Author Archives | Father Michael Van Sloun

About Father Michael Van Sloun

Father Michael A. Van Sloun is the pastor of Saint Bartholomew of Wayzata, MN. Ministerial interests include weekly Bible study, articles on theological topics, religious photography, retreats on Cross spirituality, and pilgrimages to the Holy Land, Italy, Greece and Turkey.

Thanksgiving: Time to Count Blessings and Thank God for Gifts

November 23, 2016

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The holiday season moves into full swing at the end of November with our annual celebration of Thanksgiving.  It is marvelous when we are able to have an attitude of gratitude.  God is our provider, the giver of every good gift, so when it comes to giving thanks, our first expression of gratitude should be directed to almighty God.  Jesus stressed the importance of thanking God when he asked the Samaritan leper who had been healed, “Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?” (Lk 17:18).

Following the lead of Jesus, his Master, St. Paul exhorts us to be grateful to God.  Paul instructed new Christians to “Be thankful” (Col 3:15).   He also said that believers should be “singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God” (Col 3:16).  He also taught that we should “Give thanks to God the Father through him [Jesus]” (Col 3:17).

This point is emphasized at every Mass when the priest says, “Let us give thanks to the Lord our God,” and the congregation responds, “It is right and just.”

At Thanksgiving, even though it is a civic holiday, it is an extremely beneficial spiritual exercise to set aside a few moments to count one’s blessings. Make a list.  Consider life and health, family and friends, talents and abilities, opportunities and accomplishments, financial and material blessings.

While the world focuses on material blessings, please do not forget to count your spiritual blessings:  the Father and creation; Jesus and his gospel, the Eucharist, his saving death on the Cross, and our salvation and redemption; the Holy Spirit, inspiration and guidance, faith and grace, energy and power, courage and conviction, contrition and forgiveness.  Apart from God, we would have nothing.  God has blessed us with everything that we have.

As we become increasingly aware of our countless blessings, it should lead us to give God greater praise and thanks, and one of the best ways to express our gratitude is in prayer.  The Greek word eucharistos means “thankful,” and as Catholics we believe that the best way to thank God is at the Eucharist, our prayerful celebration of the Mass.

St. Paul also recommends hymns and psalms, sung at Mass, or anywhere, anytime.  It also is an excellent spiritual practice to thank God in our personal private prayer each and every day.

Please consider making prayer a central part of your celebration of the Thanksgiving holiday.  The ideal way would be to attend Mass.  Also, before sitting down to the Thanksgiving dinner, take a moment as a group to offer thanks with your meal prayers.

On Thanksgiving Day, take some time between rising and retiring to go off by yourself to a private place, be quiet, reflect, list your blessings, and offer God your personal prayer of thanks.

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Jesus – King in the line of David

November 18, 2016

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Jesus Christ is King of kings, the greatest of all kings, and he is in the line of King David, the greatest king in the history of Israel.  When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary to announce the birth of Jesus, Gabriel explained that “the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father” (Lk 1:32).  The announcement fulfilled the promise God made to David before he died through his messenger, the prophet Nathan:  “I will raise up your offspring after you … I will establish his royal throne forever.  I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me … your throne shall be firmly established forever” (2 Sm 7:12,14,16).  While Jesus was given the throne of David, their kingships could not be more different.

christthekingDavid was a shepherd boy; Jesus is the Good Shepherd.

David was anointed king by the prophet Samuel;
Jesus’ kingship was conferred by his heavenly Father.

David became widely known because he killed Goliath with a stone;
Jesus became widely known because he healed the sick and raised the dead.

David armed himself with the sword of Goliath; Jesus armed himself with the Word of God.

David was a great soldier, mighty and valiant, and he slew many Philistines;
Jesus taught love of enemy and he practiced what he preached.

David was a warrior king, the commander who led his soldiers into battle;
Jesus leads his followers in the battle against Satan, temptation, and sin.

David brought the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem;
Jesus established the New Covenant with the blood he shed on the Cross.

David has multiple wives, Ahinoam, Abigail, Eglah, Bathsheba, and concubines, too;
Jesus has a chaste love for everyone.

David had many sons; to Jesus all people are his children.

David sinned grievously when he committed adultery and murder;
Jesus was tempted like everyone, but never sinned.

