Saturday, June 3, 2017

Greatness is Found in Humility

"We all have our story, the unique place and family that we come from." CJ shared in his commencement speech two weeks ago. "And during our time at Notre Dame, our stories have become interwoven and linked. We have lived and studied alongside people very different from ourselves, who have become our friends and family. I want to tell you about two of my friends who have shaped my vision for life while being here.

Walking into Jordan Hall for international orientation four years ago, I could not have anticipated that I would meet one of my best friends at school – Majak from South Sudan. This past semester, Majak has been in his home community, Bor-town, pioneering a school for 240 students, through his organization Education Bridge. I have learned deeper magic, the power of sacrifice, from Majak as he gives his life to service in the context of conflict and famine.


Coming to Siegfried Hall, a proud all-men’s residence, little did I know how much our time as Siegfried boys would be shaped by the songs and joy of Ms. Ellen, the champion housekeeper of Siegfried. Ms. Ellen is working in the hall today, serving all the families and visitors during this commencement weekend. She embodies a deeper magic that arises each day and shares God’s love with the world. To Ms. Ellen, I hope you are watching, and to every employee of the University of Notre Dame, in every department, every building, every function – when we say “We are ND” we mean you...


Class of 2017, we would not let our rights be taken from us or our futures dictated to us. Therefore, as you and I leave this stadium, we must fight for others, for their unalienable rights, so that their future becomes their own. Our generation must stand against the scapegoating of Muslims. Our concern for freedom of religion must mean freedom for all religions, not just our own, otherwise none of us is free. We must commit ourselves to make certain that all of our friends and classmates at Notre Dame receive equal rights and respect when they leave this stadium with us...

We believe that greatness is found in humility. It is in giving of ourselves — as we leave today — that we find ourselves. Our time at Notre Dame has taken place within a tradition that explicitly follows the deeper love of Jesus that crosses borders...

We are part of something bigger. We stand on the shoulders of giants, as we carry on the love of our families and the legacy of Father Hesburgh...

Father Hesburgh and Majak

Our calling as we leave this stadium is to get these gowns dirty together, as we wade into muddy waters, as our learning becomes service to justice. When we follow the deeper callings of justice and proclaim the deeper magic of love and sacrifice that connect all of us – no matter which corner of the world we come from, then we will be true to what we have learned at Notre Dame. Then we will be true to our humanity, to the person that God has called each of us to be."

Reverend Gregory Boyle's speech was also very powerful.


"You imagine with God a circle of compassion and then you imagine nobody standing outside that circle. You go from here to dismantle the barriers that exclude.

And there’s only one way to do that: and that is to go where the joy is, which is at the margins, for if you stand at the margins, that’s the only way they’ll get erased, and you stand with the poor, and the powerless and the voiceless. You stand with those whose dignity has been denied, and you stand with those whose burdens are more than they can bear, and you will go from here and have this exquisite privilege once in a while to be able to stand with the easily despised and the readily left out, with the demonized so that the demonizing will stop, and with the disposable, so the day will come when we stop throwing people away...

You go from this place so that other voices get to be heard, and you go equipped with values so eloquently articulated by C.J. earlier, values born in the Acts of the Apostles: see how they love one another. There’s nobody needy in this community...

The measure of our compassion lies not in our service of those on the margins but only in our willingness to see ourselves in kinship with them."

Amen.

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