Fr. Johnny C. Go, S.J., School Director
Let me begin by doing a little math with you.
Ten years ago, in the year 1996, a total of 550 four year olds found themselves in the administration lobby of Xavier School. Some of them were wide eyed with eagerness and anticipation; others were in tears, even kicking and screaming as they were dragged with great embarrassment by their parents.
The occasion? It was your entrance exam for our Nursery.
There were 550 of who applied to Xavier School’s Nursery that year. Out of those 550, how many do you think are here with us today for this Closing Ceremony? Can you take a guess?
Let’s see: Today, there are 301 of you in your batch, but 33 joined us only after Nursery. So that means out of the 550 who applied to our Nursery, only 268 have survived and are with us today. 268 out of 550! That’s 49%! Not even half of those 550 kids ten years ago whose parents originally hoped for a Xavier Education for their sons!
Now, these numbers tell us something very important: A Xavier Education is a gift that is not given to all. We may be wondering: What enabled you to receive and complete your Xavier Grade School Education? I think there are three main factors:
First, your parents who, among the many possible—and less costly—schools to choose from, decided to send you to Xavier School. They worked hard to make sure that you get what they considered the best possible education—not only in terms of academic development, but also in terms of your total Christian formation. To your parents, you have much to be grateful for.
Second, yourself—your innate abilities and gifts, but also your discipline and hard work. Without your talents and effort, it would not have been possible for you to make it today. Today you ought to congratulate yourselves, pat yourselves on the shoulder for “a job truly well done!”
Finally, our Lord, the Source of All Gifts. There are a thousand and one reasons why you could have just as easily ended up in another school—just like the other half of those kids who applied here ten years ago. There are just as many reasons why you could not have made it today after nine years in Xavier School. But our Lord wanted to make sure that you will be among those going up the stage today. He used all your teachers and formators as His instruments to reach out to you, to touch you, to help you make the most of your Xavier education.
When you think about it, you have been chosen. God has his reasons for choosing you to be among the few who have received and benefited from a Xavier Education. As you go to High School, I want you to find out what His reasons are.
The theme for our graduation is “Believe in your light.” In your years of schooling here in Xavier, I hope you have caught a glimpse of your light, just as your classmates, parents, and teachers and formators have seen your talents, gifts, and potentials. Your years in high school will continue to be years of discovery—for you to learn more about yourself, your abilities and gifts, and to develop them.
I’d like to end by telling you an ancient story about a man who was so good and so holy that even the angels were impressed with him.
One day the angels asked God to give this holy man the gift of miracles. God wisely told his angels to ask the man first if that was what he would wish.
So the angels visited this good man and offered him the gift of healing by hands. But the saint—for that was what he was—refused.
Then they offered him the gift of stopping storms. Once again the good man refused.
Finally, they offered him the gift of driving away demons. The good man smiled politely, but again he turned the angels down.
The angels insisted that he choose a gift or they would choose one for him. “Very well,” he replied. “I ask that I may do good to others without ever knowing it.”
The angels were perplexed. They held a meeting among themselves to discuss the good man’s extraordinary request until they finally reached a consensus: They would ask God to give this man a holy shadow. Every time the saint’s shadow fell behind him, it would have the power to cure disease, ease pain, and comfort sorrow.
And so every time the saint’s shadow trailed behind him, it acquired this gift of miracles: His shadow made dry lands green. It caused withered plants to bloom. It brought forth clear running water to dried-up brooks. It restored sick and pale children back to health. And finally it gave joy to men and women who were in sorrow.
The saint simply went about his daily life bringing about good the way stars give out light without ever being aware of it. The people respected his humility and followed behind him silently, never speaking to him about his miracles. The saint began to be known as the “Holy Shadow.”
We can learn two things from this story. First, believe in your light, in the gifts and talents that God has given us. The holy man in the story believed in his light so well that he even felt no need or desire to be told about his light.
Secondly, cast holy shadows. whatever we do, we always cast our shadow. And whether we know it or not, our shadows do affect other people: What we say and what we do—this is what our shadows symbolize. They can help—or harm—others. The good news is that it is completely up to us to decide what kind of shadow we want to cast on others. We have the freedom to decide on what we say and what we do. It is up to us to choose whether we want to cast a holy shadow, helping and healing others, or an unholy one, harming and hurting others.
Today we anticipate the Annunciation, when the angel Gabriel announced to Mary God’s choice for her to be the mother of God. She too was chosen. She never expected the announcement, but she believed in her own light—even if perhaps all she saw then was a flicker. More importantly, she made sure that wherever she went, wherever her shadow fell, good things emerged.
And so today, just as we encourage you to believe in your light, we also remind you to cast holy and helpful shadows on others. When you think about it, that is one way of understanding what our school motto means: “Luceat Lux! Let your light shine!”
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