Strong in Faith, in Hope, Discerning and Wise

[College Graduation Address.  23 April 2022]

It has been my privilege today to officially confer on you your degrees for the courses you have completed.  You have worked hard for them.  Rejoice in them. 

Bear them both with pride and with humility.  With pride because they do attest to real knowledge, skills and competencies which you have acquired through difficult college years that were benefitted by the K-12 reform and challenged by the COVID 10 pandemic.  You have learned such professions as business management, accountancy, chemistry, nursing, education, philosophy, psychology, architecture, civil engineering, electronics engineering, even aerospace engineering, in some cases with outstanding achievement. 

Bear these, however, also with humility, because no matter how much you have learned, you know that there is much more you could have learned, and, as professions develop, so much that you yet have to learn.  Indeed, where frameworks of learning change, paradigms shift, and modes of production are revolutionized, you know that there is much you may have to unlearn.  No matter how much we may wish a world that is stable, certain, simple and clear, if ever that world existed, it is now gone.  The ongoing wars and real threats of nuclear war, the clashing public policies of polarized politicians, indeed, the confusion of clashing ideologies, some stressing freedom and liberty, others stressing efficiency and expediency, the unmitigated climate change causing devastating weather extremes and catastrophic calamities, the absolute claims of religions for unquestioning obedience or death, and the yet ongoing fourth industrial revolution destroying old professions and creating new, points to a world that is volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. It is a world in which you must continue to learn, adapt, change, rethink assumptions, shift courses, reset targets, collaborating with people and experts you have yet to meet, trust and befriend.  You either deal with this world or you perish. 

That may seem like a lot of pressure.  And your response may be, “Stop the world, I want to get off!”  Instead, where this world is volatile, fall back on your faith, and be strong in your faith.  Faith is a gift.  It is given to you freely.  And freely you must accept it.  Accept that in this world there is a God, that he is good, and that he means well to you.  Remain faithful to this God and he will remain faithful to you.  Remember it was he who first called you to be with him in love.  He is a faithful God.  Where this world is uncertain, fall back on the hope that God gives you with faith.  In faith you know your hope is not only in this passing world.  Ultimately your hope is everlasting glory with God.  But in this hope you know that the trials, tribulations and ordeals you endure in this world themselves generate hope ultimately because you know yourselves loved in Jesus Christ.  Where this world is complex, fall back on the habits of discernment that you have encountered in Ignatian spirituality, testing the spirits in order always in the vuca world to follow the the promptings of the Spirit.  Finally, where this world is ambiguous, be wise – not just with the wisdom of the ancient sages, but with the humility that seeks in life to find what God wills and the obedience to freely accept and do God’s will.

In encouraging you in a vuca world to be strong in the faith, rich in hope, practiced in discernment and imbued with the choicest of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, wisdom, I now invoke the Lord to bless you all…

May the Lord bless you and keep you.
May He make his face shine upon you
And give you Peace.

About Joel Tabora, S.J.

Jesuit. Educator
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