The 15th Meditation
The reward that those can expect even in this life who have instructed children and have fulfilled this duty well
207.1 First Point
Using the two versions of the parable of the talents, De La Salle indicates the two ways that the brothers can expect rewards in this life for doing their work well. First, there is the outpouring of grace that makes so much difference in the lives of those who are diligent in their ministry. And second, there is the increased ability to affect even more individuals in this gift of grace.
For De La Salle, the joy of the work is the absolute certainty of the grace of God in the ministry. The second is even more important. In the meditation, De La Salle says this: “For the future, then, be devoted with zeal and affection to your work, because it will be one of the most helpful ways to assure your salvation.”
207.2 The Second Point
The second way there is a reward in this life is seeing the changes that happen in the students who are instructed. There is this great satisfaction when the opportunities provided have come to fruition. Every teacher has probably had this experience. There can be such great happiness when a student takes what they have been given through your teaching, and makes of it (with God’s grace) something magnificent.
Saint Paul points this out in the pride he takes in the zeal of the Corinthians. The Lasallian educator is given the chance to help students to come to know Jesus, and more so than just knowing about Jesus. For those who have the call of a Lasallian educator, is there any greater joy than to see students embrace what you teach and to come closer to Jesus?
You too must consider it a great personal reward, this consolation that you feel at the bottom of your heart, that the children whom you instruct behave well, know their religion thoroughly, and live a life of piety. Thank God with all your heart for all these kinds of rewards that he gives you in advance in this life.
207.3 The Third Point
There is still another reward. “This is the very special satisfaction you will have when they grow up and you see them living with justice and piety, keeping free from evil associates, and performing good deeds.” This points out the long term satisfaction. There are students we teach who will become adults who embrace what we teach, becoming disciples of Jesus, and living a life of faith.
This is not simply a question of what might happen in religion class, but it is broader. The student who embraces physics and math and becomes an engineer whose decisions are guided by the faith they learned. There is pride when a student in history becomes a very moral lawyer, the math student becomes a doctor seeking to serve the poor in their work.
For De La Salle, the great reward is that the Church receives the fruits of these efforts, especially the working class and the poor. And the power of the ministry becomes such that the Institute (the Brothers of the Christian Schools) will flourish and grow. And how true this is. There can be instances when someone accepts a vocation because the living out of the vocation was made clear by a brother.
Thank God every day16 through Jesus Christ, our Lord, that he has been pleased to establish this benefit and to give this support to the Church. Ask him fervently too that he will be pleased to make your Institute grow and produce good day by day, so that, as Saint Paul says, the hearts of the faithful may be strengthened in holiness and in justice.”
Questions to Ponder
In what ways have you seen the grace of God at work in you? In others?
How have you provided the example that takes root in a life of faith for your students?
How is it the grace that is active in your students inspires you?