August 9, 2015
ORDINARY 19 (B)
Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from Him comes to me.
– John 6: 45
The following appeared in a New York Times Magazine article. It was entitled, “If I Were a Teacher”:
“If it takes a million dollars a year for a corporate executive to guide a client, lead an advertising campaign, develop a sophisticated computer program or help put a company back on its feet, then what is the worth of a person who takes your child, guides & develops the campaign to educate her, develops her personality & social skills, puts her on her feet & helps her to realize her potential? If I were a teacher who lived up to that challenge, I would be making a far greater contribution than a broker’s killing in the stock market, an attorney’s brilliant defense, a designer’s fabulous fashion achievement or an architect’s latest skyscraper.”
We often talk about Jesus being our supreme teacher, our supreme model for life. We’ve heard this all our life, but for the most part only on a superficial level. We’ve said we will try to follow Christ’s example, but we’ve never actually formed Christ within us.
First of all, if Christ is the model, then it follows that we need to have a working knowledge of the model. But here lies the difficulty: there are countless people calling themselves “Christian” & even attend church with regularity; but they do not even know the basics facts about life in the ministry of Christ. It doesn’t make much sense to call ourselves Christian if we really do not know Christ.
But there is yet another problem: It is possible to know about Jesus, to have a working knowledge of the model, to memorize all His teachings, & still miss the point of the Christian life. As a preacher has observed, “Some of the meanest people I know can quote the Bible backward & forward. They are familiar with the facts but they have never been able to translate the facts into life.” This is what Paul was talking about when he said, “Your attitude must be that of Christ.”
In the famous play (later made into a movie), “A Man for all Seasons,” Sir Thomas More urges a restless underling to become a fine teacher. “And if I were, who would notice it?” asks the ambitious young man. Sir Thomas answers, “You! Your pupils! And your God! Not a bad public, that!”
In today’s Gospel, some are questioning Jesus’ authority to speak for God. No doubt there are many here who do so as well. His response to them: “Everyone who listens to my Father & learns from Him comes to me.” Christ makes the Father known to us, but it is the Father that makes Jesus plausible to us.
For better or for worse, we who call ourselves followers of Christ are engaged in a teaching ministry. Become a fine teacher in the likeness of the supreme teacher, & your family will know it, your friends will know it, & God will know it. Not a bad public, that!” AMEN!