Leaving Cert Graduation Mass

Homily at Leaving Cert Graduation Mass
May 25th, 2010

Don’t worry!

Our readings chosen today have the common theme: ‘don’t worry’! That is easier said than done.

There are three possible states we are in as you face your exams.
One extreme – the opposite of worry, is carelessness. I remember hearing about someone who set up a webpage ‘www.lazy.com’ and when you opened it all it said was ‘I couldn’t be bothered’!

Most of us are at the other extreme – we are in fact worried, anxious, fearful. And believe it or not once your exams are over you will find other things to worry about: points, college places, where you will end up, will you make friends and so on. All of us have worries: the future, money, work, health, family and so on. Your parents and teachers are worried about your performance and your results.

What Jesus is asking us to do is a third scenario: not to worry. Of course we are rightly and charitably concerned about others and about ourselves, but we can overdo it especially about ourselves.

We all have a tendency to exaggerate our own importance. One of the great put-down lines in the series ‘Frasier’ is put to annoying Niles, Frasier’s younger brother ; ‘Copernicus just called, you’re no longer centre of the solar system! It’s like the old joke ‘how many teenagers does it take to change a light-bulb?’ ‘One; he/she puts up his hand holding the light-bulb, they keep perfectly still, and the whole world revolves around them.’

Of course we must be concerned about our lives, and our welfare and while ‘nothing is impossible to God’, we have work to do. It is like the story of the lottery ticket. A man prayed each week to win the Lotto, and yet he never won a thing. After he died, the first question he put to God was: ‘why didn’t you answer my prayer?’ and the Lord answered ‘look, I can do a lot of things but you could at least have made it easy for me to grant your petition by buying a ticket!’ We have to play our part; we can’t be passive spectators of our own lives.

One of the best bits of advice in this regard I ever got at your age was ‘Have you done your best? If the answer is ‘yes’ then I was told ‘you can’t do anymore. No-one can do more than their best.’ So, we have to do our best and hand the rest over to God. It means surrender; it means handing over control to God. It isn’t always easy – it requires faith and trust. We think we are in control, but we are not. The volcanic ash cloud has taught us that much – we are at the mercy of nature; to ‘acts of God.’ It is humbling to think we do not have mastery over everything that will happen to us. We have to learn and re-learn this important life lesson. But a wise friend of mine has a prayer she says every morning: ‘Dear God, I know that there is nothing that will happen to me today that you and I can’t handle together.’ Another simpler way of putting it is ‘we have to let go and let God’.

One last point: the theme we have chosen all year is ‘This is our school’. In years to come you will be frequently asked, ‘what school did you attend?’, and of course your answer will be ‘Colaiste Muire’. Never forget who ‘Muire’ is – Our Lady and Our Mother. As some of you may know, I go to Fatima, Portugal each year on pilgrimage. This year it so happens that I will be there the week you get your exam results - I will be praying for you! But the word ‘FATIMA’ also reminds me of the phrase I would like you to remember too: ‘Faith and Trust in Mary Always.’

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