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A teacher’s lessons

Learned from my students
 

I have benefited from the gifts of many teachers during my lifetime. Some of them have been of the classroom sort while others have been teachers I have encountered in the school of daily events that are part of living out one’s faith. Because I have realized such gifts from other teachers, I have always had within me the altruistic desire to seek to return the favor in whatever way I might be able to do so.

Each time I step into a classroom setting, I am reminded of the wonderful irony upon which good teaching rests – teachers (if they are honest with themselves) learn more from their students than they could ever hope to impart as they teach. I have found this to be true no matter the setting for my teaching–from grade-school or middle-school religious education to adult faith formation and our diocesan program for ministry formation. Each time I have been the “teacher” I have invariably been taught much more by the “students.”

Just a few weeks ago, I finished a six-week study of the Gospel of Mark with about 100 people in my parish. This was the first time we had ever done a Bible study on this scale. I have to admit that I was a little apprehensive as the group kept growing. Yet from the first night we gathered, I found myself rejoicing in the teacher/student irony. Although many of the participants perceived me as the “teacher,” I came away from each gathering deeply touched by the faith that had been shared so freely and so openly. Our group comprised both men and women. Some were young in years while others were young at heart. Some had participated in other Bible studies, while for others this was their first such experience. All are people who have deep faith in God. Their faith inspired me and I am the better for the experience.

Those six weeks reminded me that I still have much to learn and that God continues to send me a host of very gifted teachers. As a community of faith, the same can be said of our neophytes – those recently welcomed into the church at the Easter Vigil – as well as the many other “teachers” who come our way each day. In cooperation with Jesus, the Teacher, we are presented with myriad opportunities for growth in faith.

Our faith is meant to be a dynamic reality – it is meant to grow, stretch and change through the years. That process of growth does not mean that we leave behind what we learned when we were young. Instead, we build upon it, led to see our relationship with God in faith as something that is always changing, growing and developing. It is, as the Scriptures say, “ever ancient and ever new.” And so our journey in FAITH continues.