By: Rick Hernandez
Of the many gifts I have been privileged to receive on this Earth, I am genuinely grateful for each of the many great teachers that have left their mark in my life. From their efforts, I like to think that I have learned to be open-minded and curious. I have learned to hypothesize and test, searching deeper when an answer eludes me or is unsatisfactory. I have learned that where work and effort are required, there is an opportunity for growth.
A good teacher can en-kindle these fires in your mind to search for meaning, to search for truth, and we know these are things that can definitively change the course of any life.
Growing up in the Catholic faith, I always thought of Christ Jesus as “My Lord.” That was the title that always stuck to my mind whenever I figured Jesus on this Earth.
I imagined this benevolent King, working and sacrificing for the good of His people, a servant King. As truthful and beautiful as that image is, it is incomplete, for Christ Jesus is more than a King.
Our Lord Jesus is “Priest, Prophet, and King.” This is called the “Threefold Office” of Our Lord. This is important to know because it presents a much more complete description of the mission of Christ Jesus.
A servant king works for the good of his people; he provides the kingdom subjects with safety and comfort, but not necessarily with growth. For that, we need something different from a king.
A priest sacrifices for the people, providing the flock with a means to make amends for wrongdoings and giving thanks but does not necessarily foster personal growth. For that, we need something different from a priest.
Personal growth is usually nurtured by “teachers,” not “kings” nor “priests,” and that is where Christ Jesus’s office of “Prophet” comes to the forefront.
The word “prophet” translates from the Ancient Greek word “prophḗtēs” as “one who speaks for a God,” or more formally as “one who speaks with Godly authority.”
“Rabbi” is the title most often used in the Bible to address Christ Jesus. “Rabbi” is an Aramaic word that can translate directly to “great one” (one who deserves respect) or more to the point to “teacher” (one who deserves to be heard).
Christ Jesus, as a Prophet, teaches us the way to a faithful and moral life. Our Lord came to establish the Kingdom, redeem us from our sin, and teach us the way to Heaven. With His most sacred life, he offers the perfect example of righteous living.
During His time on Earth, He was a Prophet, for He taught with His Godly authority; He was a Great One, deserving of great respect and was, most of all, worthy of being heard, a teacher to us all. With His words, we are taught the way to Him. He is the most perfect teacher indeed.
But... any good teacher will tell us that they can only teach us if we are willing to learn. A keen open mind is the bare minimum requirement for becoming a student. But as always, minimums are not enough with Our Lord.
Our Lord is not looking for students but for disciples. A Master/Disciple relationship is freely chosen by both teacher and disciple and bonds to the same level as a father and son. Jesus pulled His disciples from all walks of life. He called out to them and asked if they were willing to follow, to learn, to suffer...
Jesus called His disciples to greatness, and He was going to personally teach them.
Like it was for the original twelve Apostles, to be a disciple of our Lord means being called to something greater. It is a call that is not free or without effort. We are called to eagerly bring all that we are, our strengths and weaknesses, and offer ourselves to Our Heavenly Master. We obediently submit to His teachings. Sacrifices will be asked of us. We are no longer ours but His.
The standards for our lives become different from the non-believers. When we are disciples of our Lord Jesus, our lives are meant to be faithful, hopeful, loving, and consistent. The world needs His disciples.
When we internalize Christ’s teachings, we go beyond discipleship and are called into the apostolic life. We go from disciples (those who learn) to apostles (those who are sent, those who teach). When the students are ready and know the material well, they are now able to teach.
Are we learning well? There is a whole world out there that is waiting for our apostolic work. Our Mother Church is waiting to teach us well, in communion with one another. The Eucharist is waiting to nourish us and provide us with the Grace needed for every day. With the help from the Holy Spirit now within us, it is time to work for the Kingdom.
Our Heavenly Teacher is calling us to greatness. How will we respond?
Let us pray:
Our Good and Mighty Teacher, we offer You our very lives that You may impart in us Your great teachings, that we may learn to be like You, that we may be able to love like You. Help us to do this with a joyful heart and a willing mind. May we be always open to the promptings of Your Holy Spirit, that we may be true disciples, new apostles sent into the world. Amen.