David’s kingdom encompassed a large geographic region from Dan to Beersheba;
Jesus’s kingdom encompasses not only the earth, but the entire universe.

David’s throne was in Jerusalem; Jesus’ throne is in heaven.

David’s throne was surrounded by attendants;
Jesus’ throne is surrounded by the angels and saints.

David ruled for forty years; Jesus reigns for all eternity.

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St. Cecilia, Virgin and Martyr

November 16, 2016

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St. Cecilia, also known as Cecily, lived during the Third Century.  The exact dates of her birth and death remain unknown, but her story is legendary.

Cecilia was born in Rome when Christianity was illegal.  She was raised in a Christian family and was a devout girl.  In fact, she wore a hair shirt as an undergarment, fasted several days a week, and intended to consecrate herself totally to God by living as a virgin.

Meanwhile, her father arranged that Cecilia be married to a young pagan nobleman named Valerian.  Because the marriage went against her wishes, Cecilia did not join in the singing and dancing at the wedding feast but rather went off by herself to sing to God and pray for help.

Later that night when Valerian and Cecilia were alone, she explained that she had reserved herself to God, that she intended to remain a virgin, that an angel was watching over her, and that if he were to touch her, the angel would become angry and he would suffer.  Valerian was so moved by Cecilia’s faith that he decided to respect her wishes.  Not only that, Valerian went off, found Pope Urban, and was baptized.  Upon his return, Cecilia and Valerian sat side-by-side and an angel appeared and placed a crown of roses and lilies upon each of their heads.

Valerian’s brother Tiburtius, also a pagan, then appeared, and Cecilia shared the story of Jesus with him.  He was convinced by her testimony, converted, and was baptized.  For a brief time the two brothers cared for the poor and buried martyrs.  This became known to government officials and they were arrested and placed on trial before Almachius, the Roman prefect.  The brothers refused to sacrifice to the pagan gods and remained steadfast in their new Christian faith.  They infuriated the prefect when they mocked the pagan god Jupiter.  They were scourged and then condemned to death and beheaded on the outskirts of Rome.  Cecilia buried them.

Shortly thereafter, officials went to Cecilia’s home to force her to renounce her Christian faith and to sacrifice to pagan gods.  Not only did she refuse, she convinced the officials and a crowd of about four hundred spectators to convert, and Pope Urban came to baptize them.  At this Almachius placed Cecilia on trial.  Resolute, the prefect condemned her to a gruesome death, to be placed in a bathtub filled with scalding water and then be suffocated, but she survived unharmed.  Then she was sentenced to beheading, but the executioner failed to dispatch her immediately with his three blows to her head.  Cecilia languished for three days and expired.

The Church of St. Cecilia in Trastevere in Rome is dedicated to her.  She was named the patron saint of sacred music in 1584 at the time when the Accademia della Musica was founded in Rome.  She is also the patroness of musicians, composers, poets, singers, choirs, choir directors, pianists, organists, those who play musical instruments and those who make them.

St. Cecilia has a variety of symbols in religious art:  a palm branch which represents martyrdom; a crown of roses, the crown of martyrdom; a white flower which represents purity, chastity, or virginity; and a harp, harpsicord, piano, organ, flute, horn, violin, or another musical instrument, all which represent her patronage of musicians.

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St. Paul: Looking Back, Looking Forward

October 20, 2016

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Dissolution Time.  The year was 67 AD.  St. Paul was in his mid-70s, an old man by First Century standards.  He was in Rome, a bad place for Christians.  The Roman Emperor Nero was waging a large scale persecution against Christians.  Paul was in prison.  Many other Christians had already been put to death, and Paul could see the handwriting on the wall.  When he wrote, “The time of my dissolution is at hand” (2 Tm 4:6), “dissolution” means death.  It was Paul’s way of saying that he knew that the time of his martyrdom was drawing ever nearer.

Paul as a Libation.  Today a libation is an alcoholic beverage, but that is not its original meaning.  Initially a libation was a blood sacrifice (e.g., Ex 24:5-8).  Over time there was a shift away from animal sacrifice and the spilling of blood.  Eventually wine was used as a substitute for blood, and the pouring of wine on the ground was an alternative for sprinkling the blood of an animal.  When Paul wrote, “I am already being poured out like a libation,” it was a metaphorical way to describe how he had poured out his life completely in service of Jesus and the gospel.

