Homily by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Baccalaureate Mass, 04 July 2022 Grade Six and Grade Ten, Our Lady of Fatima University in Valenzuela City, Fairview, Quezon City and San Fernando, Pampanga
Congratulations, our dear graduates in Grade Six and also to our “completers” of Grade Ten! As you “move up” to Junior and Senior High School, please consider these five things I strongly recommend you must always have in your pocket or purse as you pursue your dreams in life.
These are the fruits of my own journey from elementary school to college and professional life and later, as a priest in the past 24 years. I have shared these with my former students in Malolos and later when some of them got married and asked me to officiate their wedding, I have used this again as my homily.
First thing you must always have is a handkerchief.
If you are a man, make it white. And better, make it two – one for wiping your face and the other for sneezing. Or, who knows, someone might need a handkerchief in an emergency; it is good to always have an extra one like in my experience here at the National Shrine last week when I officiated a wedding.
Forgive me, my dear students and parents and faculty members: I was aghast – shocked and so kadiri to see the groom crying and sniffing as he pressed his nose and rubbed his eyes with his fingers when he saw his bride walking down the aisle because he did not have a handkerchief! I hope the video editor had edited that part of his wedding. It was good that his best man had some paper napkins and gave it to him.
It was exactly what my father used to tell me in elementary school to always have a handkerchief to wipe dirt off my face, adding that “baka mamya mabahing ka at sumambulat mga sipon mo tapos ni wala kang panyo, nakakahiya ka.”
Very true! It is part of good hygiene. And remember that saying we learned in Grade One, “Cleanliness is next to godliness”. And that is the deeper meaning of having handkerchief always: for us to stay clean. Be faithful to God who gave us his Son Jesus Christ to wipe away and cleanse us of our sins. That is the message of the prophet Hosea in our first reading today: be faithful to God. Remain clean before the Lord.
Second thing you must have in your pocket or purse for ladies is money. Never leave home without some money, at least a hundred pesos in case of an emergency.
My mother used to tell me whenever I would go out with my classmates on weekends to watch a movie or visit friends to always have some extra money, saying “baka makatisod ka ng isang tumpok na kamatis wala kang ibayad sa tindera”.
I’m sure you do not understand what I am speaking of: before the coming of supermarkets, during our time, vendors would sell their goods on sidewalks like tomatoes and calamansi that are always grouped together (that is, tumpok). There were no weighing scale then. If you are careless in walking, you might step on the tomatoes and surely, you will be charged to pay for it.
You are so lucky these days, children. During our time, we only have either baon like sandwich that was actually a pan de sal with Cheez Wiz or money; today, you both have baon and money!
And I won’t be surprised at all that some of you might have G-Cash too! My point is, have some money for emergencies. Learn to budget. Never spend beyond your means. And, be generous to those in need. Remember, money is important in life but not the most essential; learn how to manage your wealth at a young age.
Third, always have a pen or a ballpen. I was a reporter before but after I have resigned and went to the seminary to become a priest, I have realized the importance of having a pen like when you witness a hit and run accident: you can always write down on your palm the plate number of the vehicle in the accident.
In this time of the pandemic, it is very important to have your own pen than borrow or use those pens laden with virus and bacteria in filling up forms to enter an establishment.
It is sad that in this age of computers that had gone paperless, your generation is missing a great deal about life itself in the art of writing. Look at the penmanships of your elders, how legible their writings are unlike us today who are more used to pounding keys than “romancing” the paper with pen.
My lesson for you my dear students is that like the pen, always leave a mark. And the mark you must always leave is the mark of Jesus Christ. The marks of kindness and respect, of love and generosity. What marks are you leaving behind at our Basic Education Department?
Fourth, always have a comb. I am sure the ladies among you always have brush or even a blower or hair dryer in your bag! A comb is our best weapon for looking good even on “bad hair days” so to speak.
But please, do not comb your hair in public. Go to the washroom to fix your hair. It is not vanity. It is good grooming, having proper decorum before other people. You might say what is essential is invisible to the eye, of what is inside us; yes, that is true. But keep in mind that what others see in us outside, in our appearance is an indication of what is inside us. If you look good, most likely, you must be a good person because you give importance to others you meet by looking good!
Last but not least you must have in your pocket or purse is a Rosary. It is not an anting-anting meant to keep you safe from all harm. It is to remind you to always pray, to never forget God and our Lady of Fatima, our Patroness.
I know some of you are not Catholics but my message is simple: never forget God. Handle life with prayer. As you advance in your studies, there will be more trials and hardships coming your way. But Jesus is with you, will help you in everything. So, hold on to him. Imitate Mary his Mother, our Lady of Fatima in being a faithful disciple of Jesus by remaining at his side at the Cross. Always begin and end the day with prayer.
In our gospel today, Jesus brought back to life a dead young girl who was about 12 years old, the daughter of a synagogue official. Just like some of you today.
See how Jesus held her hand and raised her up. Notice also how Jesus turned his face toward that old woman who touched his garment along the way to be healed of her sickness? That is how Jesus Christ would always want to relate with us, with you especially, young people: always touching us, calling us by our name, speaking to us. But, do we listen to him?
Since I came here last year, I have been telling our students to study hard, work harder and pray hardest. To you, I say the same. And add these five things you must have in your pocket or purse. Hope to see you again in August as you rise to the top! God bless you all!