I would like to share what came to my mind as I read the readings for this upcoming Sunday, January 24th. Specifically, my attention was drawn to the first reading, which is from Nehemiah 8:4-10. Please join me in reading this passage of Holy Scripture before continuing, and I encourage you to see what the Lord inspires you to reflect on. You can even write it down, as I did. Share it. Here is what I could capture with my pen:
The call to be a teacher is a great one, for every life is a lesson to be taught; every life a lesson to be learned. Every person from the moment of conception has a message to teach, a prophetic cry to be heard! But, how often are we deaf to this cry? How often do we clasp our hands over our ears to avoid even hearing it? Our world cries out to us, our brothers and sisters scream out to us, and often times, in very hidden, even silent ways. We must pray to learn to perceive these cries for help and deliverance. And, what must our response be? Love – a love based on the Eternal Word, in His speech and in His action, in His voice and in His flesh. How can we convey this Word?
Firstly, by learning how to be teachable; to become teachable. We must always see ourselves as students, ready and eager to learn from the “least” of our brothers and sisters. Secondly, we must take what little we know of Truth and make it accessible to all, as it is. Jesus was not a contortionist. He did not seek to slip into different molds in order to fit into what was socially acceptable or what would’ve been “nice” for His audience. As a great teacher taught me, there is a difference between what is “good” and what is “nice”. Jesus was who He was, and He was at peace with that. Still is. Truth is. On the other hand, we cannot forget that Jesus was and is the most sensitive of men, “a man full of sorrows” (Isaiah 53:3b). No man ever knew man’s needs as well as Jesus. He did not water down His message; instead, He brought all people to the source of it, the well-spring of life, by meeting them where they were and calling them to greatness. We must pray to imitate Jesus in this way – to learn how to proclaim the Eternal Word in all that we say and do. And, when it is time for us to teach, let us fight any temptation to see ourselves as above the listener. We are only handing on what we have received, and how much of a mess we can make of that! Rather, let us see ourselves as lifting up the other, the one who is indeed on the same plane as us by virtue of his or her human dignity, to contemplate the Face of God.
It is only by first seeing ourselves in the proper perspective that we can truly begin to do good. It is only by learning how to listen to the voice of the Lord that we can begin to decipher the voices of our brothers and sisters, and it is only by learning from our brothers and sisters that we can begin to hear the voice of God. Jesus, the greatest of teachers, was the greatest of students. Let us remember too that “no disciple is greater than his master” (Matt 10:24a).
St. Philip Neri, blessed teacher and student of Divine Love, pray for us.
In His Love,
Sr. April Marie