The parable from today's gospel reminds us what a difficult task
it is for the blind to lead the blind. Both will be at a disadvantage,
although one can imagine (and recall) stories of those with physical
impairments who rise above their apparent limitations and do wondrous
things. I don't think Jesus is questioning the power of the human
spirit to overcome such obstacles. I think the focus Jesus calls
us to consider is our spiritual blindness.
As a college professor, part of this reading resonates with me each
year as I see my students (either because of or in spite of my efforts)
develop their intellects and grasp material that before they entered
my courses would have been foreign to them. Guiding them as their
minds open to the breadth and depth of the subject matter we cover
is one of the true joys of my profession.
But again, this is not quite what Jesus means. He reminds us that
although the disciple (student) is not superior to the teacher,
when fully trained every disciple (student) will be like his teacher.
Notice Jesus didn¹t say "the same as" but "like".
This reinforces, for me, that when my students and I finish a course
each semester, I have (I hope) brought them to a level of understanding
and appreciation for the subject (and themselves) beyond where they
were at the beginning of our time together. But each one of them
has a unique understanding and appreciation. Their understanding
is not the same as mine, and so they are like me, but not the same
as me. When I think of my own teachers, past and present, I realize
that no matter how much I learn, their understanding and mine are
different. Even in our common comfort zone I bring something different
to the discussion than they, and they bring something different
And I think the last few lines of this gospel excerpt drive this
How can I teach (or help) someone else until I appreciate my own
presence, my own presents, my own pre-sents, my own challenges?
How can I be teacher if I have not first been a disciple of Jesus,
and of myself? I need to learn from who I am and where I have been.
I need to know what it is that motivates me, and why. I need to
walk with the one true teacher before I can presume to teach others.
I need to be open to my own limits and failings before I can help
someone else with theirs. I need to learn about myself, with the
guidance of Jesus, because the only thing I can truly share is my
understanding and my witness of the message He sends. If I can do
this, if I become "fully trained," I will be like my teacher.
And when I become like my teacher, I will realize that I will help
remove the splinter from my brother's eye, not by physically taking
it out, but by helping him walk the same path as I have, helping
him learn in the same way I have.
And so my prayer today is for the grace to be honest with myself,
to recognize my challenges, and to learn from the path of Jesus
how I can be more like my one true teacher.