By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK
Welcome class of ’84, spouses, families, and friends.
This Mass is the occasion for expressing through faith our gratitude for our years at Fordham and to thank Almighty God for the blessings our formation and education have brought into our lives.
Things have changed a lot since 1984. Don’t they always? There are even new ways of bridging time through memory as I found in my recent experience. Through a smartphone, a post on Twitter by an Italian man, and a video on YouTube on the Internet, all of which did not exist in the 1980s, I viewed something I witnessed firsthand together with many of you in September 1981: the Central Park reunion concert of Simon and Garfunkel.
At the time for me it was a mere “event” and the place to be because 500,000 other people thought the same thing. Now it serves as a window into the past, my past and ours, and with that trip back in time the emotions, even a sense of loss. Confronting the passage of years in any way brings us against the barriers and limitations imposed upon us by time.
We need a bridge over those waters.
Looking back in faith, however, enables us to see even now that Christ was and is the “bridge.” Some of you may remember the Sunday night Masses at 10 pm in the university church crowded with young believers, many of us among them. Another memory, which as we encounter it through time past, shows us that even then the Lord was at work through our faith.
Priests and the Pope are often referred to as a “pontifex” or bridge builder. That is because our role is to serve your faith so that Christ becomes the bridge of our lives, here on earth with Heaven as the goal. There is no greater distance possible than that between here and Heaven and it is one we cannot span by ourselves. God builds the bridge for us if we cooperate with Him through incorporation of our lives in His Son who by dying destroyed our death and by rising restored our life.
The darkest line of that song Art Garfunkel sings so beautifully is, “I’m on your side, oh, when times get rough and pain is all around, like a bridge over troubled waters I will ease your mind.”
As some of you know I have served in the military as a veteran and chaplain for over 20 years now, and one of the most difficult pastoral challenges I faced was to help a widow and her children bury their young husband and father. My grief was great as well because he was a very close friend of mine on board the aircraft carrier IKE as a faithful Catholic man.
Each of us have our own stories to tell of the troubled waters that shake the foundation of our lives and beyond which we must find a bridge if we are to carry on: the death of a parent, spouse, or child. These are so much more real in comparison from the mere ripples that disturbed our very blessed days during our youth here at Fordham: studying for exams or trying to find a date for the senior ball. And the death of our Fordham classmates for whom we pray today in a particular way at the Lord’s Altar.
And that is now where we turn for it is Christ in fact who has been our bridge through faith over troubles great and small, more evident through the lens made possible by our mature Catholic faith and therefore also now the Divine Object of our greater love and worship.
“I’m on your side”: now, more than ever, over 30 years after experiencing that concert in Central Park as a young Fordham student together with so many others, this song is essentially for me about Christ, the “pontifex,” the One who builds the “bridge over troubled waters” through the grace of faith. Today as I celebrate this Holy Mass, a Holy Sacrifice which is also “ours” because we all offer this prayer through the grace of our Baptism, we do so for all of you and for our Fordham College ’84 classmates living and deceased. I rejoice in the faith that bridges every distance forced upon us by time because in Him whom we have believed we touch Eternity.
As we go up to the Lord’s Altar for the Eucharist let us ask that our faith may be in Him, always for each of us this daily and lifelong bridge over the passing waters of time toward His eternity.
Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever. Amen.