2021-2022 to achieve your dreams and realize God’s great plans for you in the future, now. Amen.
God bless you all!