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Father Muench Says...

All grads could hear the same message

June 23, 2021

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

It is graduation time! I am so pleased that so many graduations were able to happen almost properly. I am reminded of so many graduations that I have attended and so many graduations I was a part of. I have been asked to be involved in college graduations, in high school ones, in junior high graduations, even in kindergarten graduations.

This past year, we have all experienced virtual graduations. The good thing was that everyone could tune in – not just a few tickets for a family. The disappointing thing was that it was just like a television show. But they all had the usual graduation talks.

I have listened to many graduation talks. Just this past week I listened to a streamed talk given by the singer, Celine Dion, a talk she gave to the graduates of the Berklee School of Music. This is where my great niece Anna studied and graduated. This task included gratitude for being recognized and a fine reminder to the graduates that their future is just beginning.

Now here I am, so many years after my graduation from high school. I must admit I have forgotten completely who spoke at my high school graduation. By the way, do you remember who spoke at your high school graduation?

My graduation from the seminary lead immediately to my ordination as a priest. I moved right into my future. That was a gift. I know that most of you had to search and try many roads of life until you were certain of the path you should follow. I suppose there were many different jobs or careers until you were certain that you had found your place.

I believe that a speaker could give the same graduation talk to those graduating from seminary and those graduating from some other college – a school of music or receiving a degree in English or science. I believe that the way to happiness must include a life that includes reaching out with concern to others, helping those in need and living without selfishness.

So, graduates spend several years of study and developing a powerful lifestyle. A graduation speaker could, I believe, bring to each dissimilar group the very same message. You can make this world so much better by recognizing that you are the person who will be needed. We hope you will find the energy and the awareness to reach out to help those many who are going to need you. This is the message for each and every grade level – from high school to college.

That is why I propose Jesus as the greatest graduation speaker. Jesus has so many stories to tell, and actually he can be rather humorous also. So, Jesus could again tell his story of the Good Samaritan. A man falls among thieves. He is robbed and injured badly. Along comes a priest, but the priest does not want to get soiled on the Sabbath. He decides not to be of help. He walks on by.

Then comes a Levite, a temple assistant. He also doesn’t want to get soiled, so he decides to walk on by this fellow.

Then comes a Samaritan. He knows that he is a foreigner. He ignores the fact that Samaritans don’t associate with Jews. He decides he must be of help. He binds up the man’s wounds, and he takes him to a nearby inn. He makes certain the man will be properly cared for, and he pays for it all.

Which one made the world a better place? It is interesting to me that we know who the priest is and who the Levite is, but we do not know the business or the position that the Samaritan held. Yet we know what he did. He made the world a better place because he cared.

Have you ever been helped by a Good Samaritan? I know that I have and many times.

I do hope I will have the opportunity to be a Good Samaritan. I pray for the awareness that I will recognize the opportunities to be a Good Samaritan. I pray for the compassion to help another.

May this be my purpose for the rest of my life.

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