Brothers and Sisters,
Since I have discerned the charism that coincides with the topic of my recent posts, I thought I would share a some thoughts about my experience with the pastor-teacher (PT) charism.
“To the exiles in…[your city]… who have been chosen and destined by God the Father and sanctified by the Spirit to be obedient to Jesus Christ and to be sprinkled with his blood: May grace and peace be yours in abundance.“― (1 Peter 1: 1-2)
“[Kids] don’t remember what you try to teach them. They remember what you are.”― Jim Henson, It’s Not Easy Being Green: And Other Things to Consider
“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.”― William Arthur Ward
“You cannot teach a man anything, you can only help him find it within himself.”― Galileo Galilei
“I never teach my pupils, I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn.”― Albert Einstein
The above quotes were selected from this source.
One of the challenges of the pastor-teacher charism is to be transparent. The pastor-teacher (PT) has failed if he gets the disciples to fall in love with him/her. The goal is to get the disciples to fall in love with God. Human beings often make the mistake of praising or blaming the messenger. The King is the important one not the messenger.
“So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” (2 Cor. 5:20)
The ambassador is not the source of the message, likewise the PT is tasked with accurately relaying the message not with creating the content.
Christ is our great model for the PT. He says in a prayer to His Father, “And this is eternal life that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do.” (John 17:3-4)
Jesus sought to reconcile us to the Father. We, of course, are not part of the Holy Trinity as He is, so the analogy is not perfect, but when Jesus was present on earth in the flesh, He was in one sense the Father’s representative, inviting us to come with Him to His Father’s house. He wants us to love the Father as He loves the Father. That is to return the Father’s love, whose sole reason for creating us was so that He could share a loving relationship with us.
The PT can’t force anyone to come to the party. He/she can tell people about the party, what’s on the menu, how much the Father would like them to be there, and everyone who has already accepted the invitation. In order for the PT to effectively communicate the Father’s desire, he/she must personally share the Father’s desire that the guests come. But even with all that, those invited must still make the choice.
“More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.” (Phil 3:8)
The PT must like St. Paul put on the proper attire for the party. Modeling what we teach is of paramount importance. Above all, knowing the Father ourselves gives credibility to the invitation. Valuing the invitation above all else, is not something that can be presented convincingly with mere words. The potential guests will pay more attention to the “things we have lost (or left behind)”, than they will to fancy words and platitudes.
In order to help invitees believe what the PT is saying about the party, the PT can make it easier by gathering some others who have been invited and some that have accepted the invitation. Maybe this is like a little mixer before the party to take away the excuse that the invitees won’t know anyone there. If they know some of the other guests before they get there, they will be much less apprehensive about the party. Maybe the mixer can even take on some of the characteristics of the party. If they like the mixer they will love the party. If the love of the Father is evident in those that have accepted the invitation to the party, those who have never experienced the Father’s love will at least have an idea how great it is.
Unfortunately, the road to get to the party is not without perils. As a matter of fact, it can be positively deadly. If we are to successfully navigate this road we need to be certain that we will find there what has been promised. St. Ignatius of Antioch in his letter to the Romans says as he is preparing for martyrdom, “I am writing to all the churches to declare to them all that I am glad to die for God, provided you do not hinder me. I beg you not to show me misplaced kindness. Let me be the food of beasts that I may come to God. I am his wheat and I shall be ground by the teeth of beasts, that I may become Christ’s pure bread.” It is obvious that Ignatius has had such a powerful encounter with God’s love that he does not care at all what becomes of him, so long as he gets to join the feast.
Lord, grant us a love of You that burns so brightly that getting ourselves and others to the Your eternal feast is all that matters.
Peace of Jesus,