Fr. Bur presents the Man for Others
Award to Evan Mazmanian ’15
Welcome to Summer!
Homily from Ascension Thursday Mass, 5/29/14
Today we celebrate the risen Jesus’ final instructions to his disciples when he at last leaves them. The scriptures describe this leaving with physical detail about Jesus’ body lifting from this earth and ascending to the clouds of heaven. These words are an attempt to describe how Jesus’ friends feel. While they might completely understand that the union of jesus and his father in heaven must be complete, nevertheless, they are suddenly left on their own without their friend and his leadership.
We best celebrate the Ascension, this mystery of Jesus’ departure, as a going-away party. Imagine a friend going off to a distant college or a person you know going to live and work in a foreign country. A going away party even 150 years ago meant that the traveler might never again see the family and friends that were left behind. Then it was a permanent change; even now there is change and sometimes a departure means change even for those who stay behind.
So in the Ascension of Jesus the friends and disciples of Jesus are left on their own. They must change the way they do things; now, despite the work of the Spirit, each one must look into his own heart and discover his place in this new community without Jesus.
They had to face change. Facing change. Change is what I ask God to help you with today. After exams, and for the seniors, after Sunday’s graduation the school year comes to an end. My Prep brothers, just as the presence of Jesus kept the disciples focused and engaged, the routines of the Prep kept must of you focused and engaged during the school year. But now in the summer you change what time you get up in the morning. Maybe you have a job in some other space instead of coming into the Prep building. Maybe you are doing something entirely new that you never tried before. Maybe your parents give you some responsibilities for your home or for sisters and brothers. Maybe you have no responsibilities at all. But remember the one thing you learned the first day that you arrived at this school in freshmen year, the one thing that does not change: once you are a student at St. Josephs’ Prep, you never cease being a son of St. Joseph’s Prep, a brother to your classmates, a Prepper.
So yes, the friends of Jesus had to accept the reality of his absence and develop their own new patterns of leadership and preaching. But they knew that Jesus’ love for them endured no matter his absence. This led them to plumb new depths of courage, of loyalty and of integrity. So, too, you Preppers in this change into the summer, into another step up in class to be sophomores, juniors or seniors, and even into college, you are still a Prepper, you will always be one. Never doubt God’s love for you, a love that leads you to find whatever measure you need of courage, loyalty and integrity. God cares about you in the summer as God does in all seasons. So do we. We hope that no matter where you are and what you face you will remember who you are and proudly stand as men for and with others. Some suggestions for the summer:
- Take some time to sit in conversation with your grandparents or others from their generation. Find about their lives and their dreams.
- Get some exercise biking with friends along the river or running with some buddies or hiking on some new trail that you never saw before.
- Go out at night in a place away from city lights so that you can see the summer sky and find out that Orion and Cygnus are still up there.
- In this Universe God has a place for you, without you that place remains empty, with you God’s desires are fulfilled, you a Prepper and a man for others.
Rev. George W. Bur, S.J. ’59
President, St. Joseph’s Prep
To read more from Fr. Bur, go to his blog here.