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 Jesusâ€™ role as teacher?
Father Acklin: Jesus teaches even more by what he does than
what he says. Itâ€™s like the famous quote attributed to St. Francis:
“Preach always - use words when necessary.” Jesusâ€™ 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 youâ€™ve “got it.” For example, the beatitudes - living them is
a mystery; itâ€™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.
Muller: Jesusâ€™ 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, youâ€™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
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, donâ€™t judge. Donâ€™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
theologian of the month
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 fatherâ€™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 Franceâ€™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
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 murals.br>
| 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 Christâ€™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
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.