Eighth Grade “Move-Up” Address
Kennedy Catholic High School – 6th June, 2017
Imagine if, this coming Christmas, you awoke and found
dozens of presents lying under your tree – more presents than you ever had in the past; more presents that you ever thought you would receive. Pretend that it is your “perfect Christmas.” Close your eyes and picture it.
Every gift lying under the tree is neatly wrapped with a tightly tied bow around it. The wrapping paper is more colorful than a rainbow. The presents are all different shapes and sizes. Some are wrapped in huge boxes; others are so tiny that they almost get lost among all the other packages.
What kind of gifts are in those boxes? Maybe one box has that drone with the HD camera you’ve been wanting, but could never afford. Perhaps the larger box has a brand new Bose stereo system in it. That tiny box probably has that 14-karat gold necklace in it. One thing is for certain: none of the boxes are filled with socks or underwear – because, after all, it’s your “perfect Christmas.”
Having guessed at what might be in each box, knowing that everything you ever wanted was somewhere among all those presents, imagine how strange it would be if you never took the time to open them. Maybe you were too tired or thought that it might take up too much of your time. Perhaps you thought it would be too much work and would require too much energy. Imagine if you simply decided to leave them all under the tree, untouched and unopened.
It sounds rather ridiculous, doesn’t it? Who in their right mind would willingly decide NOT to open their most prized Christmas gifts? Why would you let such wonderful gifts go to waste?
Imagine that these gifts are neatly wrapped, not under a Christmas Tree, but in your hearts. One of the things that I have enjoyed most about being with you guys is seeing, first hand, the tremendous potential – the incredible gifts– God has given each and every one of you. Some of you have marvelous intellectual gifts, while others have been given gifts of leadership. Some of you have amazing athletic gifts, while most of you have remarkable gifts of serving others.
Like all gifts – whether we receive them from Santa Clause at Christmas or from God from the moment we are born – these gifts must be opened and unpacked in order for you to appreciate and enjoy them. While many of you likely have all of your Christmas gifts opened even before the sun rises, the gifts God has given you take a lifetime to unwrap.
Think of any famous athlete – like Michael Jordan or Kevin Durant, for example. By all accounts, these famous sports personalities have been given extraordinary athletic gifts. Nevertheless, they weren’t born with such incredible talent – their abilities didn’t come easily – Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team, after all.
Rather, they spent many grueling days, weeks, and years, perfecting their gifts – opening their presents. They lifted weights, went running, and worked out for hours every day. They shot hundreds of foul shots and jump shots a day. They practiced dribbling and ball handling for hours on end. Each day, whether they were in the mood or not, they worked to perfect their skills and talents. Ever so slowly – and with a lot of time and effort, discipline and sacrifice – these athletes were maximizing their God-given gifts.
The perfection of your God-given gifts will, likewise, be determined by how much time and effort, discipline and sacrifice, you are willing to give. As you leave the halls of middle school behind you – along with all your fond memories and proud achievements – you embark on a new journey in high school. Be confident that you have been well prepared and that you have been given the provisions and tools necessary for this new stage in your life’s journey. As you take these tools with you, you also take with you the responsibility and the challenge to continue identifying and unwrapping your God-given gifts, of maximizing your God-given talents with the same time and effort, discipline and sacrifice, as a world class athlete.
Whenever we receive a cherished gift – whether from our parents or grandparents, our aunts or uncles – our natural response is one of gratitude, of thanksgiving. As we grow and mature, we come to recognize that all those cherished gifts lying under our Tree on that “perfect Christmas” morning – all the things that we could possibly want in life, and then some – come not from Santa Clause, nor even from our parents, but from God. And so, we gather around this altar, as we is our habit at Kennedy Catholic, and we give thanks to God for our accomplishments and successes of the past, and we are grateful for the gifts and talents we have yet to unwrap – more presents than you thought you would ever receive. Merry Christmas!