Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Scripture Readings: Sir 27:4-7; 1 Cor 15:54-58; Lk 6:39-45
“No disciple is superior to – the teacher”, but “when at last fully trained, every disciple will be like his teacher.” How interesting to note that in this gospel, “The” teacher, to whom no disciple is superior, is promised in time to become “his” teacher. “The” teacher, it would seem, refers to that unapproachable wielder of power and authority whom we all naturally fear, (and maybe secretly despise). But, this Teacher, Jesus says, is to be my teacher: eventually, a cherished mentor with whom I will experience an intimate, personal relationship.
My teacher, whom I as a disciple am destined to be like, is a gentle shepherd. This is a teacher in whom I have the profoundest trust; someone I have handed over my very self and my personal destiny. So, who is that? Who is that person for you? Do you know someone like that? Who, in your life exercises, not just official authority to tell you what to do and punish you if you don’t, but exercises real moral authority and who you feel answerable to on the strength of their manifest goodness, wisdom, and love? Do you know someone like that?
Will you say it is Jesus himself? He has ascended to heaven. He is not here. It is evidently his will that certain human representatives stand in for him in whose persons his personal presence; his strength, wisdom and love are mediated to you. Have you met him or her? Have you met such a person? I’m pretty sure you know this person. He or she is, after all, the most important person in your life, though you may not be able to tell me the person’s name. Here is a way for you to identify “your” teacher; the mysterious and supremely important mentor in whose hands, the Lord has placed your destiny. Ask yourself: “Who are you crucifying?” Who do you crucify in small ways every day? Who is it who knows you fully as the sinner you are, and whose love, fidelity, understanding, and patience is so manifest a reality in your life, for so many years, that you never think about it anymore? Who is routinely taking the nails of your thoughtless and harsh remarks, without ever returning a harsh word? Whose forgiveness do you tell yourself is actually weakness on their part; confirmation of your own superior strength and intelligence; of whom you say: “It is no great surprise he doesn’t retaliate. He is a wimp.” Who is it to whom, having said something disrespectful and cruel, you see glance at you, for just an instant with a look of disbelief, astonished that you could have said that, and not realize how it touched his very heart like the point of a nail – and then adverts his eyes, and makes no answer. Whose forgiveness, offered seventy times seven times, are you drawing from a spool like dental floss every day, using and throwing away, and who never asks for equal consideration?
That person is – your Teacher. It is the Lord. That person is THE teacher, whom Jesus has provided to be YOUR teacher; your mentor. Know that you are in no way superior to this person. Compared to this person, you are an unlovely hack, a selfish ungrateful child. But when that beloved mentor of yours has quietly and un-dramatically spent every last drop of blood in him for your sake, and at last you recognize who he is, then, humbled and amazed that the Unbegotten should be found standing that close to you, you will be at last what Jesus calls “fully trained”, and being fully trained by Jesus, just imagine: you – even you, you scoundrel, will be like him.