August 19, 2020
by Director of Mission, Mr Geoff Brodie
Education is a mysterious and wonderful thing. Mysterious because it concerns the combination of all the elements creating the future of a unique human person: one’s history and hopes, one’s participation in the gifts of our shared human nature, and the emerging wisdom fulfilling the capacity for freedom and responsibility in our choices. Wonderful because the beauty of a life lived to the full is an inspiration and a source of courage for us all. Education is an encounter with all of this.
The second reading at last week’s Mass reminds us that God’s gifts given to each one of us, and the call to live those gifts to the full, are irrevocable. God will not betray the words of life given to us in Jesus and through the Holy Spirit. St Paul writing to the Romans (11:13-15, 29-32) sets out a mysterious and wonderful dynamic in education offering a profound insight into our Touchstone of Inclusive community.
A student (let us call him Bob) may witness two types of behaviour in their peers. Firstly, Bob may observe the attentive, intelligent, reasonable, and responsible actions of a peer. Bob comes to know how life may be lived to the full through their example. Secondly, Bob may see the results of the inattentive, silly, unreasonable, and irresponsible actions of some. Wishing to avoid the consequences of such choices, this too guides Bob to a fuller life.
Ok to this point? However, that is not the end of the story. Bob has learned how to live a beautiful life from both types of behaviour. And here is St Paul’s great insight: Bob cannot abandon his wayward peers, but in a sense, he owes them a debt of gratitude for the lessons he has learned from them. Out of the gratitude that matures into care and concern, and indeed love, for all his peers, Bob’s example seeks a change of heart in those whose negative example he has learnt from. Bob wants all his peers to experience the joy of life.
An inclusive community is not some insipid acceptance and mere tolerance of the poor choices of those rejecting the gifts of God. An inclusive community constantly invites everyone into the fullness of life encountered in God’s love: the one love eternally given and received by Father, Son and Holy Spirit. An inclusive community is open to wisdom wherever it is found and seeks unity in the freedom and responsibility of God’s love for every one of us. This is a mysterious and wonderful gift. Bob living this gift is a moment of education at St Patrick’s College.