At a local Franciscan Shrine in Boston, there is a hispanic community that I am a part of, and at one point I asked the folks if they’d like to do some English learning. Of course I knew what the answer would be. So after talking about it with the Franciscans, we started up a few weeks ago. Gladys came up to me and said, “I can’t wait for you to be our teacher!” I knew I had my work cut out for me.
So, the very first class, one of the very first things I did was ask everyone, “OK, where did you learn Spanish?” And out came all the responses and one by one I wrote them on the whiteboard. Parents. School. Brothers and sisters. Friends. On the street. Signs. TV. Radio. Books. Movies. Music. We kept going and filled most of the whiteboard. I stepped back and we looked at the board. “So, it looks like you learned Spanish from everything. So, here’s the question:
Who was the teacher?”
Puzzled looks and a few guesses flew around the room.
“God! God was the Teacher!
And you are going to learn your second language in exactly the same way. You are going to learn from everything. I am going to help you to do that. I am the facilitator. I am not the teacher!
God is the Teacher.”
Light bulbs started popping and lighting up over their heads.
See, that’s what it means to be born again. To really learn a second language as an immigrant, to enter into another culture, no one person, no one course is going to get you there. No, you have to become a kid again and learn from everything.
God is the Teacher.
Did you ever wonder why St Francis looked at everything with amazement? He looked at animals, the sun, the moon, the birds and trees, fire, the cold, the wind – everyone and everything around him like a kid does. How could he embrace everything like a brother and sister? How could he embrace death at the very end of his life and call it his sister? Death!?? It’s because he was born again, he was learning the language of God’s Kingdom, from everything and everyone. God was his Teacher.
“But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brethren. And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Neither be called teachers, for you have one teacher, the Christ.” (Mt 23:9-10)
If we want to know God and enter His family, if we want to enter His kingdom, the priest or the holy writer or the saint or the theology professor or whoever seems to know what is going on, they’re not going to get you there. You have to be born again, you have to be like a kid learning your language all over again.
You have to learn from everything.
God is the Teacher.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God. … Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Jn 3:3, Mt 18:3-4)