6. JESUS: EDUCATING LOVE THAT INVITES US TO A LOVING LIFE
Let ourselves be inspired by Jesus educator and the pedagogy of God. The Gospel is a source of inspiration for us educators and it nourishes our educational spirituality. By praying and realizing the Word we capture and become a sign of the educative action of Jesus. In the Gospel also, the special contribution of the educational practice of Jesus is above all a question of style.
The gospel of Jesus, source of inspiration for our educational action
In the many encounters described in the Gospels, Jesus appears as someone with extraordinary educational skills: he is able to grasp the potential of the persons, he manages to snatch several men from a mediocre existence, he accompanies them in recognition of the limits, as well as the immense resources each has. The Master thus educates, becoming next to every man encountered in his path. An unconditional acceptance of others, openness to diversity, creativity and openness of communication are some of the characteristic features of this educational vicinity of him. By becoming a traveling companion he takes also a co-educational dynamics, calls to a loving life in which the love concretely experienced at his ‘school’ can be put in a circle and shared in communitarian form.
Jesus, a concrete expression of a God who loves with a personal and unexpected love, tender and merciful, becomes for each of us sign and longing to reconsider, in the perspective of full and meaningful humanity, his own and others’ existence.
His style sustains the educational and humanizing commitment of those who, following his example and his fellowship, want to be even today, in a time of crisis and vulnerability, his witness and ‘leaven in the dough’.
Jesus educator: traces of a methodological implication.
Jesus neither act as nor was a professional educator as perhaps we use the term today, but we cannot deny that his life and his relational approach have had many educational connotations. He was, in other words, an educator in fact. From this consideration, we can, however, trace in the acting of Jesus a kind of methodological implication that those ways of acting and / or those strategies that, albeit not intentionally placed or pedagogically based, contain a strong educational feature and offer us processing directions on how to arrange learning dynamics at the service of the person’s growth in the Christian perspective.
A special focus of Jesus’ education is to be found in the movement, in the starting, in the mobilization of vital energies of his interlocutors. In fact, he proposes and promotes change processes understood as activation of “movement”. The Latin verb that expresses this conceptual core, namely the change as movement, is “ducere” or pulling, carrying, driving. The semantic constellation that has this verb at its center includes many of the shades of the educational process put in place by Jesus in his interactions with people, whoever they would be. His can be configured, in fact, like a multi-faceted and multi-purpose role of seduction, conduction, induction, abduction, translation, deduction, production . Let’s see in detail the implications:
1. Seduction (se-ducere) is the ability of pulling apart, of separating, of deviating from a previous journey. Often embodied in leading the person outside of his everyday reality and makes him see new prospective, to change the cognitive and emotional frameworks.
Jesus adopts an educational seductive dynamic especially towards the apostles, but also in other cases, as in the encounter with the rich young man. On all these occasions he manages to deviate from the norm, offers prospects of separation from an obvious life routine in order to direct everyone to the discovery of their own originality. Jesus pulls aside not, however, in view of isolation or alienation from reality, but in the perspective of re-signification of existence.
2. The connection (con-ducere) not deemed to give direction or drive, so as is often the sense and the common cause, but that of the original latin connotation “to bring together and to connect.” In the educational processes fatigue, fears or hesitations of separation and deviation that drives the strategy of seduction are attenuated by the proximity and company of the group of people traveling on the same road. The experience of the community of the Twelve and of those who follow Jesus more closely is one of the most obvious examples of this.
In practice Jesus, in implementing processes of ‘connection’, tells us that education is never a solitary journey or a mere dynamic that runs out in relation to two persons (e.g. Master-disciple). It is, however, a community practice that makes the group is not a simple tool or educational site, but the true protagonist of growth where the single, reassured by the educator and the group of fellow travelers, is not canceled or crushed, but urged to a presence and to a personal and at the same time interdependent action .
3. The induction (in-ducere) means to introduce, but also to inspire and excite. The educator introduces the person in the unexplored world of the possible, arousing the curiosity of the unknown and / or of something that can be born.
Well, Jesus often takes towards his interlocutors, occasional or stable ones, a function of ‘detector’ of new perspectives proposing to overcome the usual and discounted views. We see it, for example, in the invitation addressed to Peter to cast the nets:
“(Jesus) educates his passion, trains his gaze to a projected horizon that no one had called him up until then. And the confidence of this man finds an unexpected range, precisely because he does not hide his limit, his uncertainties and defeats: “we toiled, we took nothing” (Lk 5,4-5), but delivers himself to the Other of which he caught a glimpse of an entirely new ability to be with people, to love them and find them.».
