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No Greater Lesson

He taught them with authority (Mark 1:22) Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

A sixth grade teacher was trying her best to discipline a particularly mischievous student. She tried reasoning with him. She tried scolding him. She tried bargaining with him. Again and again she sent him to the principal’s office. Finally, she called the boy’s mother. “I’m at the point of no return with your son,” she said. “He’s out of control.” To which the mother replied, “What seems to be the problem?” “The problem is two-fold,” the exasperated teacher said. “Number one, his behavior is horrendous. And number two, he has a perfect attendance record.”

When I try to put myself in that teacher's shoes -- or for that matter, any teacher's shoes, I have to wonder: with all that teachers go through, how they do it and still manage a near-perfect attendance record? Just think of it -- where would we be without those dedicated and enthusiastic individuals charged with the most awesome responsibility imaginable -- that of guiding our children as they move through the rocky path of life? Indeed, where would we be?

From another perspective, there was a story which appeared recently in The Washington Post online edition about a teacher who tried to put herself in her student's shoes. -1 The article posed a simple question: Do teachers really know what students go through? To find out, a 15-year teaching veteran followed two students for several days. She paid careful attention to the daily rigors the 10th and 12th grade students she was following faced, and at the end of the experiment said that her number one takeaway from the experience was that "students sit all day -- and sitting is exhausting!" In addition to her recommendation that students take regular breaks from their seats, she went on to offer other important changes she would make as a result of her experiment. Other teachers who tried this agreed, with one saying that because of the very nature of the job, teachers are sometimes prone to be insensitive to the actual daily experience of their students. And that was precisely the point of the experiment -- for the teachers [...]

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Limitations, Faith, Striving

There is an old oriental saying that goes like this: Consider the worm; his day is two feet long. Meaning, I suppose, just as a worm can do only so much, travel so far, given his physical limitations, so too human beings should learn to submit to their apparent limitations. But Jesus’ Passion Story asks us to change all that. We say, “I can’t do the impossible!” Jesus says, “Follow Me, however impossible it seems.” We say, “but I can’t go too far!” Jesus says, “If anyone orders you to go one mile, go two miles with him” (Mt. 5:41).

Prejudice

If my son brings breakfast in bed to my daughter-in-law, she’s a lazy good-for-nothing and he spoils her. If my son-in-law brings breakfast in bed to my daughter, she deserves it and he’s a doll. –Josfowitz, N., “The Roses In My Garden.”

Comedy of Errors, Co-Workers, Injury, Work

“We are fellow-workers with God” (I Corinthians 3:9). The story is told of a bricklayer who had tried to move about five hundred pounds of bricks from the top of a four-story building to the sidewalk below. The problem was he tried to do it alone. In his own words (taken from his insurance claim form)... It would have taken too long to carry the bricks down by hand, so I decided to put them in a barrel and lower them by a pulley which I had fastened to the top of the building. After tying the rope securely at the ground level, I then went up to the top of the building, fastened the rope around the barrel, loaded it with the bricks and swung it out over the sidewalk for the descent. Then I went down to the sidewalk and untied the rope, holding it securely to guide the barrel down slowly. But, since I weigh only one hundred and forty pounds, the five-hundred-pound load jerked me from the ground so fast that I didn’t have time to think of letting go of the rope. And as I passed between the second and third floors, I met the barrel coming down. This accounts for the bruises and lacerations on my upper body. I held tightly to the rope until I reached the top, where my hand became jammed in the pulley. This accounts for my broken thumb. At the same time, however, the barrel hit the sidewalk with a bang and the bottom fell out. With the weight of the bricks gone, the barrel weighed only about forty pounds. Thus my one-hundred-forty-pound body began a swift descent, and I met the empty barrel coming up. This accounts for my broken ankle. Slowed only slightly, I continued the descent and landed on the pile of bricks. This accounts for my sprained back and broken collar bone. At this point, I lost my presence of mind completely and let go of the rope. And the empty barrel came crashing down on me. This accounts for my head injuries. As for the last question on the form — What would you do if the same situation arose again?--please be advised that I am finished trying to do the job alone.”

Friendship, Accomplishment, Pride

An old legend from India tells of a huge elephant and a tiny mouse who became close friends. Everywhere they went they walked together, side by side. One day, they came upon a long, narrow bridge suspended over a deep gully. Side by side they stepped onto the bridge and walked across. When they stepped off on the other side, the little mouse said to the elephant, “Wow, we sure made that old bridge shake!”

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