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Courage and Fear No More!
(Homily for Senior High School Mass (Mt 9:1-8))

My dear Grade 11 students, parents, and all family members.

Our situation now is very different from the normal situation we have been used to. At present, we are all locked down at home or somewhere we believe we can be safe from the viral infection. Some of us are in school but we have to maintain social distancing because physical closeness now could mean death if we transmit the virus to the other with weaker immune system.  So we have to always observe safety measures at home and anywhere like physical distancing, washing of hands, wearing of masks, coughing and sneezing etiquette, and staying at home as much as possible. So those who do not observe these like in certain places in the country, the military and police are deployed and tasked to force people to stay in their homes. That is how grave the effect of this pandemic to all of us. It forces us to limit our activities, it separates us from one another, it makes us always nervous for our safety and for the safety of our loved ones, and it can kill us fast or gradual.

In our Mass today, we just heard the Gospel story of Jesus healing the paralytic brought to him on a stretcher. He admired them because of their faith that he could heal him so he said to the paralytic, courage! We all listen to Jesus as if we are in the place of the paralytic, somehow paralyzed in many ways because of this Covid pandemic.

That is one important message of the Lord to us, to you, my dear students; courage, do not be afraid!  What make us afraid now? The challenges ahead and the uncertainty of the future are enough to weaken and discourage us.  There is the financial challenge due to the adverse impact of Covid 19 on our economy and on or family’s income; the challenge of keeping and enlivening social relations due to imposed physical distancing; the psycho-emotional burden caused by fear of getting infected and of infecting our loved ones; the challenge of making major changes in our lives to adjust to the new normal, and for you my dear students, the challenge to continue your studies while at home and without seeing your classmates, friends, and teachers. Moreover, the new mode of learning which we call flexible learning, a combination of online/digital, the use of learning packets, and on-campus classes albeit physically-distanced may have scared some of you because it’s new and no one among us have tried this before. All these challenges have been affecting us and causing us to just worry and get stifled sometimes.

But no! We heed the call of Jesus, courage and fear no more! The Lord is the one who is going to heal us from our anxiety, apprehension, and fear. Let us trust the Lord and do our best to proceed with our lives, our work, and with our studies.

That is why we are here and ready to begin our classes next week. Just like the paralytic who was carried by his friends to be able to reach Jesus, let us also help and support one another to overcome this pandemic.  No other way to beat the pandemic but to be one and united in overcoming it.  I would like to assure you as I speak on behalf of the school administrators, principal and his assistants, your teachers, formators, non-teaching staff, and our chaplain Fr. Manny Amanence that we are here ready to help you adjust, learn, and make the most out of the quality, holistic, Jesuit education which Xavier Ateneo will offer you. Do not let the pandemic overpower you but instead let it inspire you to be trusting in your capability, in your teachers’ ability, in your parents’ guidance, and in Xavier Ateneo’s quality education.

In today’s Mass, we ask the Lord Almighty to journey with us in these trying times and strengthen and guide each of us as we continue our education and formation here at Xavier Ateneo Senior High School.  May the power of the Almighty God be in each of you.  Amen