The Race to the Finish.  Paul compared his life to a long-distance running race (2 Tm 4:7).  He was born and raised in Tarsus, a city in southeastern Turkey.  He had moved to Jerusalem to become better-educated in the Jewish faith.  As a young man he was zealous and persecuted Christians, but then came his dramatic conversion after Jesus appeared to him on the road to Damascus.  It had been roughly forty years since his baptism.  His “race” was one long-distance event after another, three missionary journeys in all, to Syria, Turkey, Greece, and Rome, widely over the Middle East and the northern Mediterranean.  He was an elite Christian endurance athlete, the Apostle to the Gentiles, the one who took the gospel of Jesus to the world.

Fighting the Good Fight.  As Paul looked back over his life, he enjoyed a sense of inner peace knowing he had given Jesus his best effort.  Yes, he had regrets about the terrible things that he had done in his early years, but with the grace of God he was able to turn his life around.  Great love, heroic service, and long-suffering for the sake of the gospel cover a multitude of sins.  For whatever Paul may have done wrong in the past, in his final years he was in superb spiritual shape.  Paul had grown close to Jesus and knew that they were on the best of terms.

Looking Ahead.  Paul concluded, “The crown of righteousness awaits me” (2 Tm 4:8).  It was his poetic way to say, “After I die, I am confident that God will reward me with a place in heaven.”  Despite the fact that he was in dreadful anticipation of his execution, spiritually he was totally at peace knowing that he had dug down and given his best.  All would be well in the end.

Now it is Our Turn.  Paul’s race is over, but ours continues.  Paul turned his life around.  No matter what sins we may have committed, we still have time to turn away from sin and rededicate our lives completely to Jesus and the gospel.  The goal is to be able to look back knowing that we have done our best and to look forward to our heavenly reward.

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Sacred Scripture, Wisdom for Salvation

October 14, 2016

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The Word of God.  Sacred Scripture is the writings of the Holy Bible, all of the books in both the Old and New Testaments.  These books are on an approved list called the Canon of Sacred Scripture because they are considered authentic, contain correct teaching, and have been in continuous use throughout the centuries.

The Human Word of Almighty God.  Sacred Scripture is the Word of God and inspired by God.  The words are “human,” the words that people use to express themselves, and the authors are human, real people such as Moses and Isaiah, Matthew and Mark, Peter and Paul.  God did not dictate the words that were to be written, nor did God insert the words into their brains or direct their pens.  Each author wrote freely.

Inspiration.  The composition of Scripture is guided by the Holy Spirit.  It is “revelation,” something about God or the truth that the author could not have known or learned on his own.  Revelation comes in mystical ways such as dreams, messages brought by angels, voices, visions, thoughts, and insights.

Scripture’s Limitations.  Scripture is one way that God communicates with us.  God uses words, yet words in themselves are finite, limited, and cannot say everything.  Words reveal something of God but not everything of God because God is infinite and transcends the limited nature of words.  They cannot convey everything that there is to know about God, but they do reveal a great deal.  Scripture is an act of love by God, God taking the initiative to communicate with us.

Scripture, the Source of Wisdom.  St. Paul wrote that “sacred scriptures which are capable of giving you wisdom” (2 Tm 3:15).  The word “wisdom” is carefully chosen.  He avoided the word “knowledge.”  Scripture is not information, a history book to learn or a theology book to study, matters of the mind to know and understand.  Scripture is a matter of the heart.  It is not only what we know but what we believe.  It is what we love, value, and treasure.  It is our passion.  It is to be devoured by us and become the fabric of our being (see Ez 3:1-4).

Wisdom.  Wisdom is the first gift of the Holy Spirit (Is 11:2).  It is the ability to exercise good judgment.  It distinguishes between right and wrong.  It seeks and upholds truth and justice.  It is oriented toward the common good.  It is the parent of the theological virtues of faith, hope, and love.  It is one with the truth, and the closer we get to the truth, the closer we get to God.

