In the course of my academic formation, I took a Diploma course in Academic Teacher Education in Religion. Part of the requirements for the program was a structured and directed teaching practice in an academic institution. In my own case, I had lesson observation and teaching in a British international Catholic Medium school under a mentor. My mentor was a devoted Catholic from Mexico. He was not only a mentor in the theoretical or academic sense of the training, but also in a practical sense. Indeed, his devotion to duty, perseverance with the kids and coherence in both words and deeds provided me with the most important values I needed to acquire as a teacher. At the end of my internship, he sent me some words of advice and encouragement as motivational and inspirational guide for my future as a teacher. The readings of today which speak of coherent and perseverant life refers me back to the words of this faithful teacher and mentor. I will be happy to share some part of his words in this reflection.
The first reading (2 Cor 1:18-22), exhorts the necessity that Christians in Corinth be coherent and perseverant in their lives, just as Jesus persevered in his ‘yes’ to the father and in fulfilling of God’s will. This exhortation is founded on some legacies. Firstly, the conduct of Jesus reminds us of the importance of being perseverant in our Yes, namely, commitments in our daily life. Jesus’ legacy underscores that the one who gives us security is God, he has anointed us with the Holy Spirit and has put his seal upon us. Therefore, in the vagaries of history and our life the Amen that we have proclaimed to God guarantees our security. But, what is this security and why or how does perseverant and coherent dealings guarantee it? Let me look at the foregoing question from the perspective of the words of my mentor.
According to him, “being perseverant in our daily efforts and faithful to commitments and promises leads people to success and meaningful and truthful lives. Further, being “a wo/man of her word” leads to reliability and being trustable and coherent in life. After all, what is the point of listening to a person who says one thing but does another? Incoherent persons more than often lead meaningless lives. Besides, one can also wonder about the value of human life and history if there isn’t any sense of truthfulness and permanent value.”
Leading Coherent lifestyle
The Gospel (Mt 5:13-16) lets us understand that perseverance and coherence add meaning and value to life. In reflecting on the Gospel, I will go a little bit further with the injunctions of my teacher. According to him, “The world is full of people who complain about their busy, mediocre or incoherent lives. Such people also complain about not being able to be faithful to their promises and commitments.”
Against such an incoherent tendency, which most of us experience at times, Jesus warns us in the Gospel that we are “the salt of the earth and light of the world.” Most of us use analogies in different ways and we know the relevance of this linguistic medium. We can imagine the kind of disappointment or embarrassment one experiences if after adding salt to food one gets a sugary, or bitter taste. The necessity of such an expectation is that it removes ambiguity and provides clarity and direction.
More so, can we imagine how confusing and disappointing it could be, when some sources of inspiration such as parents, leaders of institutions – Church and state, nuns, priests, teachers, fail to live up to the demands of their identity. So, in the words of today’s Gospel, just as a lamp is not supposed to be hidden, but rather exposed for the sake of providing light, we are enjoined to let our perseverance and coherent life provide inspiration and direction for those around us. Amen.