The 13th Meditation
That as a teacher, you must give an account to God of the way you have done your work
205.1 First Point
Where does the zeal for teaching and ministry come from? Saint John Baptist de la Salle indicates that it comes from the knowledge of cooperating with God’s grace to be a co-creator with God in salvation. The brother, and by extension the Lasallian educator today, needs both to cooperate with God’s grace, and to recognize that their own salvation hinges on the degree to which they have presented the faith in a way that students are made to want to accept the faith.
“You cooperate with God in his work, says Saint Paul, and the souls of the children whom you teach are the field that God cultivates through you.” What a high privilege! What an honor! In the midst of all that is required of an educator today, how easy it is to forget that God has called you to something quite amazing and precious!
De La Salle also strikes the reminder that our own salvation depends upon our response to this call. “De La Salle also strikes the reminder that our own salvation depends upon our response to this call. “Because he is the One who has given you the ministry you exercise, when all of you appear before the judgment seat of Jesus Christ, each will give his own account to God of what he has done as a minister of God and as a dispenser of his mysteries for children.”
I do not think the intent of De La Salle in any of his meditations was to indicate that God wanted the ministry to be based on fear. Rather, for De La Salle, I think the primary intent was to help each brother, and by extension for us today, to see our ministry as connected to the powerful offer God extends to each of us to be saved.
In a way, all vocational responses concern our eternal salvation. Parents marry for their own salvation, and the salvation of their own children. Priests, brothers, sisters, nuns and monks do the same. De La Salle may not have used this phrase, but it is clear to me that he would have very much understood the universal call to holiness.
205.2 The Second Point
“Obey your leaders and defer to them, for they keep watch over you and will have to give an account, that they may fulfill their task with joy and not with sorrow, for that would be of no advantage to you.”
De La Salle understands this point to mean that the leaders in ministry will have to give an account not only for themselves, but also, and even firstly for the people whom they lead. So the brothers are admonished to remember this connection between the effects of ministry in their students as bearing responsibility on them as well.
This is the two-fold nature of the ministry. There is the primary concern for the students, but also the acceptance of this ministry by the brother as a pathway to his own salvation. While we might not make such a strong connection today, as each person must accept for themselves the gift of salvation, the connection that could be made between us and the students to whom we minister is not frivolous.
De La Salle asks a pointed question: “Have you up to the present regarded the salvation of your students as your personal responsibility during the entire time they are under your guidance?”
205.3 The Third Point
In making you responsible for the instruction of children and their formation in piety, Jesus Christ entrusted to you the task of
building up his body, which is the Church.
There is a lot of concern about the health of the Church, especially in what is often referred to as the “developed world.” It seems like that in the blessings that have been bestowed in the developed world, there has arisen a complacency about the role of God, and the suggestion by many that religion and discipleship, following Jesus is not really that important anymore. Everything depends on what I do. On me.
We know that the survival of the Church does not depend on us. We have the promise of Jesus that he will never abandon his Church and that he will be with it always, even until the end of time. Moreover, the ministry we engage in does not depend on us, but is rather dependent upon our ability to cooperate with the will and the grace of God.
So why do we minister at all? Why the decision to seek to pass on the faith? The answer is obvious. Because Jesus tells us that is what we should do. We are to teach all nations, and so the ministry of Saint John Baptist de la Salle, and we as Lasallian educators, comes from the very command of Jesus at the end of Saint Matthew’s gospel.
Every teacher probably has certain students they take special pride in having shaped and formed. If we really view our role as Lasallians as an authentic vocation given to us by Christ, then all students should fit into the category of those who have been provided the opportunity to be saved. All children should come to realize their place in the Body of Christ, the Church.
Questions to Ponder
How does the connection of your ministry with your students and your eternal salvation impact you?
Have you up to the present regarded the salvation of your students as your personal responsibility during the entire time they are
under your guidance?
How do you invite the students you teach into the Body of Christ?