Teaching, Reproof, Correction, and Training.  Scripture is useful for teaching:  it contains the truth about God and serves as the basis for doctrine; for reproof, to reject errors, distortions, deceptions, heresies, and false teaching; for correction, to correct misunderstandings and misapplications, to expose wrong decisions and actions, and to help a person get back on the right track; and for training in righteousness, to help a person to grow in goodness and virtue, and to increase in their desire to obey and please God.

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Give thanks to God!

October 7, 2016

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One of the greatest miracles that Jesus performed was to cure ten lepers of their disease (Lk 17:11-19), and after having received such a tremendous gift from Jesus, only one of the ten came back to thank him.  In disappointment Jesus asked, “Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?” (Lk 17:18).

St. Paul tells us that we should “be thankful” (Col 3:15b).  Every Mass at the Preface Dialogue we say that it is right and just to give thanks to the Lord our God.  Yet Jesus rarely received any thanks.  In fact, when the Samaritan fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him (Lk 17:16), it is the only time in all four gospels that someone thanked him.

There may have been other occasions when someone received something from Jesus and then came back to offer their praise or express their gratitude, but none of the four evangelists records one other instance, and as memorable as such an event would have been, it would have been worthy of inclusion.  It seems that Jesus was rarely thanked, not by his apostles, not by those who were cured, not by those who were forgiven, and not by those who were taught by him.  Jesus’ ministry was a thankless task.  He was grossly underappreciated.

The twelve apostles were among the worst offenders when it came to ingratitude.  When Jesus called them to be his disciples (Lk 6:13), they did not thank him for choosing them.  When Jesus invited them to accompany him (Lk 8:1), they did not thank him for making them his partners.  When Jesus took them aside and gave them private explanations (e.g., Lk 8:9-15), they did not thank his for his extra time and attention.  When Jesus commissioned the Twelve and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases (Lk 9:1), they did not thank him for their special appointments or exceptional powers.

The apostles’ lack of gratitude seems more reprehensible during their final days with Jesus.  No one thanked him for the Eucharist at the Last Supper.  Worse yet, no one thanked Jesus’ for his death on the Cross and his gifts of redemption and salvation.  When Jesus appeared to them after his Resurrection and greeted them with the words “Peace be with you,” no one thanked him for his mercy and forgiveness.  It took until after Jesus had ascended to heaven until the apostles did him homage and praised God (Lk 24:52,53).

The disciples had many reasons to be thankful and so do we.  The process begins with our ability to recognize what we have been given.  For starters, we need to set aside time to reflect and count our blessings.  Next, with our blessings in mind, we should thank God and with our prayers of praise, both personal prayers of gratitude said alone and prayers at Mass said with others.  St. Paul specifically mentions singing as a particularly good way to express our thanks:  “Singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God” (Col 3:16).  Another excellent way to express our gratitude is to put our gifts to good use, to place them at the service of others, and to do so in ways that give glory to God.

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St. Theresa of the Child Jesus

September 30, 2016

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October 1 is the memorial of St. Theresa of the Child Jesus.  She is also known as “St. Theresa of Lisieux” and the “Little Flower.”  Her life story is also the subject of the feature film “Therese” released by Xenon Pictures in 2006.

St. Theresa was born on January 2, 1873 at Alencon in Normandy, France.  She was the youngest of nine children.  Five siblings died during infancy, and only Theresa and three older sisters survived.

After Theresa’s mother died when she was four, her older sister Pauline helped to raise her and taught her about Jesus and the gospel.  Pauline entered the convent when Theresa was nine, and at that point Theresa decided that she wanted to be like her older sister.  Theresa suffered a life-threatening illness when she was ten but she miraculously recovered, a cure attributed through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Two years later another sister, Mary, also joined the convent.  Then on Christmas Eve, 1886, when Theresa was thirteen, she had a profound mystical experience in which the child Jesus brought light to the darkness of her soul.

The following year Theresa announced her intention to join her sisters Pauline and Mary in the convent.  Her father approved but the mother superior and the bishop refused, citing her age.  Subsequently, she accompanied her father on a pilgrimage to Rome and attended a papal audience.  While kneeling before Pope Leo XIII she asked for his permission to enter the convent, but the delay continued only a short while longer.

