Graduation is still tomorrow. Tomorrow, you will be declared graduates of the ADDU’s School of Business and Government. You will receive your diploma. With your relatives and friends, you will be very happy.
But with all of your requirements completed, already today, for all intents and purposes, you’ve made it. At this Baccalaureate, you can give thanks to God for the many graces you’ve received in the past four or so years. Tomorrow you will be grateful with and for your parents and benefactors, your brothers and sisters, who supported you through your college education. But today, in this solemn celebration, you can breathe a special prayer of thanksgiving to God. In life you have called on him many times. In a time of illness. In a family crisis. Before a crucial exam. You know He has helped. As the momentousness of graduation settles in you, a moment of silent gratitude to the Lord is only fitting.
In the past four years on top of your basic education, you have learned many things. Some have contributed to your appreciation of yourself as a human being, as a Filipino citizen, as a child of Mindanao. Others have contributed to your professional development. As graduates of different professional courses in business management, accountancy, entrepreneurship and governance, you have learned skills of managing people and resources towards optimum productivity, the disciplines of managing money, financial instruments and funds, techniques in how to grow businesses to create wealth, and the disciplines of private and public governance. Perhaps, it can be said, as many of your quiet expectations and the expectations of relatives and friends may have suggested, your past four years have prepared you not just to sit passively behind a cash register or to handle a monotonous call-center job. Your past four years have prepared you for leadership. That is leadership in a world of great responsibilities, where on your skill and judgment, wealth can be created not squandered, fortunes can be made not broken, jobs can be created not lost. On your judgment, hopefully, decisions will be right not foolhardy, transactions will be just not unjust, projects will be conformed to God’s law not inimical to it, and all will be in advancement of human well-being not corruptive of it.
This is why at this baccalaureate Mass, even as we thank God for the many blessings he has given you over the past four years, we stand before his altar today in humble supplication. We beg that God hold his saving hand over your lives as business and governance leaders, and that the leaders you become be shaped not by the desire for great wealth or great comfort, but by the mission of your school, its mission to the service of the faith, the promotion of justice, the transformation of culture, dialogue in religious diversity, and the preservation of the environment. We entreat God that all that has been said about ADDU sui generis leadership be true of your leadership, that you not be leaders who lead others merely to self-interest and selfishness, but inspire them to sensitivity for the poor and the excluded and positive cooperation for the common good.
We pray that your leadership be deeply rooted in your faith, in your experience of Jesus in your lives, in him involving you in his mission, in his calling you to be salt of the earth and light for the world. It is on this mission that the conduct of your lives as leaders of business and stewards of wealth must depend. It is a mission that pushes you to love and serve others, to advance their welfare in your business decisions, to care genuinely for the morale of your employees, to promote the welfare of your workers, to serve the genuine interests of your clients, and ultimately, the shared good of the entire community that you serve together.
We beg for this grace, knowing how challenging such a life is. That is clear from our readings. In the first reading the wicked plot among themselves to undermine and kill the person who opposes their wickedness and advances the values of God’s goodness. We pray you do not kill, literally or virtually, the persons in your lives who may represent the values of God or of the common good. We pray that you never be numbered among the wicked. In the second reading, we hear anew how people did not understand Jesus who represented the love and compassion of his Father. Because he was so different from them, they plotted to undermine him and kill him. We pray you never scheme to undermine and kill Jesus in your lives who from within may urge you in your businesses or organizations to do what is right, no mater the cost. We pray that your religion never be reduced to an ideology that preserves you in your insensitivity or meanness. We pray instead that you always be open to the prophet in your decisions, and especially to the urgings of Jesus in your lives.
Today business leaders speak much in terms of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. It is the stormy uncertain climate in which you shall exercise your leadership. That notwithstanding, may your leadership in business be firmly founded not just on profits, favorable ratings and positive surveys, but on hearing the word of God and doing it, discerning the will of God and accomplishing it. “Everyone who hears God’s word and acts on it shall be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rains, fell, the torrents raged, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall because its foundations was on rock”. May the house you build, the empire you found, never fall.
Congratulations on your graduation. May Jesus inspire you in your leadership throughout your lives.