(A homily given to newly licensed Pharmacists of San Pedro College and the University of Immaculate Conception during their Thanksgiving Mass and Oath-taking Ceremony, February 26, 2013, 13:00, at the Pinnacle Hotel, Davao City.)
The Holy Eucharist is an act of thanksgiving. The Greek noun eukharistia (εὐχαριστία) derives from Greek prefix eu-: “good, well, happy, pleasing” (i.e. eubiotics = the study of living in a healthy state) + the Greek noun kharis: “undeserved kindness, favor or grace”. Hence, eukharisteo (εὐχαριστῶ) is the usual Greek verb used in the New Testament for “to give thanks for any undeserved favor received”.
Today, we thank the Lord in this Eucharistic celebration for the numerous “undeserved graces and blessings” He has bestowed on us – the success that we have reached. We know that we don’t deserve this. Without God’s grace, we could not have garnered what we are enjoying right now!
God can shower us lots of blessings and graces – the gift of understanding and wisdom – because He is the source of wisdom. God is Wisdom Himself. Our intelligence and will are His gifts to us. How we use them in our studies and our profession is our gift to Him. Whenever we use rightly and for the good of our fellowmen these gifts of intellect and will, we glorify God. St. Ireneaus said, “The glory of God is man fully alive”.
Man is fully alive, meaning, is fully human when he exercises to the full the essence of humanity, that is, his intellect and will. When we use our intelligence to attain knowledge and wisdom, to search for the truth of man, the world and God, and to use it for the good of our fellowmen, we act in a more humane way.
Our success today is a living proof that we have used our intelligence to the fullest. Our success simply manifests our becoming more human. And St Josemaria Escriva said, “The more human we become, the more we are capable of becoming divine”. Hence, if we want to be more divine, we have to be more human. We have to exercise our intelligence and will.
The exercise of the will is the most difficult part. It is the nature of the intellect to search for the truth. It is the nature of the will to search for the good. But our will is weakened by the sin of disobedience committed by our first parents – Adam and Eve. We notice in ourselves a tendency to commit sin.
Although weakened, our will has not lost its capacity to move itself towards the good. Besides, God Himself is very willing to supply us with the necessary grace for the rightful exercise of our will. In the First Reading, the Lord says through the Prophet Isaiah: “Though your sins be like scarlet, they will be white as snow; though they be as crimson red, they will be white as wool. If you obey me, you will eat the goods of the earth”.
We see in this that the true exercise of our free will – of our freedom – is in doing what is good. True freedom of the will is not a matter of choice between the good and evil. Freedom is not a choice to do evil. The evil choice destroys freedom. Freedom is choosing only the good. Our will is free when we opt for the good. When we do good, we exercise our free will, hence, we become more human.
The constant doing of what is right and good develops in us the virtues that will, in turn, make it easy to do more good acts. Hence, we must strive to develop virtues like honesty, sincerity, chastity and obedience.
As pharmacists, the exercise of these virtues is very important today as we are confronted with lots of difficulties – moral and legal ones – in the conduct of our profession. The time has come when a Catholic pharmacist who believes firmly that the use of contraception is contrary to what is taught by his faith, will experience a crisis of conscience when he or she is faced with the obligation to sell condoms and abortifacient pills in the pharmacy. (I know of a Spanish couple who had to close their pharmacy because they were compelled by the government to sell products that are contrary to their faith).
My dear pharmacists, if you want to be true Catholics, you must have a conviction. You must have a moral stand. I urge you, STAND WITH THE TEACHINGS OF JESUS, AS TAUGHT BY THE CATHOLIC CHURCH!
This does not mean, however, that the conduct of our profession is a hindrance to our Catholic faith. Never! In fact, the Church teaches that our profession is our vocation, our way to holiness. But how can it be a way to holiness if it does not conform to the will of God? We want to conform the conduct of our profession to God’s will. It is just that our ambiance – the environment we are in – pushes us to the contrary. What do we do? We strive for coherence between our words and actions, between what we believe and how we act.
Jesus, in our Gospel today condemns hypocrisy. “You shall do and observe all they say, but do not do as they do, for they do not do what they say”. Inconsistency between your words and actions is a form of hypocrisy. Not only teachers and preachers, like me, must be careful to conform what we say to what we do. Not only priests and educators are urged to walk their talk. Pharmacists, too, must make sure that the conduct of their profession is consistent with the Catholic faith that they profess!
This is our challenge, teachers, preachers and pharmacists alike – a daunting task, but not impossible. For the grace of God is always sufficient for us. “My grace is enough for you”, our Lord tells St. Paul. “Si no vives como piensas, acabarás pensando como vives” (If you don’t behave according to how you believe, you’ll end up believing according to how to behave). If our Christian faith will not be translated into good actions, our evil actions will determine our way of believing.
This challenging task of becoming coherent in our faith and actions, especially in the conduct of our profession requires that we exercise well our intelligence and will, and that we submit them to the will of God. Only then will we become more human. And by becoming more human, we become more divine.
Let us ask the Blessed Virgin Mary to help us develop coherence between our faith and our profession so that we may little by little grow deeper in our call to holiness.