The local bishop relented and gave Theresa permission to enter the Carmel at Lisieux in 1888 when she was fifteen.  She was guided by Jesus’ words, “Unless you change your lives and become like little children, you cannot enter the kingdom of God” (Mt 18:2).

At first Sister Theresa wanted to be a martyr, but she discovered “a still more excellent way” (1 Cor 12:31), love.  Her plan was to perform ordinary kindnesses throughout the day, small good deeds done frequently, humbly, generously, quietly, and without fanfare, a spirituality that she called the “Little Way.”  She practiced this herself, and her example served as an inspiration for others to do likewise.

She was appointed director of novices when she was twenty, but three years later contracted tuberculosis.  During her final 18 months she wrote her autobiography, The Story of a Soul, in which she explained the way of doing little things with great love.  She died on September 30, 1897, at the age of 24, and was canonized by Pope Pius XI twenty-eight years later in 1925.

St. Theresa is the patron saint of florists, airline pilots, Vietnam, and religious freedom for Russia; as well as the co-patron saint of missionaries with St. Francis Xavier and the co-patron saint of France with St. Joan of Arc.  She was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope John Paul II on October 19, 1997.

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The Children of this World vs. the Children of the Light

September 15, 2016

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Jesus made a troubling comment when he was teaching his disciples:  “The children of this world are more prudent … than are the children of the light” (Lk 16:8b).  This is sad but true.  It is human nature.  Jesus was deeply disappointed, and in this case not so much with “the prudent,” a veiled reference to people who connive to make more money and get their way, but with those who claim to be righteous, decent, religious people.

The dishonest steward was a child of this world.  He was preoccupied with himself and his commission, or put in modern terms, he was self-centered, greedy, and on an all-out quest for the almighty dollar.

This world is obsessed with money, and tremendous amounts of time and energy go into making it.  Young people go to good schools and try to get good grades so they can get into good colleges so they can get a good job so they can make more money.

The children of this world are enterprising. Whether they are starting their own business or working for someone else, those who excel in business are enthusiastic and energetic, creative and imaginative, shrewd and resourceful.  They are experts at analysis and evaluation, skilled at developing an ingenious business plan, and eager to modify, improve, and update it.  They are dedicated to the task and willing to work long and hard, even if it means coming in early, staying late, or traveling.  They are not afraid of change and able to act quickly and decisively.  Their objective is a quality product or service, but it is also profit, and as much as possible.

Meanwhile, there are “children of the light.”  This probably refers to Jesus’ new followers, his children, with him as their light.  It also may have referred to good and faithful Jews in general or to the Essenes, a group of Jews, some who lived in the desert, who separated themselves from world and its evil ways to embrace an ascetic lifestyle in which they dedicated themselves totally to God.  Children of the light are those who love, follow, and obey God.

Jesus was upset.  His observation was that business people put more time and energy into making money than supposedly religious people put into their spiritual lives.

It would be a grand and glorious day when the primary objective of a school is to form disciples in God’s ways.  Jesus is longing for followers who are enthusiastic and energetic about him and his gospel, and creative and imaginative in the application of his gospel values to their daily lives.  Jesus wants disciples who can size up the situation and develop an ingenious plan to root out evil and replace it with great good, both in their individual lives and their organizations, and to do so decisively and without delay.  He also wants believers who are willing to put in their time when it comes to prayer and service.  Jesus wants to surround himself with people who want to get ahead, not with money and possessions, but in holiness and God’s grace.

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Mercy for miserable sinners

September 7, 2016

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St. Paul

Mercy is one of God’s most wonderful attributes.  God is kind and merciful.  Paul was utterly dependent upon God’s mercy.  So was Peter.  So are we.

Paul and Peter had something in common:  both were intensely aware that they were miserable sinners.  Paul wrote, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.  Of these I am the foremost [the worst]” (1 Tim 1:15); and Peter told Jesus, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man” (Lk 5:8).  Paul was a blasphemer, a persecutor, and arrogant.  Peter tempted, doubted, denied, and abandoned Jesus.  They badly missed the mark when it came to doing the right thing.  They were not pleasing to God.  They offended God.

