By BISHOP JOHN N. TRAN | Published August 11, 2023 | En Español
“And Jesus advanced [in] wisdom and age and favor before God and man.” Lk 2:52
As students begin a new school year, I feel a bit out of place. This is the first time since I was ordained a priest 31 years ago that I don’t have to prepare for a new school year. Hence, I ask, “Why do we need an education?” A young child may ask his parents, “Why do I have to go to school?” You are probably thinking, “that’s obvious. To learn of course!”
There are more answers than I can count, but why not start with Jesus? In the Gospel of Luke, he travels to the Temple in Jerusalem with Mary and Joseph, and he ends up staying behind to amaze his elders with his knowledge. And yet, once his harried parents find him and take him home to Nazareth, Jesus grew in “wisdom and age and favor.”
Jesus, true God and true man, grew in wisdom. Surely, we need to do the same, and an education is where we begin.
The time we spend in school not only teaches us subject matter, it also teaches us how to live and learn in community. Looking back, I am profoundly grateful to the Salesians for giving me the opportunity to attend their high school in Goshen, New York. They, with the help of their benefactors, gave me a discount on tuition, room and board. They afforded me the opportunity to study and learn the Catholic faith. Those four years of high school away from family were difficult at times, yet they changed the course of my life.
Education is a school for the heart and the head. Although we want to give it our best, to use God’s gifts to the best we can, we also know that grades are not the ultimate goal. Our ultimate goal is to know the Lord, to love and serve him. He who blessed you with intelligence deserves that you use his blessings wisely and well.
Education is the ground where seeds are sown and new ideas blossom. It is the opportunity to flourish with the gifts implanted into your heart and mind. As you go through life, many things will come and go. Many things may even be taken from you—money, status, friends. But a good education can never be taken away. It is a gift for you to cherish.
As Nobel Peace Prize winner Nelson Mandela put it: “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.” It is a gift given to you. Use it wisely and use it well. And always be grateful to those who make the opportunity to receive an education possible for you.
May we all through our education grow in “wisdom and age and favor.”