It’s graduation time! Many of us have friends and family members who graduated lately. Whatever the level in school, it is a time to be cheerful, a time for thanksgiving, a time to thank the Lord for all the blessings, graces and answered prayers. After many years of study and hardship, the graduates are now ready to fly out into the world, to face real life challenges and situations. After a licensure exam for some courses, they eagerly await to be confronted with complex situations awaiting their solutions and expertise. They will need all the learnings they have gained, while they also need to take time to listen to mentors who have the competencies and deep experiences awaiting to be tapped and consulted.
Aside from the practical side, it is also an opportune time for young people to be reminded to include planning the spiritual aspects of life. This planning phase is crucial, because one must remember to include selecting a journey that includes Jesus as well. We have to discern what our mission in life is. With Jesus as our guide, we will not fail. We can only promise to try our best every time, all the time. Let us remember that “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the decision of the Lord that endures.” (Prv. 19:21). Let us be consoled in what the Psalmist said, “Happy the man who follows not the counsel of the wicked… but delights in the way of the Lord… He is like a tree near running water, that yields its fruit in due season, and whose leaves never fade (whatever he does, prospers.) (Ps. 1: 1ff).
On a similar note, just like the graduates who prepare to immerse with real-life situations, Catholics are also reminded of our role in this Year of Faith. To put this in perspective, in 2021, we will be celebrating the 500th year of Christianity in the Philippines. The Church, through the CBCP, has called out nine years of intensive preparation, starting in 2013 as the Year of Faith, and this year 2014, as the Year of the Laity, with the theme: “The Filipino Catholic Laity: Called to be Saints…Sent forth as Heroes!” It therefore primes us, the Laity, to ask ourselves, how and what can we contribute to making these preparations, relevant in the light of Christ call for us to make fishers of men. Who is the laity? According to Vatican II, the laity is the person, baptized. “To be lay is a calling and we have to respond to that calling. Just like the religious, who felt God’s call, they responded to it. Priests are called to be priests, and they responded to become priests. The lay person is called by God to respond to the call of being laity. We have to remind that over and over again, that the laity is called by God to be trusted with the faith and with baptism, the laity is a genuine part of Christ. Made one with Christ. Every baptized person is one with Christ. And as baptized, lay people are established among the people of God, incorporated to the Church, the People of God. That’s why being baptized, all lay people is united in Christ being prophet, being priest, and being King.”
Archbishop Soc Villegas, in his Pastoral Exhortation of the CBCP for the 2014 Year of the Laity, reminded us that we’re baptized, not only to share in Christ’s dignity as Sons and Daughters of the Father, but also “to share in His mission for the world. His mission for us is to sanctify and transform the world so that this world becomes more like God’s world, God’s kingdom, where His will is done.”
Let us then go out into the world, not content of staying in our Churches, but out there, where the fight between good and evil is raging. Our work here on earth isn’t finished yet, just like what Jesus has said, “My Father is at work until now, and I am at work as well” (Jn 5:17). Let us allow the Holy Spirit to transform us, and cooperate fully in the work of salvation.