After all of Paul’s wrongdoing, he should have been in serious trouble.  He deserved condemnation and punishment, but he did not get what he deserved.  Instead of a conviction and a fine, prison time, misfortune, or some other penalty, God treated Paul mercifully (1 Tim 1:13,16).  God still loved Paul.  Jesus even asked Paul to preach the gospel.  Paul was completely overwhelmed by such unwarranted kindness.  The mercy of God was a gracious gift.  He did not deserve it but he received it nonetheless.

Paul mentions this to encourage us.  Paul would like to tell us:  “With how bad I was, if God was merciful to me, no matter how bad you may have been, God will be merciful to you, too.”

God is merciful.  There are many aspects to God’s mercy.  God gives us the benefit of the doubt.  God is lenient instead of severe, soft instead of heavy-handed, gentle instead of rough, gracious instead of high and mighty, kind instead of mean, tender instead of harsh, compassionate instead of irritated or irked, understanding instead of aloof, patient instead of perturbed, sympathetic instead of hostile, quiet instead of lecturing or scolding, calm instead of angry, serene instead of furious, accepting instead of rejecting, forgiving and absolving instead of condemning, reconciling instead of isolating, and pardoning instead of punishing.

Each of us is like Paul, a sinner.  It is almost impossible to make it to the end of the day unblemished.  When we add up the sins of the past day or week, it is humbling, and when we add up all of the sins of our past life, it is devastating, downright demoralizing.

Despite our sins we must never lose hope.  Paul states emphatically, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Tim 1:15).  Jesus went to the Cross to save us.  It is through the Cross that we receive divine mercy and the forgiveness of our sins.  God was merciful to Paul, and no matter what sins we may have committed, God will grant us mercy!

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Jesus, model teacher for instructors and catechists

September 1, 2016

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Summer vacation is over, and another school year is about to begin.  Instructors are headed to their classrooms, and catechists are headed to their faith formation groups.  The main focus of education rightfully belongs on the students, but it is also a high priority to reflect on the role of those who facilitate the learning process, teachers and catechists.

In education, a teacher who is experienced, highly effective, and an expert at training new teachers is a “Master Teacher.”  Jesus explained that these attributes belong to him when he told his disciples, “You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am” (Jn 13:13).  Christian teachers who wish to excel in their ministry would be wise to take their cues from the greatest teacher of all.

Love all the students.  It is difficult to love every student.  Some resist.  Others are slow.  Peter was impulsive.  James and John wanted the best positions, the others were indignant, and they squabbled among themselves.  Jesus knew that Judas Iscariot would betray him.  The disciples had their shortcomings.  Every student does.  Yet, Jesus loved each of them, and his authentic love for his learners was the single greatest secret to his success.

Pray for your students.  Jesus prayed for his disciples, and teachers should pray for their students.  Prayer not only asks God’s grace and blessing for the students, it also has a transforming effect on the teacher’s disposition toward their students.

Ask the Holy Spirit for help.  The Holy Spirit came down on Jesus at his baptism before he began his public ministry as teacher, and the Spirit gave him wisdom, insight, inspiration, energy, and courage.  Teachers should pray to the Holy Spirit for the guidance and understanding they need to carry out their ministry.

Prepare; study before teaching.  Jesus may have lacked a formal education, but he had an inquisitive mind, and he learned from others and on his own.  Mary and Joseph homeschooled him.  He was in the custom of going to the synagogue on the Sabbath day (Lk 4:16) where he was taught by the rabbis.  He went to the Temple in Jerusalem where he sat “in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions” (Lk 2:46).  From the way that he quoted Scripture, it is evident that he spent long hours in study and memorization with the books of the Bible.  Teachers who follow the example of Jesus do their homework.  They study before they teach, and they come to class with a well-prepared plan.

Use a variety of methods.  Jesus taught with lectures such as the Sermon on the Mount.  He was fond of storytelling with his parables.  He frequently taught large groups, but there were a number of occasions when he pulled his disciples aside for small group learning, and he also taught individuals as a tutor.  An assortment of approaches keeps learning interesting.

Be patient and kind.  The disciples were confused when Jesus taught in parables and asked, “Why do you speak … in parables?” (Mt 13:10).  Jesus did not get irritated.  Instead, he patiently explained his imagery (Mt 13:18-23; 36-43).  Many students do not comprehend the first time.  Jesus shows how to treat slower learners with extra kindness and provide additional instruction.

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