With so many children returning to school over the last few weeks (at least here in Arizona) and with so many more returning after Labor Day in other parts of the country, I found it fitting to write this article.
Teaching theology to high school students was one the best albeit hardest experiences I have encountered in my professional career. As a schoolteacher, one is often pushed to your limits on a variety of avenues, and within the Catholic school setting, one could say that you carry a cross each day. Although there is much joy and excitement in teaching, most teachers struggle with the amount of work and stress that comes with life in the classroom. There is daily lesson plans, loads of grading, difficult parents, and students that have no desire to be in school.
Back in 2004, when I was hired for my first high school teaching position, one of my college professors said to me: “Welcome to the galley!” What he meant by that statement was that teachers are like galley slaves that are chained up and responsible for rowing the boat. Think Charlton Heston in the film, Ben-Hur. “We keep you alive to serve this ship. So row well and live.”
Although there are daily struggles in the life of a teacher, one of the greatest things I will remember from being in the classroom are some of the funny and outlandish comments that my students said over the years. Even now there is one that is so funny I can’t help but laugh out loud when I think about it. With this in mind, I give to you some of the possible comments that Jesus might have heard from his students, the Apostles, when teaching them the Beatitudes.
Then Jesus took his disciples up the mountain, gathering them around him, he taught them, saying, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” . . . and so on . . . “Be glad and rejoice for your reward is great in heaven.”
Then Andrew might have said, “Do we have to write this down?”
And James the Greater said, “Are you going to test us on this?”
And Simon Peter said, “Teacher are you still mad at me? Am I still Satan?”
And Phillip said, “How do you know?”
Then James the Lesser said, “Is there an answer guide I can use?”
And Bartholomew said, “What came after poor?”
John said, “Do I have to write this all down? I have enough writing to do for you!”
Simon the Zealot said, “The other disciples didn’t have to learn this!”
And Thaddeus remarked, “Are you giving us a copy of this for our notes?”
Thomas replied, “I highly doubt we have to know any of this stuff.”
And Judas said, “I am not even going to be around for this exam.”
And Matthew said, “How will I use this in my job? Why do I need to know this?”
One of the Pharisees who was present asked to see Jesus’s lesson plan and asked, “Where is your anticipatory set and your objectives in the cognitive domain?”
. . . And Jesus wept.