This is the Salutatorian Address, delivered by Peter Grifoni, at CCA's commencement ceremony on June 10, 2017.
Head of School Andrea Bergstrom, Dr. Ryan Plosker and Members of the Board, faculty, students, family, and friends. Thank you for lending me you ear. Please listen now to the words of Jesus as recorded by Luke in chapter 12, verses 16-21 (ESV).
16 And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, 17 and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ 18 And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”
As Mikey and I considered what to speak about in our Valedictory and Salutatory addresses, Mikey, the smarter of us two, claimed the subject of our classmates and our good times together. Because he choose to speak about the past, it fell to me to consider the future of our graduating class. And our future is very bright. We have had hard working parents to pay for our schooling, excellent teachers to prepare us for higher education, and have all been accepted into fully accredited colleges. From the worlds perspective, we are on the perfect course to lead successful and happy lives. By successful I mean comfortable and happy I of course mean wealthy. Ah yes, we are all lined up to acquire a great deal of wealth. Money that is, loot, cash, dough, cheddar, gravy, bread… pick your term, just imagine having a great big pile of it!
But who cares? Seriously. Even if Riley becomes an Oscar winning Hollywood actor, and Alex becomes a pioneer in the fields of medical science, and Kevin acquires tons of money through a heist of some casino like a Brazilian George Clooney.... it does not change the facts. We will all grow old and grey. We will lie, dying in hospital beds, and eventually expire. Our names will fade into obscurity as the decades and centuries of humanity roll on without us. At that point, our big barns won’t do us much good.
Please do not think that I would use my salutatory address to discourage my classmates from seeking success. I also do not aim to criticize those who are successful. What I do want to do is encourage my fellow graduates and any other future graduates present today to be storing up treasure in the right kind of barns.
Matthew Chapter 6 verses 19-21 say, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Rather than trying to build bigger barns so that we can be healthy and wealthy here on earth, we need to be investing in eternity.
Our Lord Jesus has given us an immeasurable gift in salvation. Because of what Jesus did on the cross, we have been welcomed into the Family of God. We certainly can never pay for this gift we have received. However, we can give him our lives. As Jesus says in the parable of the man with the big barn, we need to be “rich towards God.” And there’s no time to loose. Don’t say, when I am a successful missionary, or doctor, or detective, or teacher, or actor, or mathematician, or businessman, or writer, or engineer, or computer scientist, or soldier, then I will serve God. If you think that way, you may find yourself building bigger and bigger barns. Instead serve now. Give generously of your time, money, and energy. Be diligent in your prayers. Work hard hear on earth, for this is good, and dedicate all the work to the King of Heaven, where your true treasures lie. As it says in Proverbs 16:3 “Commit your work to the Lord, and you plans will be established.”