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Monthly Reflection by
Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC
"I dwell with the crushed and the dejected“ (Is 57:15)

- Fr. Augustine Vallooran VC

Prayer of the Month

Divine Call Archives

A tribute to every teacher - By Fr. Michael Payyappilly VC

Coming across old acquaintances is a wonderful feeling, more so, if these old acquaintances turn out to be one of your past teachers. On a Sunday, I was conducting the sharing session after the Holy Mass. A person came up to the stage to give his witness for the miracle that the Lord had performed in his son's life by healing him miraculously. All throughout I kept watching this very familiar face but could not locate where I have seen him before. He did look very similar to someone who taught me when I was a young student. I kept the thought in mind the whole week and on Thursday when I came across him I asked him if he was in anyway a teacher in the Indian High School, Dubai, in United Arab Emirates (the school I studied in). He turned out to be the supervisor I knew when I was a student at the school. The moment he knew that I was one of his students, he embraced me and said that he was so proud that at least one of his students became a priest!

That day I spent a lot of time remembering and praying for the teachers who taught me. All of them would have taught so many thousands like me and maybe many of us students might have become very successful in various fields. We could be well placed, well respected, famous, rich or whatever and a large part of the credit would definitely go to these silent workers in our life. It is one profession that generates a lot of monetary benefits, not for the worker but for the learner. Can we ever forget their role in our lives.

Jesus was very often referred to as a 'teacher' amongst the Jews of that time. The scribes referred to him as a teacher, "A scribe then approached and said, 'Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.'" (Matthew 8:19) The Pharisees referred to him as a teacher, "When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, 'Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?'" (Matthew 9:11) The Herodians saw him as a teacher, "Then the Pharisees went and plotted to entrap him in what he said. So they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, 'Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and teach the way of God in accordance with truth, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality." (Matthew 22:15-16) The Sadducees saw him as a teacher, "The same day some Sadducees came to him, saying there is no resurrection; and they asked him a question, saying, "Teacher, Moses said, 'If a man dies childless, his brother shall marry the widow, and raise up children for his brother.'" (Matthew 22:23-24)

Jesus also saw sees Himself as a teacher, "But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all students." (Matthew 23:8) and in Matthew 26:18, we read that He said, "Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, 'The Teacher says, My time is near; I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.'" Thus, the fact that Jesus was a teacher was of importance! It was considered a respected profession. More than anything else, Jesus kept teaching His disciples so that they would be able to carry on after Him. The amusing thing is that Jesus as a teacher not only taught but did nearly everything. He was expected only to teach and guide but Jesus went way beyond that – He loved, He cared for, He understood, He suffered with and suffered for, He forgave and in the end He died for those He taught. I do not know how many will agree with me but I feel His being called a teacher was perfect! Because though teachers are only supposed to teach, they invariably end up doing much more than are expected of them.

We have seen and come across so many of our teachers doing much more than just teaching us. Maybe some of them were never even great teachers but they made such an impact - many years later, they and what they did for us are still very vivid in our minds. I still remember a teacher in my school who had made an impact in my life so silently that I never even realised it till years later! I had just got my results and I had done badly. I shed a lot of tears in the classroom and that even went on in the school bus. In the bus, seeing my tears, our teacher who taught us Drama held me close and comforted me. Then very surprisingly, 'Suneel sir' as he was fondly known, took down my telephone number. All I know is that when I got home and by the time I showed my marks card to my parents, they just seemed least bothered about the fact that my results were bad. They were very cool about the whole affair. Suneel sir never spoke to me about it. I came to know a few years later that it was his one call that gave me so much of comfort - even without me knowing it! He taught us a subject which not many would consider as a mainline subject. After all, many would ask, "What career can come out of studying drama?" Yet he played the role of a life- time and made a great impact in the life of a young little boy. His one act taught me so much - the importance of COMPASSION - seeing the pain of others when everyone else is so busy with their own lives. Is this not what Christianity and Christ is all about? This teacher taught me more about the way of Christ than any other. All of us have so many fond memories of our teachers who did in some way or the other contribute to us becoming what we are. Just like our Lord, the Teacher, they molded us into individuals to face the world and situations. Jesus, in spite of the faults of His disciples, would have been proud to see them fight their own battles and win over complicated situations. I am sure our teachers would feel the same!

I do not think this idea is restricted only to those who are technically our teachers. I came across a quote somewhere which went something like, "Every situation we face is a learning experience and every person we come across is our teacher." Let us leave aside the negative aspect of this quote. In every walk of our life we have come across people who have taught us something. The fact is that, in the making of the 'ME' as an individual, a lot of silent hands have played major roles. All of them have been our teachers. Let us always remember with gratitude that, "I do not completely make myself, God makes me, using many others." It is obvious not many of our teachers will make headlines of newspapers or be amongst the rich and famous but silently and happily they taught us to fly! They find joy in their simple lives - seeing us fly high and conquer the world. They resemble so much, Jesus the Teacher, who basks in the goodness of His disciples. Let us offer a special thanks and a sincere prayer to every teacher who helped us to become what we are!

I end with the beautiful lyrics of the Bette Midler song 'Wind Beneath My Wings' which is apt for everyone who has ever taught us:

…Did you ever know that you're my hero,
and everything I would like to be?
I can fly higher than an eagle,
for you are the wind beneath my wings.

It might have appeared to go unnoticed,
but I've got it all here in my heart.
I want you to know I know the truth, of course I know it.
I would be nothing without you…

…fly high against the sky,
so high I almost touch the sky.
Thank you, thank you,
thank God for you, the wind beneath my wings.

Divine Updates

39th National Youth Retreat

Our annual National Youth Retreat will be held at the Divine Retreat Centre. Come and let the word of God refresh you. Simultaneous retreats for couples, children and Bible nursery to be held. Contact Divine Youth for more details.

Date: May 19 - 24, 2019

Retreats at the Divine Retreat Centre, Somersby, Sydney

Divine Retreat Centre, Somersby to hold retreats throughout 2017. For bookings, email Fr Roni George, Director - Hurry, as admission is limited.

Date: January 2018 - December, 2018

Retreats in Divine Retreat Centre, UK

Divine Retreat Centre, Ramsgate UK, has announced several English and Malayalam language retreats to be led by Fr. George Panackal VC and Fr. Joseph Edattu VC. All are welcome.

Dates: Jan - Dec, 2019

POWER 2019 at Divine Retreat Centre

DRC is back with the highlight of the year: the 14th International Youth Conference - POWER 2019. The very best international preachers and gospel bands will be here to lead us into worship. Be there to experience a totally different atmosphere of prayer. A Couples' Retreat and a Kids' Retreat will be held simultaneously. Don't miss it.

Date: July 21 - July 26, 2019

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