Fr. Francis Scaria
I bow before all my informal and formal teachers who have been teaching me the meaning and purpose of life. Beginning with my parents who began to teach me from the moment the Lord in His mercy caused my conception in my mother’s womb to the child in the street who waves his tiny hands to me, a stranger as I hurriedly pass by, there is a long line of great teachers who have been shaping my life. I salute all of them with grateful heart. From the moment of my conception, my mother’s appreciation, dreams, motivations, movements and even apprehensions lovingly communicated to me lessons of the mysteries of life. The teacher in my mother was already on duty much before my birth. As formal teachers prepare their lesson-plans much in advance, so also my parents were on duty much before I stepped into their classroom. They continue to be on duty even after their mortal remains were laid to rest under the earth. The lamp of faith they lit remains burning with the extra oil they motivated me to preserve for future.
I salute all my formal teachers who through their noble efforts tried to dispel the darkness from my life by lighting many lamps and by igniting the flames of confidence, optimism and determination in me.
Gone are the days when the teacher was considered to be an informer, a treasury of all knowledge. There was a time when all approached him/ her to receive knowledge about a variety of if not all matters.
Today a teacher, in the first place, is a LEARNER and in that he / she should be humble. The greatest knowledge is the knowledge that I do not know. It is the discovery of this greatest knowledge that makes us humble. Teacher is supposed to know everything, but we know that it is impossible for anyone to know everything. Even the wisest and most intelligent man on earth knows very little. That is probably why Jesus told us not to call anyone on earth ‘teacher’ (cf. Mt 23:8). God is one who knows and knows to communicate properly what he knows.
In the second place, a teacher is an INSPIRER and in that he/she should be sincere. A teacher does not primarily teach by words, but by life. “Let your light shine before others” (Mt 5:16). Many unspoken words have a remarkable power of communication. When a teacher succeeds in this role, others aspire to imitate the teacher. The scribes and Pharisees miserably failed in this. Hence Jesus said, “The scribes and Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; therefore do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach.” (Mt 23:2-3) A teacher should make untiring efforts to inspire everyone by life and behaviour. St. Paul mentions three qualities of good teachers – integrity, seriousness and soundness (cf. Tit 2:7). The most important qualities required for this role are sincerity and honesty. He/ she does not need to pretend to be perfect; we are all wounded healers.
In the third place, a teacher should be a MOTIVATOR and in that he/she should be zealous and optimistic. A teacher motivates and prompts the students to move, progress and achieve. Here the teacher is like a midwife, witnessing to and ushering in new life with joy.
In the fourth place, a teacher should be a CHALLENGER, in that he/she should be uncompromising and ambitious. A teacher challenges the students to climb even the heights the teacher himself/ herself could not climb but could only point to. The teacher then should be able to recognise that the student is becoming a teacher, often greater than himself/ herself.
In the fifth place, a teacher should be a FRIEND, in that he/should be caring and assuring. A teacher is, in fact, a co-traveller who happens to be ahead of some on the way. The fact that there are many ahead of him should keep him down to earth and the fact that there are many following him should keep him alert.
MUSINGS : 1-25,