By Fr. Roy Cimagala
WE should be clear about this. The best teacher we can have, the ultimate one, the one that teaches us everything and in the proper way is Christ. When we have to carry out the task of teaching, we should see to it that we always teach with Christ, in Christ and for Christ.
We are reminded of this truth of our faith in that gospel episode where Christ entered a synagogue on a Sabbath and taught. The people were amazed at his teaching because, as they claimed, “he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes.” (cfr. Mk 1,21-28)
Later on, their amazement even grew some more when with his words, he drove out an unclean spirit from a possessed man. “What is this?” they exclaimed. “A new teaching with authority. He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him.”
We should be wary of our tendency to teach simply on our own authority, or on the basis of some ideology or philosophy, etc. This tendency arises when we think that what we are teaching are simply mundane matters like our sciences, technologies and ideologies. We tend to think that Christ, that God, has nothing to do with it.
This is when we have to remind ourselves that everything that we use as subject of our teaching comes from God and is meant to lead us to God. There is nothing that is a subject for teaching that does not come from God.
Christ, and the Church now, may not be directly involved in the technicalities, but there is no doubt that it is God who created everything, including the technicalities, imbuing it with their proper laws. What we do is simply to discover these laws with their technicalities, sometimes coming out with certain inventions and innovations.
But we should not forget that in using these laws and technicalities to achieve a certain good for man, we ought to thank God for them and to glorify him through them. Failing in that regard constitutes failure in teaching.
Thus, a good teacher is one who manages to relate the things he teaches, no matter how technical and mundane, to God and to others. He should inspire the students to love God and others more through the things he teaches. The things he teaches should bring students closer to God.
Failure in this crucial point would expose the things taught and learned to the dynamics of merely worldly values that are very vulnerable to being used and exploited by evil spirits or to being used as means for self-indulgence, the antithesis of love.
This is actually what is taking place these days. We have quite progressed in terms of knowledge. Our sciences and technologies are practically bursting with new developments and possibilities. We are having an overload. But without charity inspiring them, they can easily be misused and abused. Let’s remember what St. Paul said once: “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.” (1 Cor 8,1)
A good and ideal teacher, let’s reiterate it, always manages to relate the things taught to God and to inspire his students to love God and others through these things. The lessons he teaches are not merely technical things, or intellectual or theoretical affairs. He manages to link them to the abiding providential action of God.
In other words, while he is most rigorous in the technical and intellectual aspects of the lessons taught, his teaching is such that piety is not impaired or forgotten, but is rather, in fact, fostered!