St. Augustine Catholic
Creating a Nativity Belén
Home from War  
From the Fields to Marketplace

editor's notes
saint of the month
bishop's message
from the archives
in the know with Fr. Joe
world news
theology 101
your marriage matters
parenting journey
spiritual fitness
parish profile
around the diocese
calendar of events
theology 101
Why is Jesus the best teacher?

by Elizabeth Solsburg

This year, the St. Augustine Catholic is exploring Christology - the study of Jesus Christ. We asked several eminent seminary professors some questions about Jesus. Their answers are enlightening and thought-provoking. 

SAC: What is Jesus’ role as teacher?

Father Acklin: Jesus teaches even more by what he does than what he says. It’s like the famous quote attributed to St. Francis: “Preach always - use words when necessary.” Jesus’ whole ministry is like this; he begins with teaching and miracles. Then, he begins to teach the hard stuff, about giving us his flesh and blood to eat and drink - and there are very few miracles at that point, because miracles are signs pointing toward something, not an end in themselves. Jesus teaches with parables to break through the resistance to understanding, to prepare us to enter into the mystery. Otherwise, you could take this body of knowledge away and think you’ve “got it.” For example, the beatitudes - living them is a mystery; it’s not just about knowing them.

We have teaching in the Scriptures and in other church teaching, like the catechism. But to live through the questions is where you really learn to know something. The Apostles fumbled and ran away, and learned through that. Ultimately, we slip and fall and miss the point, and that is where the opportunity for real learning occurs.

For us to really know Jesus, all of his sayings have to become living for us. That happens through faith. And we have to recognize that everything Jesus taught was accompanied by things he did.

Father Muller: Jesus’ teaching is connected with the Word - Jesus is the revelation of God. Revelation must touch on the human heart and the human intellect. When you talk about the communication of God to our intellect, you’re talking about a student-teacher relationship between us and God. So Christ, as a revelation of the Father, comes as one who enlightens our intellect. That is the root of what is meant by teacher.

There were also cultural issues in the Scriptures that led to the use of that title - in the first-century Jewish culture, those who gathered disciples and trained them were called “teacher” or “rabbi.” Since Jesus did those things, he was often called by those titles.

Father Stevens: Everything Jesus does is a teaching moment. When does he teach the most? It is when he says nothing - it is in his passion. In that moment, we have the sublime teaching of what it means to be human and God. So, how do we propagate this - how do we teach? We use a combination of words, actions and silence. If Jesus teaches by silence, we should too. For example, don’t judge. Don’t cast a stone. Ultimate teaching is through silence. And teaching is always more than a matter of utterances. Look at Matthew, chapter 25 - we teach by visiting someone, by giving them water and clothing. This teaching is the way in which the truth of God reaches another human being.

theologian of the month
Catherine of Siena (1347-1380)

Catherine had visions and mystical experiences from a very young age. By the time she was 7, she had dedicated her virginity to>
As a teen, she joined the Dominican Tertiary order and began to live a solitary, consecrated life in her father’s home.

In 1370, she experienced a series of visions of heaven, purgatory and hell - and heard God telling her to leave her cloistered life and enter the world of diplomacy and politics. She did so, beginning correspondence with king and pope. In fact, her urgings prompted Pope Gregory XI to return to Rome in defiance of France’s king.

Catherine was responsible for a spiritual renewal and had a number of followers.

Catherine was deeply devoted to the Eucharist, existing on nothing more than Communion wafers and water for long periods of time.

what does that symbol mean?

The pelican was believed to pierce its own flesh with its bill, in order to feed its young with its own blood. As such, it became a symbol of Jesus and the atonement. The pelican is seen in paintings, stained glass and>  

Jesus as God, but not as man the heresy of monophysitism

To Monophysitists, Jesus had only one nature, and it was divine. It resembles Apollinarianism, in which Christ’s divine nature overcame his human one. But in monophysitism, Jesus was solely and always divine. This heresy mostly affected the Eastern church, which excommunicated the monophysitists in the sixth century.

Like many of the other heresies, this one is problematic because, without incarnation, there can be no true atonement for our sins on the cross.

It was condemned by the Sixth Ecumenical Council in 680-681; the doctrine of hypostatic union was reaffirmed - Jesus is one person with two natures inextricably intertwined. He is fully human and fully divine.