On Tuesday during our monthly “Ongoing Formation for the Newly Ordained Priests,” the topic was how to fulfill the teaching office of the Church as pastor. For example, what should the role of the priest be in PSR, RCIA, Adult Education, Youth Group etc.
Yesterday, I had coffee with a graduate student I had met by accident at a local coffee shop. He asked me what I loved within the many duties of a priest. I told him beyond the sacraments (the obvious answer), I love teaching. I love teaching in the high school, permanent diaconate formation, or adult education.
Through our baptism, we are all called, each in our own particular way, to be teachers of the faith. Sometimes it’s through formal settings, but mostly through deed and example. Such is the case in today’s Gospel. It’s also the case for the Martyrs last Sunday in Egypt.
I’m excited because today I will be able to learn from one of my students from the permanent diaconate formation program as I will witness he and his family participating in the naturalization ceremony, as they become U.S. citizens. I am inspired by the example of hard work and dedication he and his wife have shown their children over the past 19 years they have spent in this country. At the same time not only were they concerned about bettering their own situation, their family, but also that of the Church. They dedicate countless hours each week helping their parish in a variety of ways. Now he is in the permanent diaconate formation program, preparing to dedicate his life to service of the Church. Such selfless love, mixed with great joy, is a powerful and contagious witness. It all culminates today. I’m beyond grateful I get to witness such an event and learn from their witness.
Today’s Gospel challenges us to ask, how do we teach? Through our words? Through our actions? Through our service? Through love? Listening? At different times we will be called to teach in different ways, what is important is that we teach Christ and the Paschal Mystery we prepare to begin this evening, do so faithfully, humbly and with charity.