School has just begun, and students are back at their books. I was struck recently with the realization that we are all students. Regardless of age, you and I are students of the Gospel. We have a Master Teacher, Christ Himself, and we even have a model student: Mary.
As I was reflecting on Christ the Teacher, I realized that He is indeed the perfect teacher. All of us are privileged to sit at the feet of a perfect teacher. Just imagine if each of your teachers/professors had been un-flawed! How beautiful would the experience have been! Let us take a moment to look at how Christ taught, so that we can learn how to be students. Moreover, let us learn from Him how to spread the Gospel to others!
First of all, Christ knew the importance of parent support. Why do you think He cured Peter’s mother-in-law so quickly after Peter began following Him? We don’t know for sure, but I would like to think that Peter’s mother-in-law became one of the women who ministered to Jesus’ needs during His early life. He also preformed other miracles at the request of parents. This surely won Him the admiration and respect of parents. Sometimes we too act as parents; we feel that we are entitled to a miracle in order to ascertain the worth of our teacher. But, as students, we are entitled to one thing only: Truth. In Mary we see the model of a perfect student but also of a perfect parent. She never got in the way of her Son’s work, but she did encourage and support all that He did. This might be easy when your kid is the Son of God (oh, and He’s perfect), but none the less, Mary had to believe in the skill of the Master Teacher and allow herself to be a student while also a mother.
Secondly, a great teacher gives opportunities for student leadership. Christ was no exception! Time and again we read about the opportunities our Lord gave to Peter. Did Peter do it perfectly? No, and nor do we. But patience is a crucial virtue in the classroom, and Jesus was perfectly patient. We have to always remember that, although our Lord is perfect, we are a Church full of sinners. You and I are not the “Immaculate Exception”. Sorry folks! Mary is the only human being who was spared from the grime of Original Sin, and therefore she was a model of all virtues. We need to look to her to see how to live virtuously in our human condition.
Next, every teacher knows that in order to succeed, there must be discipline. In John 13: 34, we find Christ giving the ultimate classroom rule: “Love one another as I have loved you”. This is not an easy classroom rule to follow, especially when the teacher is Perfection Himself! However, Christ knew our weakness, and so He gave us a remedy: Confession. When was the last time you came before the Master Teacher and acknowledged your inability to follow this commandment? We all fail, at one time or another, to love as He loved.
Lastly, a successful teacher goes above and beyond what is in the textbook. Jesus definitely went above and beyond when He embraced the Cross. It is at the cross, also, that we can turn our gaze to Mary, in order to see how a model student responds to this example. Mary, although stricken with grief, stood at the foot of the Cross full of hope. Yes, we read in Jn 19:25 that Mary stood. She was able to stand only because she believed.
This week, spend some time reflecting upon Christ as your Teacher. Does your Bible, perhaps, match your attic cobwebs? Pick it up and read it! Does your hectic life prevent you from experiencing a moment of silence with God? Stop by the adoration chapel or a cemetery for a quiet minute! Are you frequently in the car for work/pleasure? Try listening to some spiritual talks or books on CD! I challenge you to be creative this week, and sit at the Master’s feet with Mary and all the angels and saints.