Back-to-school supplies are prominent in every store I visit and every ad I see. Once again I gave in to my niece’s “need” for a new pack of crayons for school, even though there are already more crayons in the house than the kids will ever use.
There is something exciting and satisfying about new beginnings — writing on the first page of a brand-new notebook, putting your name in the first user’s space in a new textbook and, yes, I admit, picking up a new pack of crayons, opening the flap (it hasn’t fallen off from overuse yet) and finding 24 perfect crayons awaiting my creative whim.
Educational training camp has started for a new season. It will take students (players), teachers (coaches) and parents (fans) to succeed on the field. During the season, we’ll most likely all trade places. Students will become teachers, teachers will become fans, and parents will become the best of students. They’ll work on skills that will help teach to change, grow, and become learners for life.
With God, we do not have to change, grow or be good to be loved. Rather, we are loved so we can change, grow and know our goodness. We all start in the classroom of life as students, and eventually, with the help of God’s spirit, we grow into principals, parents and prophets.
Here is a class of characters, students of the “teacher of love,” who were most likely to be sent to the corner for a time out:
• Peter the Rock, who was often a sandpile, a man who had denied even knowing the one who had loved him the most.
• Zacchaeus, who was a runt, offered to collect taxes for Rome from his own people for a kickback from the take.
• Mary Magdalene was said to be a “woman of the night.”
• Andrew, the naive one. He figured that five loaves and two fish would be enough for 5,000 people.
• Thomas was an all-star bullhead.
• Martha was the designated worrier of the bunch.
• The thief on the cross prayed what might have been the first prayer of his life, and was promised immediate paradise.
• The blind man did not know who this Jesus was, but knew that he had been blind and now could see.
• Saul of Tarsus was bent on destroying Christianity until he took the road to Damascus and found a loving Lord.
They weren’t exactly the dream team.
Yet, this class of characters learned to adjust, were moved by love and helped to change the world. Let’s take steps to do the same, as we L.O.V.E. this year, meaning:
L – Let
O – Our
V – Vision
E – Educate
Father Jim Swarthout is pastor at St. Paul Episcopal Church in McHenry. The column is his reflection on the Gospel or just life in general. You are welcome to share his reflections.