Don Bosco Philippines South Province

Salesians of Don Bosco – Philippine South Province FIS

“Lost-and-Found” Youth

Homily on the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time; 11 Sept 2022, Ghana, West Africa

I am Fr Mel. I came all the way from the Philippines in South East Asia in order to attend an important event here in Ghana, the first profession of Bro. Sunil and his twelve other batchmates, now called Salesians of Don Bosco.

I am happy to celebrate this Mass with you. In fact I was looking forward to this wonderful opportunity of being with you before returning to my country. I feel glad to be able to share with you some beautiful messages from our Lord and friend, Jesus Christ, and to offer with you the sacrifice of bread and wine which we value as our highest form of worship and thanksgiving to our powerful Creator, whom we Christians call God, and Muslims call Allah.

As I was going around your compound yesterday I noticed how blessed and lucky you are to have very good courses and facilities for your skills training. Back in my country we also have several TVET centers that offer courses on welding, machining, small engine repair, automotive, wood working, just to mention a few. But I am happily surprised to know that you have courses here that we do not have, such as Solar installation, Catering and Hospitality, Cosmetology, Forklift operation, and Crane operation. Some of these courses are still in our wish list but you already have them here in Aishaman.

Aside from this you also have a big soccer field and several basketball courts where you can have wholesome fun at the end of the day plus a good place to eat and sleep without having to spend much. I just think and feel you are super blest to have all these things. What about you? Do you also feel that way? Do you feel you are blest to be here in Don Bosco? …Great! I’m glad to know that. When I return to my country this afternoon I will ask my brother Salesians and friends to pray for you so that you may finish your training here with good marks on your paper and more importantly with good values in your heart.

This is precisely what Don Bosco is here for: to search for young people who are lost, marginalized by society, neglected by loved ones and feeling hopeless and helpless not knowing where to go. Don Bosco is here to fulfil the mission entrusted to us by Jesus. And what is that mission? It is not to punish the bad and the wicked but rather to search for the lost and bring them back to the Father’s loving embrace; to give help to the helpless and hope to the hopeless. You see, it is not punishment but rather salvation to all humankind. The gospel passage we just heard today speaks clearly of that mission, and Jesus reveals it by way of stories, particularly through the parable of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the prodigal son. For today, let me just focus on the first parable, otherwise we might not finish even by lunch time.

In the parable of the lost sheep, the shepherd notices that one sheep of his flock is missing. And no matter how many times he tries to count the number of sheep, the flock still lacks one. What would you do if you are the shepherd? Would you just let that sheep be lost and eventually die of hunger in the desert or be devoured by wild beasts in the field? Hired shepherds would usually do that because they do not really care about the sheep. They are mostly concerned only for their pay at the end of the day. However, according to Jesus, the true shepherd, the one who owns and loves the sheep, would not hesitate to leave the rest of the flock to search for the sheep or the lamb that was lost. And when he finds it he puts it on his shoulders with great jubilation and calls his friends to rejoice with him over the lost sheep he has recovered.

Did you like this story? Those among you, who like this story, please raise your hand. Great! Thank you for your encouraging response. Now do you see yourself in that story? Who among you feels like the sheep or the lamb that has been found by Don Bosco? (Oh there are so many of you. I’m so glad to know.) Now, who among you feels like the shepherd who has been trying to search for the lost sheep? (Oh there are also a good number of you, mostly the Salesians. Wonderful!) If you ask me, I personally feel like the lost sheep found a long time ago when I got enrolled in Don Bosco from pre-school to college up to the day I became a Salesian. Today I feel more like the shepherd who left country and people to see the “lost-and-found” youth here in Ghana. And I am happy to see that so many of you had been found by the Good Shepherd.

Yes, many of you before coming to Don Bosco seemed to have been lost, with no hope for a bright and better future. But now you are here in the caring hands of the Salesians. Whether you might be a Catholic or a non-Catholic, we, Salesians, are happy to see you here in Don Bosco for we truly care about you and your future. And in fact the quality facilities and other benefits that you are enjoying here are like a celebration of life, and a celebration of our friendship with Jesus.

Let me therefore invite you to be happily thankful for this privileged opportunity to be here. There are still so many thousands and even millions of youth out there who are hopeless and helpless, but you are the ones chosen to here so you can have a bright and better future. Finally may I encourage you and challenge you to be the best person you can ever be. Here in Don Bosco young people are being trained not only to have technical skills, but above all they are being formed and educated to have a good heart, to relate well with everybody, to withstand all sorts of trials, and to mature in their faith and trust in the Almighty Creator. May this day of worshipping God be also a day of joy and thanksgiving for his wonderful grace of being infinitely loved by Him. God is good…sobra sobra sobra!

Disclaimer: This section of the website is a personal creative writing of the author and does not necessarily reflect the official views, opinion, or policies of the Salesians of Don Bosco – Philippines South Province. For concerns on the content, style, and grammar of this piece, please contact us.

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