TEACHING AS JESUS TAUGHT: WE ARE IN CHARGE
In this year 2007, we have already experienced some critical and significant events on this planet. To some it may seem to be a world gone berserk, but for us of hope we witness moments of integration, integrity and transcendence. We foresee a quantum leap in human consciousness. The supreme light of Christ’s glory is being manifested, assuredly more and more in the daily awareness of mankind. Therefore, it is abundantly clear that we are beginning to use our creativity in ways never before believed possible. We have a much better understanding of ourselves, as we are blessed with greater and greater wisdom and knowingness, while continuing to build God’s Kingdom on earth.
Teachers are representatives par excellence of the Creator, blue prints, as a matter of fact, and called upon to activate and reactivate the gifts with which young minds have been endowed by virtue of conception, birth, growth and sojourn in this dimension. These gifts constitute their freedom ride, their joy and exhilaration, to search for, dwell in, and share the House of the Lord.
What then, is the role of educators in this context where integrity, truth and a sense of oneness with all of mankind are the objectives? It is a time of great wonder and excitement as teachers are offered the opportunity to share in and share with the children of God this abundance of joy, peace and harmony which are the precious fruits of Jesus’ work. We are in the Spring time of the transformation of God’s creation, pregnant with the energy of Christ’s grace. From the heart of creation, from within the heart of Jesus, we are challenged to bring forth and give birth to new ideas and fresh visions of the beauty, the bounty and the perfection of God’s Kingdom.
What better example have we than that of Christ, as teacher and Lord? His kingdom is not built on the basis of success in human terms. His dominion is established and prospers on the effort to save the least of his creatures, the lowliest of his children, the scorned, the abandoned and yes, the sinner. It is built on the strength of the widow’s mite. He teaches the power of risk taking; the abandonment of everything in humble pursuit of the lost sheep. Leaving the ninety-nine in the desert, the good shepherd, the good teacher, goes after the one that has gone astray. The safety of the ninety-nine is risked for the benefit of the one.
What enthusiasm do we manifest in our quest for that lost one, the dummy, the retard, the maladjusted, the slow learner, the misfit, the physically, mentally and yes, the spiritually challenged? Herein, is the heart of the Gospel and the life, work and teaching of Jesus Christ. Like him, do we have preferential love for these poor of the earth? Or do we just have time for the beautiful, the smart and the pious? Are we stretching beyond the boundaries to expand God’s Kingdom? Are we enthusiastic about our mission, the mission which establishes us as direct links in developing citizens of an ideal society?
What an awesome and glorious vocation, as we joyfully and enthusiastically (possessed by God) with a passion for compassion, for tolerance and in love, usher in the full realization of God’s Kingdom here on Earth! In this year of transformation, we must see this plan unfolding, and the path beginning to emerge in the direction of a peaceful paradise we all are seeking.
Indeed, we all, along with our teachers must become possessed by God as we usher in the dawning of a new age for our country? Are we are enkindled by the flames of ardor and zeal as we work tirelessly and steadfastly for the transformation of this temporal order into a highly enlightened society? Our mission must be characterized by concrete action in all of those areas in our society where the Spirit of Christ is encumbered by the strangling hold of abortion, the neglect, abuse and abandonment of children, the callused indifference to the mentally ill, the old, the physically handicapped, the imprisoned, the afflicted, the AIDS sufferers, the denial of basic human rights to citizens and aliens and all the other social ills which breed violence, murders, teenage pregnancies, poverty, etc.
In all of these areas, stretching far beyond the four walls of our classrooms, outside the parameters of offices, board rooms and church buildings, we find these lost people--those we are called to touch with our love. By virtue of our work with these will we be called blessed in the Kingdom of God. Personally and through the hearts and minds of those young spirits we train, we carry out this glorious mission.
In the Old Testament, the term ‘shepherd’ seems to be synonymous with the name of teacher in the New Testament. And, of course, teacher is used almost exclusively in reference to Jesus. This same Lord and Teacher, this Good Shepherd who washed the feet of his disciples, commands us to wash one another’s feet. Herein we find discipleship with Jesus.
Sarah Ann McMahan reflects: “Foot
washing is messy business; it means getting down on your knees to mingle with the dirt of the human condition, and doing whatever is possible to try to clean it up with our own hands. It means to be intimately, personally involved in life-giving, compassionate ways in the suffering filth of those who must walk without shoes on the bare paths of meaninglessness and pain.”
This is our mission in the market place. This is where our special charisma as teachers and enlightened citizens must impact the world. We are on the front-line as apostles and we are given this rightful place by virtue of our vocation. How well prepared are we for this; how do we prepare our students for this ministry? We, as teachers, are the indisputable agents of humanization in a dehumanized world. We can justifiably proclaim with Ezekiel:
“I will search for the lost and bring back the strays
. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice.” Ezekiel 34:16
The love, kindness, and compassion we generate as bearers of Christ’s mission, help to disallow the restlessness of the world, the hatred, the bitterness, the violence and the apathy which characterize our times. The state of our society is directly determined by how strong, courageous and healthy minded, informed and sensitive we are. We beg this grace in this prayer, so wonderfully penned by an anonymous enlightened individual:
“From the point of Light within the Mind of God
Let light stream forth into the minds of men.