Jesus invites, therefore, to look over, but at the same time he accompanies to have a new stance on things, on the facts and, above all, on people: to look at religion, at tradition, at social relationships according to a view to potential, of chances of full and authentic life and not according to a perspective of loyalty to traditions or correspondence to rules.
4. Abduction (ab-ducere) indicates a shift of state or condition, but in the original meaning of the Latin word also meant “to disconnect, to remove, to divert, up to Cicero’s usage “to antagonize”.
Also with respect to this meaning, we can detect several episodes related in the Gospels in which Jesus personally carries out or invites to take steps of detachment from false certainties, of departing from the safe shores of a reassuring and protective normality. In a way He wants to say that those who put themselves in a dynamic educational development must take into account the ‘alienation ‘ or to be willing to pay the price of separation from the flock, from the thought of ‘everybody does it ‘, as a last resort to experience the loneliness that this separation often brings.
5. Translation (between-ducere) has the function to move on, to move beyond, to lead forward. Translating involves the ability to accompany, it requires knowledge and experience of the lands to cross and / or to reach. It’s a job that often takes place at the borders and requires the art of the “smuggler” (cfr. Conclusions and educational prospects of this text), that is, the ability not only to envisage new horizons of growth, but also to support the effort of transition and fear of the unknown. Even here we have a moving function, beyond the limits and defenses, beyond the fear and habit, toward the future to build rather than to the past to replicate.
We see this “translational” ability of Jesus especially in the mentoring service and interpretation of the meaning of existence in the light of a project of loving Alliance (cfr. the episode of the disciples of Emmaus, or the storm on the lake).
On several occasions reported in the Gospels Jesus uses the expression “do not fear”, not to reassure and comfort in nicely, but to confirm his empathetic, emancipatory presence aiming to grow into a dialogic and open, never delegating relationship!
6. The deduction (de-ducere). The particle ‘de’ indicates its origin, the source. In that regard, the reference and the recall of the de-ducere is to one’s own history; it urges the surfacing to consciousness of the founding values, of the reference models, the conceptions of the person and of society of which you are sons and heirs. De-ducere demands, according to this understanding, to consider the roots of various kinds which one is engaged to and without which it is not possible today to think themselves branches of and to think about fruits.
The prefix ‘de’ connotes, however, the education also of a subtractive character: it recalls, then, the removal and / or detachment from a reference model; it is a take away, as to remove from the earth or to launch .
In this second perspective, Jesus is proposed as a “starter”, as one who is in charge of the launching of the ship that is of the growth and development. To exercise to observe together the reality; to learn how to read it amidst the action and contexts of life, to urge continuous comparisons between what we are and what we could be, He helps to detect what remains and what has changed, in what everyone recognizes himself, and what creates discrepancy, what confirms and what denies as individuals and as communities.
The exercise of a deductive relational dynamic thus becomes for each partner who meets Jesus, an opportunity to verify oneself, to resume the identity and / or the contextual traits on which to intervene in order to modify or confirm them; to choose who to be; to explore possible worlds, to try to free the potential in each … ultimately to grow.
7. The production. (pro-ducere) indicates the carry on, but also to present, to exhibit, to show forth and to grow. To produce does not refer to the manufacture of objects, but, in our discourse, it refers to birth, bringing into the world, to the revelation of what is in the dark. As a true educator, Jesus in person facilitates the passage from the shadows of anonymity and insignificance in the light scenes of authentic and meaningful existence. He accompanies the blossoming of everyone’s personality allowing the let go, facilitating the handling of what has been learned and / or internalized or putting into practice, the unfolding in the existential journey of what one is capable of doing, of what one is willing to give to contribute to the growth and improvement of life of the world.
Metaphors for envisioning themselves again adult educators in the style of Jesus
How to rethink ourselves Josephites educators considering at the one hand the inspiration and reference sections that come from Jesus’s life and at the other hand the demands and challenges coming from modernity?
The invitation is to re-unite a presence and a company of us adults with young people according to less traditional forms, freed from that gigantism that often characterizes the assumption of the educational role according to which everything depends on us and we are accountable for everything .
There may come in handy, for that end, the use of two metaphors that seem particularly effective: that of the pilgrim and of the “smuggler”.
1. To be there with young … .as wayfarers pilgrims
That of a pilgrim, even more than the teacher or guide, is the image that best sums up the role to which the adult educator is called today. The pilgrim, in fact, is a wanderer, journeying, subject to all the risks and contingencies of the trip, but aware of the direction to take. Totally different is the tramp who lives by his wits, he feels self in front of any institution and authorities in developing the sense of his own life or his own code of ethics. The existential project of a tramp has the breath of a day, his deed is exhausted in the act, while the pilgrim runs along the paths of the seasons, it is enriched by the encounters and the journey done with others, finds meaning in the goal to reach.
