Homily Delivered at 2012 Mass of the Holy Spirit

By Father Salvatore Ragusa
Sept. 5, 2012

I have a confession to make...yes, priests also go to confession...or at least they should!
I am guilty of receiving a gift and rather than keep it or use it I did what many folks do: I passed it on to someone else…I regifted!

I convince myself that regifting could be a good thing, in that someone else will use and enjoy something I would not or could use. But there are times when regifting is nothing more than a cop-out, a refusal of the gift we are given.

Jesus receives the gift of the Spirit at his baptism in the Jordan. He proclaims that in the Spirit he will bring good news, healing, sight, freedom. But it is the same Spirit that will lead Jesus to the desert, where he will be tempted…tempted to give up his gifts, take the easy way out. Even to his final moments on Earth when they would shout… “If you are the Son of God, come down off the cross.” But Jesus decides not to regift but to be true to his call. 

Mary was offered  the gift of being "mother of God." She is a young girl, frightened, amazed, confused. She asks questions...how can this be? Mary is free to say yes or no. Mary decided not to regift but to be true to her call.

John Baptist de La Salle was called by God to make a difference in the church and the world by creating a radical new understanding of education. He struggled with this call and was ready to pass it on…He could give financial backing, or mentor a group of men who would actually carry out this idea of educating the poor while he retained his wealth and status in society and the Church. Saint John Baptist de La Salle decided not to regift but to be true to his call.

There are too many people to name who have nurtured the gift that is Saint Mary’s College of California for the past 150 years…The move from San Francisco to Oakland and from Oakland  to Moraga, the financial issues that almost led to bankruptcy are just a few challenges that our founders and partners faced…but they decided not to regift but to be true to their call.

What about us? What will we do with the gifts we have been given? Will each of us be true to our call? Will we bring our various and diverse gifts together to be that institution where faith and reason engage one another in the great conversation. A conversation that leads to truth, and truth that leads to justice, freedom and life. That is the gift God is giving us today. Will we use it or regift it?

Finally, every now and then I hear this phrase on our campus: We want to be the Stanford of the East Bay! Personally, I hope we  never become the Stanford of the East Bay. We are something better, we are Saint Mary’s College of California, and that is the gift we have been given, and that is the gift we have to give to the Church and to the world. No regifting necessary!