In preparation for this Sunday, which is the Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, I invite you to reflect on the Gospel passage that we will read during the Mass this weekend.
“We are all formally students for some time in our lives, and it is best to remain informal students throughout our lives, for there is no point at which there is not something we can learn. At the same time, most of us function as teachers at many points in our lives, some of us professionally but most of us casually, guiding and directing people in ways that might even escape us. We teach by how we live, how we treat people, how we respond under stress, how we reprimand a child, how we help a neighbor, as well as by more concrete and direct ways of teaching.
Some of us, by training and vocation, teach religion and theology, and it is those of us engaged in this vocation who must always remain students in our area of expertise, for Jesus says, “…for you have one teacher, and you are all students.” (Matt 23:8). This teaching is directed at all Christians, but it is a difficult teaching for those called upon to be teachers and instructors, for it is easy to forget that in the things of God we are always students.
It is telling, and especially humbling for biblical scholars, to remember that Jesus did not choose his apostles from among the biblical interpreters or experts in Jewish Halakah (roughly equivalent to canon lawyers today) but from among the fishermen. How could fishermen be teachers in the Bible and Jewish law when they had not been formally trained? What did they know that the experts did not?
What the fishermen knew, or were willing to encounter, was the only true subject: God. The unschooled fishermen knew Jesus, spent time with Jesus, and were willing to learn from Jesus what they did not know. It was not technical expertise that Jesus sought in his apostles but the willingness to encounter the word of God as life-changing and life-giving.
It was the encounter with truth that led the students, the crowds of ordinary people in Galilee, Judea, and elsewhere, to throng around the teacher Jesus; they responded as people hungry to learn the deepest reality about God and themselves. So, “on the sabbath Jesus entered the synagogue and taught.” The religious experts, the scribes, are mentioned, though it seems they are not present, as a contrast to Jesus’s authority. Perhaps the experts hung back, wary of how Jesus’s teaching might affect their livelihood or authority, or because they disagreed that Jesus’s authority was grounded in the Scriptures or God.
Yet, Jesus’s final act in the Capernaum synagogue is the demonstration of the divine ground of his teaching authority,… Jesus healed the man of the unclean spirit, and the people were again “amazed,” referring to this action of Jesus as a “teaching”: “[They] asked one another, ‘What is this? A new teaching with authority.’ ” It is God’s presence and power that is the lesson not only to learn but to encounter.
It is necessary to have teachers in all areas of knowledge, and this includes theology and biblical studies. Expertise and properly ordered authority are essential for all fields. But ultimately we are all students of the one teacher, whose authority is ordered to our salvation and joy. From this school we never graduate; this teacher is always guiding us. This education is perfected for our final purpose: to know God.” (Living Liturgy 2021)
The One Heart, One Soul campaign continues in our Diocese amid the present lockdown, with many parishes in the third wave preparing to begin soon. Since the last time that I provided you with an update, our parish has received 7 new pledges from parishioners. At the present time, the amount pledged by our parishioners is $354,587 (65.4% of our 2017 income and 58% of the campaign goal that we hope to achieve). Thank you to all who support the campaign, which will allow us to address the needs of the church that has been entrusted to us. If you have not yet made a pledge, please consider if you are able to at this time, and if so, submit your pledge card found in your campaign folder to the Diocese.
This week on Tuesday, February 2nd the Church celebrates the Feast of the Presentation of Christ in the temple, which is also a World Day for Consecrated Life. At the beginning of the daily Mass this Tuesday, we will bless candles that can be used at home for private devotions and prayers. Because of the blessing of candles, this feast is often referred to as Candlemas. The candles that we bless on Tuesday will be available in the weeks to come for you to obtain them from the parish office if you would like.
In your prayers please remember our parishioners who have recently passed away: Serafina Bracco, Ezio Carniti and Ann Marie Connolly. Also, we pray for the soul of Silvia Malvestuto, the mother of our parishioner and wonderful volunteer Anna Lemmen. Please keep all these souls and their grieving families in your prayers: Eternal rest, grant unto them O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace.
Join us for the celebration of the Lord’s Day Mass on our YouTube channel this Sunday, and every day (please see the online bulletin which will be published tomorrow for the schedule of all daily Masses and devotions that we pray as a parish family during this lockdown). And please don’t forget to remind children to watch the Liturgy of the Word that is prepared for them on our YouTube channel every Sunday.
God bless, everyone.