The 3rd Meditation
That those who teach the young are cooperators with Jesus Christ in the salvation of souls
195.1 First Point
What is most important when it comes to salvation is the way in which we are saved. We are not saved by our efforts, and so the popular image of the judgement where Jesus weighs our good deeds against our bad deeds is not accurate. We are not saved because of our greater number of good deeds.
Rather, we are saved only by God’s free gift. The only thing we can do in the face of this gift is either to accept it or reject it. And our salvation happens or does not happen because of this decision on our part. Jesus Christ has merited the salvation for us by his total abandonment on the cross.
What is meant when Paul says “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body,” he is not suggesting that the suffering of Christ is insufficient or in any way defective. For de la Salle, it is what is still necessary in Paul to accept this salvation that is referenced by this quote.
194.2 The Second Point
De la Salle, in the next point, stresses the need for the brothers to see themselves as witnessing to Christ. Just as Jesus used many ways to help his disciples to see how it is they were to live as God wants, the brothers themselves had to see themselves as imitators of Jesus for their disciples, the students they served.
So for de la Salle, the brothers are not simply responsible for imparting knowledge, but more importantly they are to impart wisdom. Content alone is not enough if it does not lead to the acceptance of the gift of salvation. It is not just being a good witness, however, it is much more.
“They must also be convinced that they are a letter that Jesus Christ dictates to you, which you write each day in their heart, not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God.” The notion of the brothers so diligently exercising their minstry by touching the hearts of the students they serve is a central idea of de la Salle.
This only becomes possible to the degree we can ask the Holy Spirit to make the work we undertake to be under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Put another way, the brother can only touch the heart of the student to the degree that the Holy Spirit touches the heart of the brother.
195.3 The Third Point
And so, it remains important to see that it is God who inspires the actions that impact the students. It is God who gives the gifts and talents the brother uses to be effective in the ministry. It is God who is the source, and it is the gift of God’s grace that moves the brother to successfully complete the task.
The brother helps the students to grow by helping them to recognize the presence of God in their lives. For just as God inspires the brother to perform his ministry, so too, God is the one who enlightens the mind of the children. Being reminded often that we are all in God’s holy presence is not simply a nice slogan but is rather the important realization needed by all who choose to minister in his name.
Questions to Ponder
De la Salle stressed the importance to seeing the Lord as the source of successful ministry. What might de la Salle see in your life and work that would be evidence of this grace?
How is it that the students in your care exemplify the action of the Holy Spirit?
How do the words in this meditation impact your relationship with God?