The New Testament word mathetes is usually translated “disciple”. At that time, however, it could also mean an “apprentice”. This humbler term reminds us that we are always apprenticed to the “Master” – “You have only one master, the Christ” (Matthew 23:10).
The Gospels refer to the Lord’s public ministry as “teaching” some 150 times. He still remains our supreme Teacher who enlightens our minds and instructs us.
St Augustine said to his people in one of his sermons: “Christ lives in the heart of each one of us, and He is our best teacher. I, the preacher, am pouring out a torrent of words in your ear. My words are meaningless unless He who dwells within you reveals their sense to you. Your true teacher will always be the teacher within. It is He who enables you to understand, in the depths of your being, the truth of what is said to you.”
The Lord’s outreach and in-breaking into our lives is unrelenting, if we but realised it. Pope Benedict speaks in one of his encyclicals of “the life-less reduction of religion to duty without joy or energy.” He contrasts that with the awareness that “we stand before the astonishing experience of Gift”.
This Gift is the gratuitous outpouring of divine love that is the source of our creation and redemption, a gift we glimpse when mind and heart are touched by Christ’s light. During this Year of Faith may our minds and hearts indeed be touched by that light.
It was opening himself to the Lord’s Word that transformed St Francis’ life, and at the heart of our Franciscan life is the hearing and living of the Gospel.
“Speak, Lord, your servant is listening!”
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