“When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues of fire appeared to them and rested on each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:1-4).
Today we are gathered together in Martin Hall. We invoke the presence of the Holy Spirit. We pray that we may be enflamed by its fire. So that when we think, speak and act, we think, speak and act in the Spirit.
The Spirit, we know, is a spirit of compassion, of love, of self-sacrifice, of hope, of courage. He is the Spirit of the Father who created our world and ourselves so wondrously. He is the Spirit of the Son, through whom the Father loves us and works out our redemption, the Spirit of incarnated divine love for humankind and for each of us individually, love that empties itself, accepting death, even death on a cross. He is the Spirit that the Father and the Son together send us, the Spirit that brings us together in community, so that we may have life, life to the full. He is the Spirit that refuses capitulation to evil, but continues to work in this world for the fullness of the Father’s Kingdom.
It is this Spirit that we ask to work in us as together we begin this new academic year. As the nation introduces Senior High School (SHS) universally nationwide and we warmly welcome it in our Jacinto campus, as the Philippine Province implements its Roadmap 2016 to Mindanao, as the nation has elected a new President from our Davao and our Mindanao, Rodrigo Duterte, we call on the Spirit. For we have heard: “Change is coming. Change is here.” In the Spirit we pray that it may be change for the better, and that we may do our part in making change for the better.
In this context, we pray that we may be renewed in our commitment to implement the Vision and Mission of the University. This we know, is not just a piece of paper decorating our walls. It is the soul of our University. The Spirit breathes life into this soul, makes it a source and measure of our life together as a university community. In our search for truth through research, the Spirit is our questioning, our wondering, our curiosity, our impatience, our demand to know. In our communication of truth through teaching, the Spirit is our patient preparation, our command of our material, our empathy for our students, our commitment that they learn. In our service of the community in truth, the Spirit is our concern for the excluded and marginalized, our thirsting for justice, our concern for the environment. In a parched land, the Spirit is water. In floods and storm, the Spirit is calm. In the wind, the earthquake, and the fire, the Spirit is the gentle breeze.
In organizing our academic disciplines with our teaching and our service to the community, we know the importance of alignment. One who is trained in physics is misaligned in teaching literature. One trained in the social sciences is misaligned in teaching electronics engineering. In academe we must align our activities with our disciplines. But in the Catholic and Jesuit university, we must work to align ourselves, our teaching, our research and our service to the community with the Spirit – so that in the Spirit we can move from non-truth or abstract truth to truth.
One who is complacent in truth, who feels comfortable dishing out the same old re-heated lugaw year in and year out, who feels satisfied in already possessing the truth in old yellowed notes, who no longer feels an eros for discovery and thirst for the whole truth, may need to align oneself to the Spirit.
One who feels that there is no need in a community of scholars to enter into conversation with collegues of other disciplines to understand the challenges of contemporary reality, may need to align oneself to the Spirit.
One who is feeling discouraged and disempowered because of the opposition one is experiencing in asserting one’s convictions may need to align oneself to the Spirit.
One who feels one can form ADDU sui generis leaders on the basis of mere leadership techniques and fancy manipulation of words may need to align oneself with the Spirit. Only the Spirit mediates true insight into the common good; only the Spirit liberates truly from selfishness; only the Spirit forms true commitment to that situation where all in human society can flourish in our times.
The Spirit is the quaking earth in the leader, the wind on his back, the fire in his belly. But it is also the gentle breeze that whispers the wisdom of God. (cf. 1 Kings 19:11-12).
The Spirit is the leader’s need to understand ignorance, deprivation, shelterlessness, landlessness, homelessness, war, rebellion and violence intimately, and take action to overcome it. It is the leader’s righteous anger at an untenable situation; it is his restlessness until appropriate action is taken; it is his courage to engage an opponent against difficult odds, it is his peace as the outcome of personal sacrifice; it is his hope that crowns success. It is his sensing God’s compassion everywhere, in all things: in the child caressing a mother’s face, in a father talking to an estranged son, in a well-educated person taking on the service of the rural poor or the management of an urban environment. It is God’s peace that comes with loving forgiveness (cf. John 20:19-23).
At the beginning of this academic year, when we know that change for the better must be founded on perennial truth, and we know that the power of the human leader must be limited by the rights of human individuals and the will of God, we call on the Spirit, life of our University Vision and Mission, our inspiration, our energy, our courage, our joy. Without the Spirit we are just hollow words – or soulless bodies – desolate victims of arbitrariness and tyranny. “Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful servants. Enkindle in them the fire of your divine love.”