Last week’s blog was an invitation to journey through this year with Saint Mary, the Mother of the Prince of Peace. This week, readers are invited to consider teaching in the spirit of Saint De La Salle. The holy Founder writes of poverty, both of means and of self-regard. Poverty, he teaches, frees us to be open to God and available to our students. Peace and voluntary poverty, two guides for the Lasallian educator and two sorely needed pursuits in a world torn by violence and “unbridled consumerism” (Pope Francis, The Joy of the Gospel, 60).
Meditation on the Nativity of Jesus Christ
Saint John Baptist de La Salle
Today Jesus Christ is born poor in a stable. The Most Blessed Virgin brings him into the world in a place where she finds no comfort or any human help and where there is no other bed for this newborn Child than a manger…. The poverty that Jesus practices so eminently at his birth ought to commit us to have great love for this virtue, for it is to make us love it that he is born in this condition. Let us not be surprised, then, when we lack something, even necessities, for at his birth, Jesus was lacking everything. This is how we must be born in the spiritual life, dispossessed and deprived of everything. Because the Son of God willed that the humanity he took on be in this condition, he also wants us to share this disposition, so that he can take entire possession of our hearts.
It is not enough for Jesus to be born poor. He likewise chose lowliness as his lot in this world, according to the words of the Royal Prophet. He wished to make his entry into the world in a place where he was unknown and where no attention would be paid either to him or to his holy Mother, a place where he would be abandoned by everyone. It is true that he is visited at his birth, but it is only by poor shepherds, who can honor him only by their good wishes….In choosing our state, we ought to have resolved to be as lowly as the Son of God when he became man, for this is what is most noticeable in our profession and in our work. We are poor Brothers, forgotten and little appreciated by the people of the world. Only the poor come looking for us. They have nothing to offer us but their hearts ready to accept our instructions. Let us love what is most humiliating in our profession in order to share in some way in the lowliness of Jesus Christ at his birth.
Be convinced that as long as you remain bound in your heart to poverty and to everything that can humble you, you will do good for souls. The angels of God will make you known and will inspire fathers and mothers to send you their children to be instructed. By your instructions, you will touch the hearts of these poor children, and most of them will become true Christians. But if you do not resemble the newborn Jesus by these two outstanding qualities, you will be little known and little employed, nor will you be loved or appreciated by the poor. You will never have for them the role of savior that is proper for you in your work, because you will draw them to God only insofar as you resemble them and Jesus at his birth.
Photo by Brother Charles