'What think ye of Christ?'
Posted: Tue, 08 Dec 2020 11:41
Catholic teacher and Deacon, Mike Bennett, looks at where we can find Christ in our schools this Advent.
As the song 'In My Liverpool home' goes "In this fair city there are two football teams, one we call Everton, the other's a scream!'' Spot the Bluenose I hear you say! The park which divides the two Liverpool stadia, Stanley Park, has a church on its western corner. I often walk past this church and have done since the mid 1970's. It is a church in the Evangelical tradition, and for over forty years it has had the same sign: see for yourself in the photo above.
It comes from the Gospel of Matthew (22:42). We see Jesus questioning the Pharisees on who they think that the 'Christ' is? Whose son is he? They reply the 'Son of David', and in response, Jesus demonstrates his knowledge of the ancient scripture, which silences them.
It is a question I believe is worth reflecting on, especially during the season of Advent. What do we think of Christ? Fr Richard Rohr in his latest work, 'The Universal Christ', reminds us that 'Christ' is not Jesus' last name! Fr Rohr gently suggests that the Christ is a simply another name for 'everything'. The Christ is the divine DNA in all things; the sacred unifying principle incarnate in all things, visible and invisible. The Christ is reality – God.
The Pharisees in Matthew referred to the Christ as the Son of King David. Jesus pointed out that though they could quote by heart from the scriptures, they lacked understanding. Simply, the Christ mystery cannot be trapped in any singular place and time as the Christ everywhere. Christ is a cosmic reality – so then, Michael, 'What think ye of Christ?'
If we frame this question within the context of education, the Christ is:
• The youngster who needs my attention.
• The member of staff who is exhausted.
• The student who is working hard.
• The dedicated pedagogue who will do the best for their students.
• The site staff at 5.30 am opening up the school.
• The frustrated student who simply is not getting the work today.
• The associate staff who serve the needs of the entire community silently and diligently.
• The students chasing a ball on the yard at lunch.
• The NQT who is working above and beyond.
• The SENCO who simply does not have enough hours in the day.
• SLT who carry the school on their shoulders.
• Cleaners who make the school a home.
• Kitchen staff who feed the community.
You see, the Christ is everywhere! Each and every member of the school is Christ. In response to the question 'What Ye think of Christ', my humble reply is this: the Christ is all around us; in all people, places, times. The incarnate reality is that there is nothing that does not have the divine DNA of the Christ. I believe that in Matthew, Jesus was not so much asking the Pharisees a question but offering them an opportunity—to reflect on where the Christ is to be found. Their responses limited a cosmic reality to a single person, when in truth, the shape of the Christ is much bigger than all things. It is the shape of God. They simply could not see this.
This advent, I am challenging myself to see the Christ in all things – and especially in the students I serve. I would encourage all those who work in education in whatever capacity to look for the Christ this Advent, as Christ is waiting to be invited in.