Honoring those in Education
Apr 16, 2018
When the Founding Fathers of this country spoke about the necessity of providing youth with good education, the emphasis was on making them good citizens who could then contribute to and improve the welfare of the newly developing country.
Benjamin Franklin once said: “The good Education of Youth has been esteemed by wise Men in all Ages, as the surest Foundation of the Happiness both of private Families and of Common-wealths. Almost all Governments have therefore made it a principal Object of their Attention, to establish such Seminaries of Learning, as might supply the succeeding Age with people qualified to serve the Publick with Honour to themselves, and to their Country.”
More than just helping to provide a good education, more important than the role politicians were assuming to build up this nation, it would be the role of teachers to instruct and inspire youth to be productive members not only of this country, but beginning in their own homes, productive and generous servants of humanity.
As so many men and women would sacrifice themselves on the field of battle to ensure our freedom, so many men and women would be on the front-lines of education, helping youth to discover their innate goodness and how best to place that goodness with all its talents and skills at the service of others.
And who better to thank for so precious a vocation as teaching than God. As Jesus said to His disciples: You call me teacher and Lord and rightly so, for that is who I am. In one and the same breath, Jesus identifies Himself as both teacher and God, not as in what He does, but more important…who He is…therefore, with the exception of parenting, can we imagine any more vital role than teaching?
The whole point of knowledge is to produce both meaning and purpose in our lives. What makes our lives so incredibly significant is not where we come from or our economic status, but that we are all created in the image and likeness of God. From the Declaration of Independence:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. And there is no greater happiness that anyone can attain than everlasting life and liberty.
Perhaps these men borrowed from the wisdom of Saint Paul who appreciated the equality of all people: For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all, enriching all who call upon him.k 13For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”l
But in order to achieve so wonderful a goal, like graduation, we need great teachers. And who better to teach us how to attain Heaven not only in the next life but bring a good dose of it to this life than Jesus who came down from Heaven, He who is God, who in becoming Man could best instruct us in how best to be like God by being the very best human being we can be?
As Saint Paul further insists: 14* But how can they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how can they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone to preach?m 15And how can people preach unless they are sent? As it is written,n “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring [the] good news!”*
How beautiful too are the hands, hearts and minds of all teachers then whose instruction bring the good news to their students of their exceptional dignity and potential?
There is no greater teacher than Christ because more than getting into a good college or securing a well-paying profession is achieving the goal of salvation. Failure here or dropping out of Church is not an option except the nuclear option whose tragic result is utter self-destruction.
Contrary to public opinion and Saint Peter who we heard today: ignorance is not bliss, in fact it is extremely harmful and can be fatal: You denied the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. The author of life you put to death, but God raised Him from the dead…I know that you acted out of ignorance.
And today Saint John reminds us how we can best know God…keep His commandments…but we of course must learn what they are. Those who say I know Jesus but do not keep His commandments are liars.
How can a scientist or mathematician better understand the workings of the universe unless they know and can properly apply certain commandments called formulas and equations? How can those in the medical profession best apply their trade of healing unless they too learn the rules of medicine?
On the night of the Last Supper Jesus actually combines all Ten Commandments into 1, saying Love one another as I love you. He says this so that “my joy might be in you and your joy might be complete.”
But in order to love as He does…we must know who Jesus is…who says that I am the way, the truth and the life…Truth is what feeds the mind as love is what feeds the heart…and His truth leads us in the way of everlasting life which is the life of God who is pure and eternal Joy: That my joy might be in you and your joy might be complete.
And this is what occurred with the disciples in today’s Gospel who are recounting to the others what happened to them on the Road to Emmaus.
And it happened that, while he was with them at table, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?"
Or from today: "These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled." Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.
This is what teachers do…they not only open minds but set hearts on fire by way of their inspired teachings. But Jesus provides us with more than just words to open our minds…
He is the Word Made Flesh now risen from the dead…that same power is given to us not only by way of receiving faith instruction…but more incredibly so, by receiving the fullness of God’s love by way of the Holy Eucharist…which nourishes at one and the same time…our hearts, minds, souls and bodies…
That our eyes and hearts might be opened as we recognize Jesus in the breaking and receiving of the Bread of Life: that my joy might be in you and your joy might be complete.
I was born the first moment that a question leaped from the mouth
of a child.
The names of those who have practiced my profession ring like a hall
of fame for humanity...Booker T. Washington, Buddha, Confucius, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Leo Buscaglia, Moses and Jesus.
I am also those whose names and faces have long been forgotten
but whose lessons and character will always be remembered in the accomplishments of their students.
I have wept for joy at the weddings of former students, laughed with
glee at the birth of their children and stood with head bowed in grief and confusion by graves dug too soon for bodies far too young.
Throughout the course of a day I have been called upon to be an
actor, friend, nurse and doctor, coach, finder of lost articles, money lender, taxi driver, psychologist, substitute parent, salesman, politician and a keeper of the faith.
Despite the maps, charts, formulas, verbs, stories and books, I have
really had nothing to teach, for my students really have only themselves to learn, and I know it takes the whole world to tell you who you are.
Material wealth is not one of my goals, but I am a full-time treasure
seeker in my quest for new opportunities for my students to use their talents and in my constant search for those talents that sometimes lie buried in self-defeat.
I am the most fortunate of all who labor.
A doctor is allowed to usher life into the world in one magic moment.
I am allowed to see that life is reborn each day with new questions, ideas and friendships.
An architect knows that if he builds with care, his structure may stand
for centuries. A teacher knows that if he builds with love and truth, what he builds will last forever.
I am a warrior, daily doing battle against peer pressure, negativity,
fear, conformity, prejudice, ignorance and apathy: But I have great allies: Intelligence, Curiosity, Parental Support, Individuality, Creativity, Faith, Love and Laughter all rush to my banner with indomitable support.
And who do I have to thank for this wonderful life I am so fortunate
to experience, but you the public, the parents. For you have done me the great honor to entrust to me your greatest contribution to eternity, your children.
And so I have a past that is rich in memories. I have a present
that is challenging, adventurous and fun because I am allowed to spend my days with the future.
I am a teacher...and I thank God for it every day.
And we thank God for all you educators every day…especially this day.