A few years ago, I was asked to celebrate the funeral of a man who taught in a State High School.
In preparation, I asked the principal of the Catholic High School if he could enlighten me about the man’s career and character.
He told me:
He had the two great qualities of a teacher.
He had knowledge of the subject and passion for the subject.
With knowledge and passion, one becomes the best of communicators. Everything else – curriculum, resources, etc. – is secondary.
The two most noble professions – education and medicine – are critical for the common good. One attends to the needs of the soul, the other the body.
Luke presents Jesus as the teacher, with his Sermon on the Plain (Luke 6). We discover a third quality:
A disciple is not above his teacher, but every one when he is fully taught will be like his teacher.
True teachers are like Jesus.
Being disciples – followers of Jesus – they are ‘the aroma of Christ’ (2 Cor. 2:15).
The great teachers are humble – self-effacing – making present the vast knowledge that has been assembled and bequeathed to us down, throughout the ages.
I experienced this in doctoral studies.
The professor who directed the work was brilliant – a world class philosopher. But he never, ever, referred me to his writings, which were widely published.
During the writing phase, I had altered a paragraph, with subsequent footnote changes. As he read the paragraph and footnotes, he said,
‘Well, I like this.’
To which I responded, ‘You ought to, it’s your own writing.’
‘Oh my God,’ he said, ‘I’m terribly sorry.’
We remember those humble, informed, enthusiastic teachers who have so deeply enriched our lives.
We ask the Lord to send more into the ‘harvest.’