Back in February, a line from the Scriptures struck me as I prayed with the Gospel of the day in preparation for Mass. In the New American Bible translation, which is used for the Mass readings in the United States, the line reads, “He began to teach them many things.” But here in Ireland the Jerusalem Bible translation is used for Mass, and so the different wording of this line jumped out at me. “He set Himself to teach them at some length.” At that time, I was still very diligently trying to keep my New Year’s resolution to grow in gratitude and to really carve out time every day to spend time praying in thanksgiving. It was a constant temptation to shorten the time or skip it all together or do something else with my prayer time. It seemed like these words were for me. I felt the Lord was letting me know that He was willing to teach me at some length regarding gratitude if I was willing to spend time learning at some length.
Although in the world of education there can be other factors and requirements, in general the teacher is the one to prepare the lesson plans, determine what to cover, decide how in-depth to go and plan how much time to spend on a topic. The student’s responsibility is to show up for the lessons, be on time, prepare well, and come with a readiness to learn. I have a distinct memory of a homily one of our friars gave at the reception of our postulant brothers a number of years ago. He spoke of the importance of “learning how to learn,” and he seemed to be saying that this was an essential disposition for our lives. For me it was a new concept. I had, up until that point, generally approached learning as a means to acquire an end (my engineering training fit well into this mindset), but cultivating an ongoing posture or disposition of being in the process of learning, this was new!
As these days of pandemic continue, this line from the Scriptures resounds even more loudly for me. Do you also feel the Lord has set Himself to teach you at some length? We can easily lose interest in a topic, become weary of the effort to learn, or allow ourselves to waste time on distractions…. Or we can take up the challenge of this very unique time! The lessons are profoundly rich, and the content is provoking and challenging, but the daily integration of His teaching is our life’s Magnum Opus. We all have the opportunity to further our “education” during this pandemic, we can “enroll” in the “classes” that are being offered by the Lord. He is willing to teach us at some length. In my favorite passage in the Scriptures, Jesus says, “Come to Me…learn from Me…” (Matthew 11:28-29). Are you up for it?
See you at the feet of The Teacher!
Sr. Kelly Francis, CFR