Only a few of you, my brothers, should be teachers, bearing in mind that those of us who teach can expect a stricter judgement.
After all, every one of us does something wrong, over and over again; the only man who could reach perfection would be someone who never said anything wrong – he would be able to control every part of himself. Once we put a bit into the horse’s mouth, to make it do what we want, we have the whole animal under our control. Or think of ships: no matter how big they are, even if a gale is driving them, the man at the helm can steer them anywhere he likes by controlling a tiny rudder. So is the tongue only a tiny part of the body, but it can proudly claim that it does great things. Think how small a flame can set fire to a huge forest; the tongue is a flame like that. Among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a whole wicked world in itself: it infects the whole body; catching fire itself from hell, it sets fire to the whole wheel of creation. Wild animals and birds, reptiles and fish can all be tamed by man, and often are; but nobody can tame the tongue – it is a pest that will not keep still, full of deadly poison. We use it to bless the Lord and Father, but we also use it to curse men who are made in God’s image: the blessing and the curse come out of the same mouth. My brothers, this must be wrong.
Jesus took with him Peter and James and John and led them up a high mountain where they could be alone by themselves. There in their presence he was transfigured: his clothes became dazzlingly white, whiter than any earthly bleacher could make them. Elijah appeared to them with Moses; and they were talking with Jesus. Then Peter spoke to Jesus: ‘Rabbi,’ he said ‘it is wonderful for us to be here; so let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ He did not know what to say; they were so frightened. And a cloud came, covering them in shadow; and there came a voice from the cloud, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved. Listen to him.’ Then suddenly, when they looked round, they saw no one with them any more but only Jesus.
As they came down from the mountain he warned them to tell no one what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. They observed the warning faithfully, though among themselves they discussed what ‘rising from the dead’ could mean. And they put this question to him, ‘Why do the scribes say that Elijah has to come first?’ ‘True,’ he said ‘Elijah is to come first and to see that everything is as it should be; yet how is it that the scriptures say about the Son of Man that he is to suffer grievously and be treated with contempt? However, I tell you that Elijah has come and they have treated him as they pleased, just as the scriptures say about him.’
We use (the tongue) to bless the Lord and Father, but we also use it to curse men who are made in God’s image
One of my modules during teacher training involved a project to create an interdisciplinary lesson unit. While exciting in terms of possibilities, careful coordination of content knowledge was required. We handled information from not only our members’ two subjects (Biology and Chemistry) but also a third subject which was unfamiliar to us (History). One of the challenges we faced was to ensure that we always delivered the correct information. Doing otherwise would create misconceptions that would be difficult to correct. As teachers it is our duty to not teach falsely.
James writes about the power of the tongue in today’s first reading. It is something that can be used to both build up and tear down. The latter contradicts the image of God and can potentially destroy communities and lives. The gospel passage is shows what the voice of God means in Christian lives. It speaks and the faithful listen. In the fullness of time, they in turn pass on the word of God and build the kingdom of God.
I have the utmost respect for primary school teachers. I think they are specially blessed with the talents to nurture young children at an important formative stage in life. Though not all of us have this vocation or these talents, each of us is blessed with a unique and important place spreading the message of Christ. My brothers and sisters, will our voices be discordant or harmonic?
(Today’s OXYGEN by Aloysius Ting)
Prayer: We pray that we will always be able to discern the truth.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks to the Lord for believing in our worth.