“Every adult is called to take care of the younger generation, and become an educator when he assumes the tasks related with the proper preparation and responsibly. The educator is a witness of truth, beauty and goodness, conscious that their humanity is both wealth and limit. This makes him humble and always looking for.
Educator is he who is able to give a reason for the hope that animates him and is driven by the desire to transmit it. The passion for education is a vocation, which manifests itself as an art wisdom acquired over time through experience gained in the school of other masters. “.
2. To be there with young … exerting against them the art of the “ smuggler”
Young people often live the experience of adult’s betrayal who keeps to himself, does not let go, does not allow to be. Or they are ‘confused’ or blocked as the directions to be taken are pre-defined by the adults who often indicate obliged ways or prohibitions. Not infrequently, finally, vital contexts that the younger generations are yearning to explore and to live are previously ‘reclaimed’ by the adult who, by doing so, plans to preserve, to defend, indemnify and protect the youngsters entrusted to him.
But is this the function sought today from us adult educators?
In our opinion it is possible to take a different presence, and apply a new educational function: that of the “smuggler”:
«It is a precious art that of letting go, of companionship and to challenge to go further. The art of the “smuggler”. The adult generation in the time of uncertainty has to relearn the art of the smuggler who accompanies to the border, indicating the new frontier, while walking down the difficult path together with those seeking and those who will enter the new land. Being on the path he points out the risk of falling, the fatigue in insisting, the attention and beauty to interpret the signs and watch new landscapes that open. Then, on the border, he sends them over. The adult “ smugglers” are growers of hope, because they are reliable women and men, who do not abandon you, they accompany you and then let you go. They have gained the essentiality of the useless servant ”
At Jesus’ school we learn, then, how a real education – not reduced to a technique, but taking charge of the other’s life-occurs only where the teacher does not make himself the horizon of the other, when he invites to push the look and desire to a reality beyond the narrow confines of one’s self. Jesus, like a true “smuggler”, educates us by inviting us and taking us to move towards a ‘Beyond’ consisting of ‘New Earth ‘ i.e. of that space of humanization that each of us can dwell taking care of others and opening themselves to fraternal reciprocity.
Paths for reflection and deepening
1) Which / incident / s narrated in the Gospels, in your opinion emerges, more clearly and effectively the educational style adopted by Jesus? What does it say to the JOSEPHAN educator of Today?
2) What does it mean to take, as educators, a style of a ‘Pilgrim’ and to exercise the art of ‘the smuggler ‘?
ACTIVITIES in order to continue to reflect and to grow together as educators
Both personally and as a group, the educational teams of the institutes can make periodic checks by comparing their practices with the methodological specificity of the educational style of Jesus as presented in the text above (see section “educational forms”).
What will emerge from the reflection and comparison will be helpful to give new meaning to the motivations and an educational impetus to re-animate the relationships, to reorient the action.
The following diagram can be helpful for the suggested activities :
|Characteristic features of Jesus’ educational style||Projections for our experience of educators||Projections for improvement
(actions, initiatives to be put in place to grow as educators at the school of Jesus
With the style of Jesus
From the style of Jesus
 Le varie coniugazioni deducibili dal verbo “Ducere” sono state prese in prestito da g. contessa, L’animazione. Manuale per animatori professionali e volontari, ed. CittàStudi, Milano 1996, 71-73.
 G. Pirozzi, «Le relazioni educative nello stile della centralità della persona», in aa.vv., Cammini Formativi per educatori e operatori nell’accoglienza», ed. lem, Roma 2007, 68.
 L. Diliberto, L’arte dell’incontro. Essere educatori alla scuola di Gesù, ed. AVE, Roma 2011, 53.
 G. Pirozzi, «Le relazioni educative nello stile della centralità della persona», cit., 66.
 G. Pirozzi, Declinazioni formative per la scuola che vogliamo. Riflessioni sul senso ed il valore della formazione scolastica per re-immaginare responsabilità educative inedite in un tempo di crisi e di vulnerabilità sociale, in Nuova Secondaria Ricerca, Ed. La Scuola, Brescia 2014, n°2/ott.,16.
 Le immagini del vagabondo e del pellegrino sono state prese a prestito da: G. Notari, «Quali sfide per una narrazione efficace della buona notizia?», Relazione tenuta al convegno regionale delle équipes degli uffici diocesani della Sicilia nel gennaio 2009.
 Conferenza Episcopale Italiana, Educare alla vita buona del vangelo, 29.
 I. Lizzola, «Sei appigli per farsi esperti in un tempo di incertezza», Animazione Sociale 2013 (271), 77.