Commentary on the Gospel of

Barbara Dilly - Creighton University's Department of Sociology and Anthropology - Retired

We can draw from our readings today some words of encouragement to others.  Our faith in Jesus the Christ calls us not only to rejoice in our own salvation, but to encourage the faith of others, especially those who are much younger.  I could relate to the encouragement to young teachers in 1 Timothy today meaningfully.  Having recently retired from my role as a full professor in the Department of Cultural and Social Studies at Creighton, I remember fondly that one of the joys of that role was serving not only as a mentor to students, but also to my junior colleagues.  They are a gifted group of young men and women who persevere in their tasks as teacher/scholars.  I assured them, and keep assuring them, that they are making a difference in the lives of their students.  That matters to them.  That is why they are there.

But teachers, especially younger ones, can get discouraged.  Teaching today’s students to make a difference in a world of problems is arduous and exhausting.  There are so many issues that must be addressed.  Students often get overwhelmed.  Teachers must work at reaching and inspiring them at so many levels.  Teaching isn’t just intellectual development at Creighton.  It is the development of the whole person.  That takes many gifts, and it also takes a lot of encouragements.  So, before you read further what I found in today’s readings, resolve to encourage a teacher today and to make a habit of it.  Because we want to be truly helpful, we now consider how we can we help others with our encouragement? 

As I reflected on Psalm 111, I find inspiration in the awesomeness of God’s truth and wisdom.  I find sharing that awe and how it worked in my life to be the most helpful.  But even more useful is sharing of the invitation in Matthew 11 to bring our heavy burdens to the Lord.  Jesus asks a lot of those of us with the spiritual gifts of teaching, but he also gives us courage when we fail or fall short of lofty goals and expectations.   The story of the sinful woman in Luke reminds us that Jesus sees through us all.  We all fall short and cannot atone for our own shortcomings.  It is our faith in forgiveness that fills us with newness of life.

So back to those teachers we know.  The best thing we can do is encourage them with words of God’s love and awesome kindness.  If we can help teachers feel that love and kindness, they will all the better be able to pass that along to their students who will in turn pass it along to everyone they meet.  We all know teachers who did that for us.  We can repay them by encouraging other teachers, especially young ones.  I pray for a safe, healthy, and productive new school year of truth and wisdom everywhere!


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