“Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And preach as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without pay, give without pay.” – Matthew 10:6-8
One of my favorite Catholic hymns is “We Are Called.” (Maybe you have heard it at an ACE Mass or two?)
A staple in the Gather Hymnal, this is one that I would belt out even when I was a self-absorbed middle school boy, concerned with what all my peers thought about me. Over time, and as my faith matured, I grew more attentive to the lyrics of the hymns, and in “We Are Called” there’s a clear theme. It’s about others and how we should act toward them.
Act with justice.
Serve one another.
This is the same message Jesus gave his Apostles. What we read above in the Gospel comes immediately after the naming of the twelve. Matthew names them, and the next line reads: “These twelve Jesus sent out.”
Not much of a faculty meeting before heading into a day of teaching, if you ask me. But the instructions are clear. Jesus doesn’t ask them to go into great synagogues or houses of God – he asks them to find the lost sheep.
As an ACE Teaching Fellow, I often felt like the grind of teaching in the month of February would never end. I remember our ACE community in Mobile joking one night at dinner: “How can the shortest month of the year feel like the longest??”
Whether I was having a great week of teaching or struggling, there were always times those doubts would creep back in: I’m not as good at teaching as I should be yet…I still don’t know what I’m doing on a daily basis…My plans are too simple…Why haven’t I been able to figure out this class community thing yet?
I felt like I was struggling with the stuff my instructors said so matter-of-factly: “Plan lessons (and units), assess for understanding, grade fairly, manage the classroom.” It sounds simple, but this is the beautiful, challenging work of teaching.
I imagine that Simon-Peter, Andrew, John and the gang felt the same when Jesus dropped his next set of instructions: “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons.” Jesus performed miracles for months as the Apostles watched in utter awe and disbelief, then turned to them one day and asked them to do the same. That’s pretty much how I felt when I watched Sr. Gail Mayotte led me through a MASTERFUL eight weeks of instruction in how to teach middle school…and then turned and asked me to do what she had been doing.
As educators we're finding out, like the Apostles did, that although the instructions are clear, they are not always as easy to carry out as we think. But regardless of how difficult their task or what kind of obstacles they came up against, the Apostles continued because they were called by Jesus.
Likewise, we must remember our call from Christ to serve the poor and vulnerable. If you find yourself wondering how to fulfill that call, the answer is right there in the song: may we “walk humbly with God” as we seek to answer Jesus’ call to love one another.