I am struck by two lines in today’s readings, both of which have to do with education.
The first, from the first reading, is “How can I [understand what I am reading], unless someone instructs me?” When my wife and I have our weekly date at our neighborhood coffee shop, we always see two men in fervent conversation. The first time I saw them, I noticed how serious they were. I figured they were probably talking business – perhaps real estate sales. Then I thought maybe they were trying to solve a problem that involved the two of them – perhaps some serious family matter. When I got within earshot, I heard them discussing scripture and their faith. It made me chuckle to myself. Funny how two people in earnest conversation made me think more of business or domestic matters than ones of faith. Unlike the story in the scripture passage, where Phillip became a teacher for the eunuch, the two men at the coffee shop were teachers for one another, a kind of peer-to-peer sharing that makes both stronger in their faith.
I am also intrigued by the line in the Gospel, “They shall all be taught by God.” Of course, this happened in the aftermath of Jesus’ shocking revelation about coming down from heaven and being the Son of God. The disciples were murmuring. The flock was beginning to panic. It was time to get everyone focused on the faith in their hearts and not on the reason in their heads. There is a Christian type of heart-reasoning that sometimes defies the common reasoning that is passed down among generations. This is yet another example of a new world order with Jesus in the center.
I could not help but also look at that phrase in a somewhat irreverent way. We are currently finishing registration for our sophomores-to-be for the fall semester. I’ve had my share of students cross through my doorway to get help figuring out which courses to take. I imagined what would happen if some of our students were choosing courses, and saw God listed as the teacher. (Remember, “They shall all be taught by God.”)
Student 1 – “Hey, look at this history course. [Theology would have been too obvious.] It’s being taught by God.”
Student 2 – “No way. I’ve heard He’s tough.”
Student 1 – “Where did you hear that? I heard He’s fair.”
Student 2 – “He can tell when you didn’t do your homework. And when you didn’t read the chapter. You can’t get away with anything.”
Student 1 – “But maybe God grades on a curve. Maybe He doesn’t sweat the small stuff.”
Student 2 – “How do we know?”
Student 1 – “I guess we could sign up for the course, and then drop it if we don’t get good grades on the first test.”
Student 2 – “Yeah, but do YOU want to be the one that drops God’s course?”
Student 1 – “Better than not signing up for it at all. At least we would give it a shot.”
Student 2 – “Hmmm. I’d feel better if we had a syllabus. We could look it over and find out what He expects of us.”
Student 1 – “As a matter of fact, I do have the syllabus right here in my backpack.”
Student 2 – “For the history course?”
Student 1 – “God’s syllabus is always the same, no matter what course He’s teaching.”
Student 1 reaches into backpack and pulls out –
This is where your imagination comes into play. What is God’s syllabus for you? Knowing this, if you could choose, would you sign up for that course? Think of this time in your life as mid-term. If you were graded by that syllabus what would be your mid-term grade? What would you have to do to bring your grade up over the next few years of your life? Are you ready for the Final? (I’m not! Guess I’d better hit the books, or rather, The Book!)
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