On Monday, April 9, the Regis High School community gathered at the Church of Saint Ignatius Loyola to celebrate its Easter liturgy, and join the universal Church in celebrating the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, normally recognized on March 25 (nine months before Christmas) but moved this year due to Holy Week and Easter Week. Below is a reprint of Fr. Jim Croghan, SJ's homily delivered at the Mass.
“Fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman's selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists the help of his newfound ally, Diana Prince, to face an even greater enemy. Together, Batman and Wonder Woman work quickly to find and recruit a team of metahumans to stand against this newly awakened threat. But despite the formation of this unprecedented league of heroes-Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg and The Flash-it may already be too late to save the planet from an assault of catastrophic proportions.” (IMDb plot summary of the Justice League, 2017)
That, of course, is a plot summary for the movie, Justice League, the tag line for which is, You can’t save the world alone. Some of you may recall that I wanted to use the line in a homily back in early November when we celebrated the Feast of All Saints.
It’s one of three lines that have gotten stuck in my brain over the last several months. A second is “The audacity of the impossible” from Fr. Arturo Sosa, the Jesuit superior general who has called every Jesuit school in the world to make the audacity of the impossible the hallmark of what we do in our schools.
“Learn to change the world” is the third. The Harvard Graduate School of Education has used it for a couple of years as part of a capital campaign. It’s about as pithy a statement of what every school should be helping its students do as you’ll find.
That’s all prelude. I’ll return to it in a moment.
Today we gather as a school community to celebrate our Easter liturgy and at the same time we join the universal Church in celebrating the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, normally seen on March 25—nine months before Christmas—but this year moved to today having been preempted by Holy Week and Easter Week.
So, just after making our way to the climax of our faith story in the great events of Easter, we return for a day to the beginning. And hear in our gospel the story of Gabriel appearing to Mary and telling her that she will experience something impossible. Mary steps into the unknown, takes a risk in faith, and says Yes. Let it be done to me, as you say making possible all that follows.
We hear this while there remain loud echoes of the last two weeks: From Palm Sunday through to Jesus’s passion, death and resurrection. On the first day of break we remembered and celebrated Jesus’s final meal with his closest companions:
“This is my body that is for you.
Do this in remembrance of me.”
In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying,
“This cup is the new covenant in my blood.
Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
The Church has done and has remembered for 2000 years. We do and we remember today.
And that was not all:
“Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me 'teacher' and 'master,' and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another's feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”
Then from the reading of the passion on Good Friday:
There they crucified him, and with him two others,
one on either side, with Jesus in the middle...
Jesus said, “I thirst.”
So they put a sponge soaked in wine...
and put it up to his mouth.
When Jesus had taken the wine, he said,
“It is finished.”
And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit.
Dead. The end. The story so recently begun was over.
But it wasn’t the end. Wild rumors and stories of the impossible began to swirl.
Stories about women going to the tomb at daybreak, an earthquake and visions of angels, fear and bewilderment, terror and puzzlement, the tomb empty, the angelic messengers saying, Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified is not here, he has been raised, go and tell his disciples. Scenes of grief, disbelief of what the women reported, because their story seemed like nonsense.
Other stories of Jesus appearing to Mary, to his disciples, to two disciples on a road leading away from the tomb, but their hearts burning as they listened to a stranger explain the scriptures to them, and their eyes being opened and recognition coming when the bread was blessed and broken.
Messages repeated again and again: “do not be afraid”, “peace be with you,” go and be my witnesses. “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.” Proclaim the good news of God’s Kingdom. The good news of mercy and forgiveness, humility and compassion, fidelity and integrity, justice and love, of community and kinship.
We need to let all this soak in. From Mary’s “Yes” which welcomed the birth of Jesus to Mary Magdalen’s proclamation of the Risen Jesus to the other disciples. We need to dive into the grand mystery of it all and let it wrap itself around us. To fill our hearts and minds and souls to overflowing.
Why do we need to do this? Because we live in a world in need of profound and lasting healing. Because we live in a world in need of people who can step into the unknown, take a risk in faith, and say Yes. People who can imagine a different world, in Fr. Sosa’s words, one in which humanity is reconciled in justice, that lives in peace in a common home well cared for, where there is a place for all of us because we recognize our brothers and sisters, sons and daughters of the same and one God.” (Homily, Fr. Arturo Sosa, S.J.)
The “audacity of the impossible.”
Learn to change the world.
“You can’t save the world alone.”
Whenever I’m asked to describe Regis I give the same basic answer. Regis is 530 of the nicest and smartest kids you’d ever want to work with. I say that because that’s my experience of you. Listen, we know you’re not perfect, but I say it with sincerity because I believe it to be overwhelmingly true.
That’s who you are now. When I think about your potential, about the impact you can have on the world around you, on a troubled world that needs you, I think of you a bit differently. I think of you as unprecedented league of heroes.
Is that asking too much? After all the justice league was made up of metahumans. If my seven years here have taught me anything it’s that for many of you, perhaps even most, metahuman is really just code for Regian.
My prayer for you today—and everyday—is that in God’s grace you will have the courage to take a risk as Mary did and say Yes. Say yes to a life of mercy and forgiveness, humility and compassion, fidelity and integrity, justice and love, community and kinship. And you will indeed be, and are already on your way to being, an unprecedented league of heroes.
Church of St. Ignatius Loyola
April 9, 2018