Let Light descend on Earth.
From the point of Love within the Heart of God
Let love stream forth into the hearts of men.
May Christ return to Earth.
From the centre where the will of God is known
Let purpose guide the little wills of men,
The purpose which the Masters know and serve.
From the centre which we call the race of men,
Let the Plan of Love and Light work out,
And may it seal the door where evil dwells.
Let Light and Love and Power restore the Plan on Earth.”
As educators, modeled after the great teacher, Christ, we must be brave and courageous in the tasks which lie ahead as we elevate those in our charge to a new level of spiritual and psychological growth. We must bring a new dimension to the temporal order, mindful of the fact that Christ did pray for and thus promised God’s Kingdom on Earth. What do we do concretely then in bringing this realization to our youth? We must provide them with social power on par with adults; they too must be about their fathers’ business. Their voices must be heard in their communities. Are we beckoning the little ones into our bosoms?
“He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.” Isaiah 40:11
Youth today are faced with an array of contradictory messages about themselves and their generation. They are seen at once as burdens on society and yet the hope for the future. They are criticized for their apathy, but are given few social responsibilities. They are supposed to conform to adult expectations, but their opportunities for decision making are limited by many social practices. They have been, for too long, excluded from the ministry focused on the Land of Promise.
It is an historic fact that children and young people develop within the context of families, communities, churches and schools with the sense of love and worthiness. As such they must become much more involved as equal partners and valuable resources in building healthy communities. They want to be contributing members, but they need structured opportunities to learn about their community and take on responsibilities. In this manner they will see themselves as vital and necessary. If they are not given meaningful responsibility in the church, in the community, they walk away, only too quickly becoming pariahs on society. We must have them account for their gifts and validate them by their use.
We should be careful about the messages sent to young people. Unwarranted pessimism about their generation, reinforced by negative and false publicity, can damage the confidence they have in themselves and their future. The vast majority of young people do not deserve a reputation for self-destructiveness. Beneath the barrage of ‘youth problems’ is a story of hope and determination in the face of challenging conditions. Rather than point fingers in a condemning fashion at youth, we should ask what institutions are doing to enhance prospects for young people, many of whom are overcoming incredible odds and succeeding.
Developing youth potential means focusing our efforts on creating the positive conditions and individual assets that foster the presence of resilient factors and offset risk factors. We need to concentrate our efforts way from just ‘fixing’ problem kids and toward efforts for creating positive opportunities to develop youth potential. We have assumed the commitment as teachers to ‘walk our talk’. The most significant contribution we can make at this time is to empower everyone who comes into our presence to realize their own divinity as a Child of God, worthy to be a citizen of the Kingdom. Our task, no matter how difficult, is to build this Kingdom, for we are in charge.
All of the pain of crucifixion, we endure in our journey of love, can be transformed in light of this little story with which I will end this reflection.
one occasion, an old Indian healer was taking a refreshing stroll through the forest accompanied by his little grand-daughter. They came upon a struggling deer caught by one leg in the exposed roots of a tree by a running brook. The healer knelt down to free the frightened animal which became even more terrified at his approach. In his attempt, the healer’s arm was badly injured by the hoof of the petrified deer. ‘Grand-father,’ pleaded the little girl, on seeing the blood gushing from his arm, ‘why do you continue to help this animal that has so badly wounded you?’ ‘My child,’ replied the grand-father, ‘we must not cease healing, if in the process we ourselves are wounded.’ ”
About the Author:
Mr. Joseph Darville is a native of Long Island, Bahamas and a resident of Freeport, Grand Bahama.
Teacher [English, French] at St. Augustine’s College in Nassau.
Teacher [French] Senior School Coordinator and Guidance Counselor a Queen’s College in Nassau.
Past Vice-President of the Bahamas Union of Teachers
He is a founding member and past President of the Bahamas Counselor’s
Past President of the Grand Bahama Mental Health Association
Past Vice President of the Caribbean Federation of Mental Health
Founding member and Chairman of Operation Hope, [volunteer drug prevention, education & rehabilitation program]
Co-Chairman of the Bahamas National Drug Council
Founding member and Past -President of Grand Bahama Human Rights Association
Founding member of the Caribbean Human Rights Network
Administrative Vice-President of the Freeport YMCA for three years
He is an Advanced Master/Teacher in Reiki training, a natural energy healing method, as well as a teacher of Transcendental Meditation.
Presently, he is Director of Workforce Development at the Grand Bahama Shipyard. He has received many awards for outstanding service and achievement in teaching, communication, and citizenship.
Joseph can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org