Baccalaureate 2012 Homily

By Rev. John J. Conley, S.J.

The scene of the gospel is simple.

A gardener plants seeds in his back yard.

Some of the seeds tumble on the gravel path. They wither. Other seeds land in the scarlet rosebushes. The thorns strangle them. A March wind blows up. Those seeds crash into the garage door. Other seeds bounce too far into the jagged rock garden. Without soil, they slowly fade in the early spring sun.

But thanks to the gardener and some cooperation from the garden, a few seeds take root.  In April and May, they burst through the ground and flower. And in the midst of the garden, a small tree slowly climbs. In years to come, it will tower over the house. The tree will give shade for the family picnics and host a swing for the family children and carve an arbor for the family romances.

God is the gardener who plants the seed. And here at Loyola God has planted and nurtured the seed within us. We have touched God’s truth in that paper about the founding of Maryland or in that frustrating math assignment which had something to do with the infinite. We have tasted God’s beauty in the Advent concert of Lessons and Carols and in those incredible shots during our basketball season. And we have witnessed God’s goodness in the dedicated teacher who always gave back our assignments the next class, in the friend who forgave us for breaking a great promise, and in the street person who taught us more than we helped them in a service project.

In a hundred disguises, God dwells in a thousand nooks of Loyola and gently nurtures the growing life within us.

God is the gardener and the seed is God’s word. That word does not simply dwell obscure and veiled in the truth, the beauty, and the goodness we have glimpsed during our Loyola years. At its most perfect, in person―outright―that Word is Jesus Christ.

As we leave Loyola, we rightly pray for success for the professions we shall choose.  We rightly pray for happiness in our life commitments, whether they be in the priesthood, a religious order, marriage, or the dedicated single life. But God’s Word asks and gives far more than the suburban contentment our society counts as success. Christ calls us to life with radical roots in the praise of God and in the sacrificial love of the neighbor, especially that difficult, unwelcome neighbor God will always send our way.

As we leave Loyola, God’s Word summons to leave behind the vapors of spirituality for the bracing light of faith in the cross of Our Savior Jesus Christ―and none other―of hope in His glorious resurrection―and no lesser hope―and of an ardent love of our neighbor, especially of the neighbor we consider an enemy.

This rootedness in the Word of Christ is the true path of happiness. It is the great tree of life which rises up for God’s greater glory, now and in eternity.

May God richly bless and guide you all.

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