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The Eucharist and Catholic Education

A Biblical verse that can kind of haunt you, if you’re a teacher, says, “for he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.” (Matthew 7:29)  I have this image of someone proclaiming with great fervor: “for he taught them as one having authority, and not like that tedious, boring Prof. Smith.”  I feel bad for the scribes. I mean, how do you compete with Jesus?  You’re a scribe (or professor); you work hard; you study for hours on end; and then people think less of you because you were outshined by God incarnate?  Am I supposed to feel bad if Michael Jordan beats me in basketball too?

To be fair, Christ says later of the scribes: “do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do.”  Okay, now that’s good advice.  And then there’s His warning: “you are not to be called teacher.” (Matthew 23:8)  Okay, I’m called professor.  But that’s probably worse.

Søren Kierkegaard once compared Socrates and Christ by noting that while Socrates claimed to be a “midwife” of truth, midwifing his students to give birth to the truth inside themselves – which is what we human teachers are supposed to be and do – Christ is “the Truth.”  In His teaching, there is a dramatic unity between the teaching and the teacher. Christ is the heart of what is being taught.  So, for this reason, we human teachers can never measure up to Christ.  He has “authority” because He is the Author of all Creation.  I merely talk about God; He is God.  Thus everything I teach should point to Him.

But if He is the Author of all Creation, then it’s not just in theology that we are ultimately talking about God.  What is revealed to us in the Genesis Creation accounts and confirmed decisively by the Incarnation is that all creation is “incarnational” or “sacramental”: it is an embodiment and an instrument of God’s love.

So while it is certainly not the case that theologians should tell chemists, biologists, or physicists how to do their work, it is acceptable for teachers in all these disciplines to remind students that they are studying the handiwork of God, written, as it were, in the Book of Nature.  Thus a Christian would never fudge the data of science for his or her own gain or glory because this would be to lie about what is in the Book of Scripture.

So when a student says to me, “I hate math,” I say: “But one of the languages of the universe is mathematics.  It is the language God uses to help us understand the order of things. If you have ever wanted to learn Greek so that you can read the Gospels in the original language, don’t you want to be able to translate the language of God imbedded in Creation?”

Read more at The Catholic Thing 

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