A Note From Fr. Timothy
Graduation and Pentecost
This is the time of year for a number of graduation celebrations in many families and schools – whether it be graduating from college, high school, elementary school, or even pre-school. We acknowledge the transition for those students as they move on to another stage in their lives. This transition is often out of one building and into another. Many times it involves expanding into a larger community – there are usually more students at an elementary school than pre-school, high schools are often larger than elementaries, and college campuses can be quite expansive with thousands of undergrad and graduate students. And after all schooling is complete, there is an even bigger field waiting – the job market and the world as a whole.
Celebrating graduation helps us recognize the role those institutions of learning have played in our lives and how they have helped shape and prepare their students to be confident and successful in whatever they choose to do. It also acknowledges the effort those students have put forth to complete their tasks and receive their degrees.
In many ways, Pentecost is like a graduation for the Apostles. They have been disciples (learners) at the feet of Jesus for probably about three years. They have been shaped by his teachings and the time spent with him. They have participated in his work, sharing their gifts and talents with others. Now, after the Ascension, they are told to wait for the gift of the Holy Spirit. And the Spirit comes to them at Pentecost, confirming them in all they had done and been taught. It is like their diploma on the wall that helps them have the confidence and the authority to transition out of the classroom and into the world as leaders and teachers.
Just as graduating students often are sent out into a larger field, so the disciples were tasked to go and preach to all of creation (cf. Mk 16:15) – you do not really get a bigger field than that! The Acts of the Apostles records how they quickly went from a very small group, hidden and afraid, to larger and larger communities in more and more places around the world. The Apostles understood that the gift they had received was not meant for themselves only. It is only by sharing that gift of the Spirit that its positive effects for individuals and societies can grow and prosper.
We pray that all graduates may recognize and respect that reality as well. They have received a gift and worked hard to obtain it, but if they use those talents only for themselves in a selfish, me-first way, they will never be fully satisfied and the world will surely not be a better place. Only by considering the other and working for their good can we fully experience the joy we were created to know. God created us for love, and when our jobs and lives can reflect that truth, we also make the world around us a more positive place.
May all graduates receive the Spirit of God in abundance and graciously and humbly work in service of truth and goodness wherever that Spirit may lead them. May they be kept safe from all harm to body or soul, and after their time on earth rejoice with the Apostles and all the saints in heaven. Amen.
Fr. Timothy Gapinski