For the readings of today’s mass, go to
The role of the teacher has become a topic of discussion here in our province for a while now. Now that the acrimonious disputes between the province and the teachers’ unions have recently been resolved, still a focus on teachers remains during this time of compulsory on-line learning. The last two months have provided many challenges, such as: The struggles of teachers to communicate with their students using the on-line platforms they are working with: the struggles of parents to motivate their kids to fully participate; and the challenges of teaching and being taught with an overloaded internet system that has frequent disruptions. And no doubt any principal, teacher or parent could add much to the brief list I have outlined.
Throughout human history the role of a teacher has been paramount. In today’s first reading (Acts 17: 15, 22- 18:1) and in our gospel (John 16: 12-15) we see both St. Paul and Jesus in roles of teacher.
St. Paul now finds himself in the great city of Athens, by the Aeropagus. Before he preaches and teaches, he takes the time to survey the environment he finds himself in – for this is where his potential “students” live and gather. Eventually he spots an altar dedicated “To an unknown god”. This altar, which would have been well-known to the people, becomes Paul’s teaching instrument to get and hold the attention of his audience. With that, he is able to get the attention of many, and ends up recruiting some new believers.
Jesus’ role as teacher is a central theme throughout the gospels. In fact He is often called, “Rabbouni”, meaning teacher (see John 20:16 as an example). An important trait of every teacher is to recognize the level that her/his students are at. For example, the wise teacher knows that a student in grade 6 is not going to be capable of learning trigonometry. No, she/he understands what their students are capable of learning and uses the right resources to teach them.
Jesus understood this reality as well. Hence, we hear Him say, “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth;” (verse 13). In my mind Jesus is recognizing that the apostles are at that point in their learning of the equivalent of 1st year university student. But now is not the time to teach them things that would be suitable for graduate school. With more time, and with the help of the Holy Spirit, then they will be able to understand His teachings.
In our prayers today let us pray for all our teachers, students and parents. May the examples of St. Paul and Jesus inspire them; may the intercessions of St. Paul on their behalf be heard; and may the Holy Spirit continue to lead them and guide them. Amen.
Two days ago would have been the 100th anniversary of the birth of Karol Wojtyla, whom we know better as St. John Paul II, who was certainly an excellent teacher. Pope Francis, in marking this occasion, shared some thoughts: