Saturday, September 2, 2017

22nd Ordinary Sunday, Year A, 03.09.2017

Jeremiah 20:7-9 / Romans 12:1-2 / Matthew 16:21-27

Last week, the primary and the secondary schools celebrated Teachers Day. Officially, Teachers Day is on the first Friday of September. But because last Friday is a public holiday, the school holiday is on Thursday and so Teachers Day is celebrated on Wednesday. (sounds rather complex)

But whether it is on Wednesday, or Thursday, or Friday, it doesn’t really matter to teachers. Because only Sunday is a teacher’s day of “rest” – rest of the laundry, rest of the housework, and mark the rest of the papers.

On Teachers Day, the teachers would get gifts from their students, and get all sorts of gifts. So what would be a meaningful gift for a teacher? A candle would be meaningful, because a good teacher is like a candle – it consumes itself to light the way for others.

It is said that teaching is a profession that teaches all other professions. But teaching is not just a profession or a job. Teaching is a pillar of society, and we acknowledge that teachers make up that pillar of society.

A rather funny way of looking at a secure profession is to be a history teacher, because in the future there is so much of it to teach. 

Teaching children to count is also good. But teaching them what really counts is best. (Bob Talber)

So is all this a promotion of the teaching profession? Maybe yes, and yet maybe not really.

Yes, teachers are always needed and teaching is a demanding profession. But we may also recall that Jesus was often addressed as “Teacher” and indeed He is the Teacher, and He did acknowledged Himself as a teacher. Jesus Himself used the term when He said, “You call me Teacher and Lord, and rightly so, for that is what I am.” (John 13:13).

In the gospel, we see Jesus showing what it means to be a teacher. He gave a teaching about being His disciples and taking up the cross. He also taught the values of life and what really counts in life.

He also showed His firmness as a teacher when He sharply reprimanded Peter about being an obstacle, because the way Peter thought was certainly not God’s ways.

Jesus was a teacher who taught with a difference and He taught with authority. Jesus was a teacher who wanted to make a difference in the lives of people as well as in our lives.
There is a story that at a dinner, the guests were sitting around the table discussing life.  One man, a CEO, decided to explain the problem with education. He argued, "What’s a kid going to learn from someone who decided his best option in life was to become a teacher?" He reminded the other dinner guests what they say about teachers, "Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.
To emphasize his point he said to another guest; "You’re a teacher, Mary.  Be honest. What do you make?" 
Mary, who had a reputation for honesty and frankness replied, "You want to know what I make?" She paused for a while, then she began. 
"Well, I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could.  I make a D student feel like a diamond that needs to be polished."

"I make kids sit through 40 minutes of class time when their parents can’t make them sit for five minutes without an iPad, or Playstation or Xbox, or glued to their mobile phones."   

She paused again and looked at each and every person at the table, and continued, "You want to know what I make?" 
- "I make kids wonder." 
- "I make them question."
- "I make them apologize and mean it." 
- "I make them have respect and take responsibility for their actions."
- "I teach them to write and then I make them write. Keyboarding isn’t everything."
- "I make them read, read, and read books that are good."
- "I make them show all their work in math.  They use their God-given brains, not the man-made calculator."
- "I make my classroom a place where all my students feel safe."
- "I make them understand that if they use the gifts they were given, work hard, and follow their hearts, they can succeed in life."

Pausing one last time, Mary continued, "Then, when people try to judge me by what I make, with me knowing money isn’t everything, I can hold my head up high and pay no attention because they are ignorant.  You wanted to know what I make. Well, I make a difference.”
"What do you make, Mr. CEO?" The CEO was stunned, and he was silent. 

Good teachers want to make a difference in the lives of their students. They teach them good values and what really counts and really matters in life.

Good teachers follow the example of Jesus who came to seek out and to save what was lost and to make a difference in our lives.

Jesus taught us to think like God and not to think in the ways of the world. So like a candle that consumes itself to light the ways for others, we take up our cross to serve others and lead them to Jesus who will teach them about life. 

In one way or another, we are all teachers. Teachers teach best not by words but by examples. As disciples of Jesus, we too teach best when we carry our crosses.

The cross carried with love will make a difference in our lives and in the lives of others. Jesus carried His Cross and with His Cross He made a difference in our lives.

It was on the cross that Jesus gave His greatest teaching. Let us also carry our cross and follow Jesus our Teacher. And let us also teach others how to follow Jesus.