“How do I educate my child?” How many times has it occurred to us, as priests, to have this question directed to us. How to respond? The simplest way to respond is not to speak of technical forms of pedagogy or to give suggestions in regards to the psychology of teachers. The most secure path is to point towards the model of the most luminous teacher that we have encountered, that of Jesus.
To educate is above all a divine faculty. God the Father is the first and greatest educator. It is He who from the very beginning of creation, took the hand of man, Adam, after he created him and led him to understand the created realities, and he invited him to give a name to everything, to the animals and to understand the relationship between the particular and the whole. God invited him to participate in his work of creation and gave him the responsibility of being a guardian of the world He created. God did not stop educating man even despite his sin and fall: He attracted man to himself again, first through Abraham and the people of Israel, and then He sent his only Son to reach him, through the Church the whole of humanity. In this way He led man to understand the truth of himself and He showed him the path to realize himself.
Every single educational work is thus the imitation of the work of God, the archetype of every father and educator. With the coming of Jesus the educational method was made clear: he called the disciples to follow him, he proposed to them a new and fascinating way of living, he explained to them the meaning of life, showing them an intelligence of reality that was incomparable and thus inviting whoever met him to enter the same reality with a unique profoundness, which is proper only to those who possess the meaning of everything. Jesus gave to the disciples high ideals to follow, he corrected them, he reprimanded them, consoled them, and forgave them.
And what was the fruit of this educational work? That a handful of fishermen forever changed the course of the history of the world. That group of men, so apparently fragile and transient, became a people. Today we ask ourselves if it is possible to change our society, to influence the history of the world. Gazing at that Teacher and his disciples the answer is: yes, it is possible, through education. This is, at the same time, the most concrete and fruitful form of love. This is, in fact, what Jesus did: he taught, communicating himself, he entrusted himself to the twelve and he entrusted them to the relationship with the heavenly Father. He gave himself over to them completely to the point of giving his life for them. In a word, he loved them.
“Father, how do I educate my child?” And what do we do with the children, the students, the people that we are entrusted with? We must imitate what Jesus did, he loved them. In this way it is ever true the similar question: “How do I truly love my child?”. Not coming up short in your responsibility to educate your child.
(photo: “Le Choristes”, Christophe Barratier 2004))
The Pope stepped up the platform in the outer courtyard while the youth choir from Fr. Ghio’s nearby parish, the “Navicella”, sang the “Te Deum” in German. At the end of the visit, His Holiness greeted all of the people in the community. The Holy Father was accompanied by Camillo Cardinal Ruini and the auxiliary bishop for this area of downtown Rome, Monsignor Ernesto Manara. After having listened to brief speeches given by Guerino Di Tora, the Director of the local diocesan Caritas office, and some of the volunteers and visitors of the Center, the Holy Father spoke about the significance of the Center. “This place is somewhat of a symbol for all of Rome. In this place it is possible to find the presence of Christ in the brother that gives you something to eat. It is only by adhering to the message of love that is communicated by the Nativity of Christ that it is possible to experience the depths of true joy.”
The very joy lived by Roberto, a 40 year old man that spoke as representative of all those that benefit from the Center’s services. “In this place, Your Holiness, I have not only been able to find a plate of food, but the family that I lost”. The day ended with the Holy Father’s Apostolic blessing and an encore performance of the “Te Deum” in German, one of the Holy Father’s favorite hymns.
Now it was time to get back to an ordinary day. As all of the visitors began to vacate the premises, at the main entrance gate, all of the Center’s “ordinary guests” began to arrive. All those persons that everyday at Noon arrive and are offered their daily bread.