As we come to the end of the school year in the United States, those who have been students this past year, at any level, are attending graduations, preparing for summer school, dreaming about vacations, and looking for jobs to earn some money to help enjoy summer and prepare for a new school year or the start of a new career.
Some parents are probably wondering where the year went, how their children have grown, and grown-up so manifestly; maybe even trying to help their children make crucial decisions about the next school year.
As a Passionist with many nieces and nephews, grand-nieces and -nephews, I find myself sharing in the family engagement with the end of the school year.
That is why today’s readings seemed so timely for me as I was congratulating my grand-niece Erika on her passage out of eighth grade and into high school. The wisdom of the scriptures that I wish she would take with her into high school is richly described by St Paul in the first reading.
Paul writes to Timothy out of a prison, where he senses that his days will be coming to an end. His relationship with Timothy was both as close friend and mentor; which means that now that Paul senses that his life is coming to an end, he offers some advice which he not only understood, but which he has lived. This advice is relevant today for a younger person setting out to engage the world. They are words which Paul might have woven into a Graduation Address, had he lived in our day and been invited to speak to a graduating class.
Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, a descendant of David: such is my Gospel, for which I am suffering….If we have died with him we shall also live with him; if we persevere we shall also reign with him. Those of us who have been baptized into the body of Christ, are baptized into his death, but have also been raised with Him, which means that we share in every person’s suffering so as to witness to the Resurrection which redeems any and all suffering. We endure suffering because we shall ultimately transcend it; we endure suffering because it generates compassion for all who suffer. Paul did not walk away from his mission as an apostle when he endured so many hardships on account of it; rather, he drew strength from Christ and the Community of the Church, and continued his missionary life.
To those students who are setting out on their life’s journey, I offer them the wisdom of Paul, to pursue one’s mission in life, no matter how much we may have to endure suffering of all kinds; we know that nothing, no suffering, can separate us from the love of God and the Resurrection of Christ.
Fr. Arthur Carrillo, C.P. is the director of the Missions for Holy Cross Province. He lives in Chicago, Illinois.