Homily: Capping and Pinning (Blessed John Paul II College of Davao)
Allow me to begin this homily with a very cute tale of a dog that has found its bone (Ang Iro nga nakakita ug usa ka bukog). There was once a dog that found a bone of a certain animal lying on the ground. When the dog tried to grab it, it moved away from him (nakahigot diay ug nylon ug gibira sa wala mailhi nga tawo). So the dog chased it. The dog was barking while running to chase the bone. Another dog heard the first dog bark and saw it running. So this second dog also barked and ran after the first dog. A third dog did the same, and so a fourth, a fifth, a sixth and in a matter of minutes, almost 20 dogs were barking and running after the first dog. Among these 20 dogs, only the first dog knew why it was running and barking: it was chasing the bone. The other dogs were just running and barking without knowing why they are doing it!
My dear nursing students, today you shall receive the pins and caps which symbolize the years of toils and the efforts you have spent in studying here in our Alma Mater. Like the dogs in our little story, we can say, you’ve been also “running” and “barking” – chasing your dream to become professional nurses. Perhaps, I don’t have to remind you of the importance of knowing the reason why you are “running” and “barking” all these years. I hope that you run and bark because you have found your bone! When you have found your “bone” – your purpose in life, your vocation, your mission – you go after it: chase it and never lose sight of it!
A similar thing takes place in the Gospel that we heard today (Cfr. Mt 13: 44-46). Jesus tells us that the kingdom of heaven is also like finding a treasure hidden in a field or finding the pearl of great price. The one who finds it would sell everything he has and would buy that field or that pearl. When we find the meaning of our existence, of all our life; when we discover the purpose and the direction of our life, we would not mind the difficulties. We could afford to lose everything for the sake of the treasure – the meaning of life that we found. The pinning and capping has this symbolism: it symbolizes that somehow you have found the direction of your life – that you have discovered the purpose and the mission of your existence: to serve as a nurse. May you never lose sight of this newly discovered treasure, this “pearl of great price”.
But, my dear friends, there is a risk in selling “everything” one has to buy the field of hidden treasure, or the pearl of great price. What if after leaving everything, after “selling” your every possession, you come back with your money, ready to buy that field or that pearl, only to discover that the field or the pearl is no longer available? What will you do?
If you notice lately, there is a dramatic drop of those who are taking up nursing nowadays. The demand for nurses locally and abroad has dramatically went down so that lots of students would rather take up other courses. What is this? The “field of hidden treasure”, the “pearl of great price”, has lost its value! You have sold everything, you have risked everything (gibaligya ang kabaw), only to find out that nursing has become unpopular! What will you do? Persist in your dreams. Believe in your capacity. As our theme states: “Persistence is easy when you believe”.
My dear students, yours is the time for purification of intentions. During the time when the nursing course was the “in-thing”, thousands flocked to take up nursing even though it was not yet very clear to them that their vocation or mission in life was to serve the community as nurses. They took up nursing simply because it was the in-thing. It promised easy job and income. When you take up a course with this kind of motive or any motive other than right one, then, you are just like those dogs that run and bark without really knowing why they are doing so.
But now that the nursing course has become less popular, and you are still here “running” and “barking” to chase your dreams, receiving today your pins and caps, we could say that you are really meant to become nurses: that you understand very well how important it is to have the right intention in choosing your career. You really have found your bone!
Now that you have found your “bone”, do not lose it! Cling to it. Preserve it. Be good at it. Be professional nurses: nurses who serve; nurses who care; nurses who do their best in fulfilling their task with utmost professionalism; nurses who offer to God every effort, every fatigue, every stress, every smile even if the schedules are unbearable; nurses who try to convert their work and service into prayer by offering them for the greater glory of God, as St. Ignatius taught (whose feast we celebrate today). In a word, be professional nurses who know how to sanctify their work and themselves through their profession by working with professionalism, sincerity, loyalty and the right intention of glorifying God.
When you do this, you will become intimate friends with God. And you will speak to God more often in prayer, just like Moses in the First Reading (Cfr. Ex 34: 29-35), who speaks with God with familiarity and intimacy as if he was just talking to a friend. When you pray often to God, your face will also shine (like that of Moses) with joy and youthfulness. And you will be able to give authentic smiles to your patients. And your patients will encounter God, Jesus and Mary through you. All of these started simply with the finding of your own “little bone” in life.