Postgraduates in the Spirit

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Scholarships available for all

Around this time each year, hundreds of young people graduate from our high schools and universities, celebrating their recent achievements with great splendor. The majority know that nowadays it’s not enough to get to this point if they want to find a good job that will give stability to their immediate future. Many decide to obtain a postgraduate degree.

Before the feast of Pentecost, around these same dates, throughout the archdiocese, we celebrate hundreds of young people who receive the sacrament of confirmation, that is to say, the anointing of the Spirit that commissions them as apostles throughout the whole world. Are they sufficiently prepared for it, or do they need a postgraduate degree in the spiritual life?

Bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral degrees and additional specializations are required in order to compete in our society. Education centers are continually revising their programs, staff and facilities in order to rigorously fine tune the quality of those enrolled, because their graduates carry the name and history of the institution that prepared them.

The globalization of the sciences, technology and the standardization of our social customs are an enormous challenge to our newly graduated apostles: With the discovery of the human genome, today we are able to alter genetics that make it possible to select physiological characteristics, change gender, and even attempt to clone, with an endless number of grave moral consequences that follow from this uncontrolled development. Will our newly graduated be up to the challenge?

The first disciples that graduated from the school of Jesus were sent out only when he, the wise Master, knew they were sufficiently trained to face every challenge: “He said to them, ‘Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned. These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will drive out demons, they will speak new languages. They will pick up serpents [with their hands], and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them. They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.’” (Mark 16:15-18)

Jesus the Master knew the enormous difficulties that his graduates would face, and that is why he personally dedicated three years to teaching them the truth of his doctrine by his own life and daily example. Like a seasoned expert, he knew how to identify each one’s potential, and he pushed them to obtain their postgraduate degree. A doctorate in the Spirit.

From the height of the cross and the depth of his heart, Jesus sent to them, and later to us, payment covered, the best thesis advisor: his Holy Spirit.

That expert Director made it possible for the disciples to elaborate new theses of wisdom in order to choose what is best above all that is good; new theses of intelligence in order to discover the truth amid the fallacies and sophisms of our societies; doctoral theses of knowledge in order to extract the best of each mind and heart; innovative theses of counsel in order to scrutinize and discern the personal and common mission of everyone in this world; audacious theses of fortitude so that we never give up or fall into conformism or indifference; theses of humble piety in order recognize that we will never have the last word or the adequate universal response so we will be patient and compassionate with the other disciples who are just as slow to learn as we are; cautious theses of fear so that we know the risk of betraying or forgetting the teachings received from the sublime Master.

That wise Director desires that all of us obtain a doctorate just like Mary who was the most fervent disciple in that glorious school. Her doctoral thesis was about the omnipotence of faith, the authority that comes with joyful service, the liberating power of loving forgiveness, the immense fruitfulness of obedience and the unlimited vision of that which makes us grateful for life.

A doctorate of the Spirit will make us capable of dominating the serpents of greed, vanity or lust. It’s the kind of doctorate that will enable us to speak the languages of forgiveness, tenderness and hope with ease. That kind of doctorate will permit us to heal those sick with rancor, envy or bitterness. I have had the privilege of seeing many physical signs and miracles — healing from cancer, freedom from paralysis, etc. — but I have seen even greater miracles: the healing of minds and hearts of those who had been living with rancor or bitterness, and their transformation in joy and freedom.

There are scholarships available for all those who receive a certificate of baptism. The teacher knows what kind of disciples we are and how much can be expected of us. He wants to send us out into the world so that with great pride we can make known the name of the teacher who educated us. In that way, others will want to graduate from the school whose alumni perfect the minds, bodies and hearts of humanity as they continue their education.

Let us obtain a doctorate in the Spirit. Let us not forget that there are free scholarships for all.

Sincerely, a disciple among you.

Read the Spanish version of this column.

Northwest Catholic - June 2017

Bishop Eusebio Elizondo

Eusebio Elizondo, M.Sp.S., is auxiliary bishop of Seattle and vicar for Hispanic ministry.