Wednesday, March 23, 2016

"When the students are ready…"

There is a proverb, "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear," or sometimes, "When the student is ready, the teacher is ready." According to this site, the proverb is not Buddhist but is from 19th century Theosophical writings. I always like the proverb because that really is the way of teaching: you can talk to students and explain things to them, but they won't understand until they're ready. Teaching has an aspect of kairos: we learn at the right time. Many times, students make comments about a subject that help me see something differently, and learning happens in a reciprocal way.

The other day, I commented that it's customary for us during Holy Week to point out the catastrophic drop in Jesus' "approval rating" during Holy Week. A pastor friend calls our Holy Week experience "liturgical whiplash."

Another customary thing to notice is the failure of the disciples to stand by Jesus. Jesus even predicted their behavior. Matthew 26:31 reads: Then Jesus said to them, ‘You will all become deserters because of me this night; for it is written [Zechariah 13:7],
“I will strike the shepherd,
   and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.”

I'm thinking of their desertion of Jesus in light of that proverb. Clearly the disciples (and the word means "students") weren't ready to understand the teacher!

But since Jesus already knew what they would do, what if their desertion was a way for them to be ready for the teacher's appearance: literally the appearance of Christ resurrected? For all their time listening to Jesus, they still needed the power of the risen Christ and the Holy Spirit for them to be really ready. Their readiness took a lot of time and regret---but Jesus was there and, in fact, had brought them along.

That's good assurance for all of us when we feel we are slow to learn. The Teacher is patient and hangs in with us in our own circumstances.

(A post from 2014.) 

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