Homily of Rev. Jude DeAngelo, O.F.M. Conv., University Chaplain and Director of Campus Ministry
Upper Church, Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
May 12, 2017
In October 2018, the bishops of the world will join Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, for the Synod called: “Young People, the Faith and Vocation Discernment.” In other words, it is a gathering to discuss you, and your experience of the Faith and your relationship with Jesus Christ. In the letter calling for the synod, Pope Francis – like today’s reading from Acts of the Apostles – references, Abraham, our father in Faith. Francis talks about the courage and faith that Abraham demonstrated by leaving his comfortable homeland in answer to God’s command to go from all that he knew and all that defined his life. Abraham sets out on a journey to an unknown land that God promised to him and his descendants.
My brothers and sisters you are “the children of the family of Abraham.” You are born out of the normal course, adopted through faith in Jesus. Now, you are setting out for the new land of your future. Each of you is called by God to enter into the unknown land of new life with the Faith provided by God – a new life filled with adventure, success, disappointment and joy-filled moments.
You are leaving behind your homeland – The Catholic University of America – an institution of intellectual challenge. This homeland has also been a place of nurturing comfort and care for you. A place where administrators, faculty and staff have prepared you to set out on the way to your future. In addition, now it is time for you to leave us not with fear but in faith that God goes with you. Your presence here today indicates that you have prepared wisely for your future. You have taken advantage of all that Catholic University has to offer, the FYE program, the classes in your major, the research opportunities, and the internships. And, it is our hope that you leave here as women and men of faith motivated to bring the light of Christ to others.
You will shape the world around you and you will be shaped by that world. Be mindful that not all that the future offers you will be easy for you. You will need to establish a new support system of friends who encourages your continued growth in Christ. You will need to find a parish that feeds your hunger for Christ. You must seek out opportunities to serve the Lord in the poor and people living on the margins of society. In other words, you will need continued help in being a disciple of Jesus Christ.
Some people and events in your future may tempt you to be selfish and self-centered. It is easy to fall by the wayside if you seek the easy road of entitlement and privilege. Do not entertain the great lie of the modern age that at the core of your being you are alone and unconnected to God and each other. Do not believe for one moment that you are a person of privilege for you indeed are a son or daughter of God and a brother or sister to each other in Christ. You are a disciple of Jesus who must die to selfishness and sin and rise to charity and justice. If you surrender to the lie of isolation, it will lead to desolation and despair. To live in selfish isolation is to deny everything that this University and indeed our very Faith has handed on to you.
Turn away from the messages that foster fear of others. Counter the voices that incite hatred, prejudice and violence with the wisdom, peace and truth of the Gospel. Do not listen to the tweets and the twitters of chained birds bound by the shackles of power and domination; rather, seek the inspiration of the Holy Spirit who took the form of a dove – humble and free. God’s message is fired in the kiln of self-sacrifice and it is given freely to those who are open to the challenge of discipleship.
My dear brothers and sisters, when others around you are overcome by the cares of this world, it will be up to you to invite them to know the freedom that only Jesus can give in the heart of the Church. It will be up to you to point out the Lamb of God as the way to justice and peace, as the truth of God’s immense love and mercy and as the life that gives every human being incomparable dignity and worth.
Let not your hearts be troubled as you enter your future my friends for Jesus goes with you. He is the way that leads you to real joy. He is the truth and source of your love. He is the very substance of your life. In Christ there is no room for fear because He has subjected all sin and evil by His death and resurrection. As His disciple you too share in His mission of conquering the darkness of fear and isolation by a life poured out in loving service of others.
Moreover, as you follow His way in this world know that he is preparing an eternal dwelling for you. The Lord Jesus has prepared this eternal dwelling for you by His Life, Death and Resurrection. You too will find the way to eternal life with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit if you live your life in the truth of Jesus Christ.
As we continue to celebrate this Sacrifice – His sacrifice – let us pray for the courage to walk in the footsteps of the Savior. Let our future endeavors and plans, our hopes and dreams, our decisions and desires be tempered and shaped not by the course of a changing world but in the unchangeable and eternal mind of Christ – the way, the truth and the life.