A call to embrace a life sustained by love
|Picture by María C. Sit|
*** Miami, Florida: I shared this message with La Progresiva Presbyterian School 2022 Senior Class on Friday, May 27, 2022. This was my 10th and last commencement address shared with a school ministry that will remain in my heart for years to come: "Una vez de La Progresiva, siempre de La Progresiva."
At some point I was debating between saying “Congratulations” to you on this day and saying “I am deeply sorry”. Both feelings are strongly struggling inside me, right here, right now.
First of all, I congratulate you for completing this foundational part of your life’s journey. A journey filled with a little bit of everything: dreams and challenges, sorrows and joys, tiredness and energy, discouragement and hope. You are here, and you reached this point with your hard work, with the guidance of your teachers, and with the support of your loved ones. So, yes!: “Congratulations” is in order.
At the same time, “I am deeply sorry” is also in order. I am sorry because the world that you will face is not the ideal world your previous generations dreamed of. This is not the 21st century that we envisioned back in the 70's, 80’s and 90’s. You will face a world plagued with wars, inequality, injustice, famine, sickness, insecurity, economic disparity, systemic racism, and mass shootings...
... my heart breaks as I recall the horrible nature of recent events, this very month, on American soil:— On May 14, a racist attack at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, took the lives of 10 people and left three more injured.
— On May 15, a gunman attacked a Taiwanese worshiping community at Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, California. And,
— on this past Tuesday, May 24, at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, another shooter wounded 18 people, and killed 21 of which 19 were children that will never see their graduation day.
— 21 weeks into the year and our country has already seen 213 mass shootings.
I invite you to take a moment of silent prayer to honor these lives...
A dire panorama like this one, calls us to consider what are the things that really matter in life. The hunger for power, wealth, fame, possessions, and individual success is not the answer --on the contrary, it is killing the soul of our society. We are called to be different: we are called to embrace a life sustained by love.
The Spirit of God gave prophet Micah words that are as relevant today as they were relevant in ancient times: “He has told you, human one, what is good and what the Lord requires from you: to do justice, embrace faithful love, and walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8 CEB)
This is also the Spirit that led Jesus Christ to say “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, and with all your mind...” and “You must love your neighbor as you love yourself.” (Matthew 22:37,39 CEB)
...and in the same Spirit, as you answer God’s invitation to be different and to embrace a life sustained by love, I would love to pronounce upon you the following blessing:
May God bless you with discontent with easy answers, half-truths, superficial relationships, so that you will live from deep within your heart.
May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, abuse, and exploitation of people, so that you will work for justice, equality, and peace.
May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation and war, so that you will reach out your hand to comfort them and to change their pain to joy.
May God bless you with the foolishness to think you can make a difference in this world, so that you will do the things which others tell you cannot be done.
If you have the courage to accept these blessings, then God will also bless you with:
happiness—because you will know that you have made life better for others
inner peace—because you will have worked to secure an outer peace for others
laughter—because your heart will be light
faithful friends—because they will recognize your worth as a person.
These blessings are yours—not for the asking, but for the giving—from One who wants to be your companion, our God, who lives and reigns, forever and ever. Amen.
La Progresiva Presbyterian School 2022 Senior Class... Now I can joyfully say: Congratulations!
Soli Deo Gloria.