Thursday, June 10, 2021


   Congrats CRJ Class of 2021!!!

Baccalaureate Homily Cristo Rey Jesuit 

Baltimore  June 2021.

Rick Malloy, S.J.

Remember when you were a little kid, and you did something, and you’d call out, “Look at me!”

Well, we have been looking for you for these past four years.  Today we see you.  Young scholars.  Open to growth; committed to being life-long learners; ready to work hard in all arenas of life; burning with the desire to see a society of Justice; ready to love in ways that will make a world of peace and prosperity, joy and justice, hope and healing, faith and freedom, life and love.

It has been a long and trying year.  Classes online, the never ending Covid crisis, so much of life disrupted and disjointed.  The tragedy and pain of the loss of our beloved Gabby.  But through it all you have persevered.  You have applied to and been accepted by so many wonderful colleges.  From Morgan State to Morehouse, from Notre Dame in South Bend to Notre Dame of Maryland, from Loyola and Johns Hopkins here in Baltimore to Howard University in Washington, DC: on and on!  You are set to go and set the world on fire!

Let me today say something about fires, good fires and bad fires, and something about freedom.

St. Ignatius says, “Go and set the world on fire.”  There are two kinds of fire.  There are fires that burn down and destroy.  And there are fires that transform and give light.  Today, as young men and women for and with others, Go and set the world on fire with the transformative fires of justice and truth, peace and love.

Our faith in liberation begins with the experience of Moses.  He’s out in the desert.  He has run away from Pharoah.  He is living quietly and comfortably.  And he comes upon a burning bush, a good fire that reveals the presence of God.  It is a burning bush that is not destroyed by the flames.

From that good fire comes the communication of our mysterious God.  The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob says, maybe screams, “I have heard the cry of my people.  I have heard them crying out because of the slave drivers.  I am moved by their suffering.  I have come to rescue them.”  And so, Moses knew he stood on Holy Ground.

Holy Ground.  This is Holy Ground today.  Cristo Rey Jesuit, on Chester street, and online, is Holy Ground.  You stand today on the Holy Ground of your future, our future.

Class of 2021, you are poised to go on to college and careers.  You are like Moses.  You are like his sister Miriam.  You are called by God to work today for the liberation and freedom of those who are oppressed and enslaved.

Today, there are a lot of bad fires burning out there.  These bad fires need to be put out.  Some of Baltimore is burning.  Our environment is burning.  Our society is being burned by systemic racism.  Our politics are burning in the fires of polarization, misinformation and outright lies.  The destructive fires of prejudice and hatred directed at LGBTQ persons, Asians, African Americans, and Latinos and Latinas, are burning down norms of civility and truth telling.  There are thousands of fires burning on the Southern Border of the USA, La Frontera.  Thousands of people, many of them little kids, are fleeing for safety.  Their homelands are burning. 

But the good fires, the transformative fires, also burn.  The good fire of the bush that Moses saw still lights the way to God and community.  Out of that burning bush comes the Word.  The Word is transformative fire, the fire of God’s love that lights our paths. 

Go and set the world on fire with the transformative fire of God’s love.  Throw water on the destructive fires of hate and prejudice, injustice and political insanity.  Get busy.  Go and confront Pharoah.  Go and tell Pharoah to let the people go Free.  Go and make a world of Faith and Justice and Reconciliation.  Go and establish Social Justice in the land.  Go and love one another.  Go and worship the God who gives us the grace, the power, to do all these things.

Congressman John Lewis, the great civil rights leader, who was no older than you when he began to work with Rev. Martin Luther King in the early 1960s, said,

“Do not get lost in a sea of despair.  Be hopeful, be optimistic.  Our struggle in not the struggle of a day, a week, a month or a year.  It is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.”

That’s what Moses did.  He got into trouble with Pharoah.  That led to setting free the enslaved Israelite people.  The second Moses, Jesus, comes and begins his public ministry with the promise and challenge “to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free.” 

St. Paul tells us “For freedom, Christ has set us free” (Gal 5:1).  Us… all of us… not just the few, not just the rich, not just the mighty…. Us…. all of us, free.  Jesus wants us all to be truly free.

Cesar Chavez, who organized farm workers in California once said,

“We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community… Out ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own.”  Chavez also said, “It is possible to become discouraged about the injustice we see everywhere. But God did not promise us that the world would be humane and just. He gives us the gift of life and allows us to choose the way we will use our limited time on earth. It is an awesome opportunity.”

This awesome opportunity is your story.  Michelle Obama says, “Your story is what you have, your story is what you will always have.  Your story is something to own.”  Own the story of freedom, the story of liberation, the story of Moses and Jesus, of John Lewis and Cesar Chavez. 

Mrs. Obama also says,

You cannot take your freedoms for granted. Just like generations who have come before you, you have to do your part to preserve and protect those freedoms... you need to be preparing yourself to add your voice to our national conversation.”

Class of 2021, young scholars, you matter.  You are loved.  Go and Be like Moses and Miriam.  Go and be like Jesus.  Go and be like John Lewis.  Go and be like Cesar Chavez.  Go and add your voice and tell the story of Freedom of which Mrs. Obama speaks.  Go and bless the world, for you are blessed.  You have blessed Cristo Rey Jesuit High School.  Thanks for who you are.  Remember: You matter.  Go and make a world wherein we can all grow happy and healthy and holy and free.  God Bless you this day and all the days of your life.

And may our Good and Gracious God grant you all Joy for the Journey, Courage for the Choices, Faith for the Freeing, Hope for the Healing and Love for the lasting.  AMEN.

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