The educational experience involves us deeply in our personal journey. Everything starts from personal experience, from letting ourselves to be educated , to feel loved by God. We are spiritually and emotionally involved. It is also very important reconcile ourselves with our difficulties and our failures. These too must enter more in the sharing among educators and training experiences. God loves us even though we are poor and sinners: the spiritual experience of Murialdo has an extraordinary relevance in this situation.

4.1. To feel loved by God

The experience of “to love and to be loved,” humanly and spiritually, is essential for the integral formation of the person. Every human being has an intrinsic need for this fundamental experience in his life. The experience of human and divine love are two facets of the same reality; one appeals the other, because they are part of the essence of God and consequently of the essence of each person, as a work of His creative love. This reality finds its foundation in the incarnation, where God decides to become human in Jesus to deify our humanity, craving for meaning.
Jesus is the truest and purest reflection of God’s pedagogical love, according to the evangelists’ narratives . Jesus engages a personalized relationship with people, with a compassionate, tender and educative love, like no other: with the sinful woman facing the condemnation of others, she is welcomed, forgiven and motivated by him to live a new life; Zacchaeus, deeply watched by the Master, welcomes him into his home and immediately changes his attitude toward others; the Samaritan woman, who engages in a genuine dialogue with Jesus, by allowing herself to be touched in her interiority, who discovers the true love of her life and becomes a faithful witness of his love; the disciples of Emmaus, who by recalling with Him the salvation history, experience the inner joy of his living presence, change sadness into hope and return to the mission.
Saint Murialdo experienced in his life the meaning of “to love and to be loved” from the maternal cradle to the end of his days. The merciful, tender and infinite love of God was for him the founding experience, from which emerges a life of faithfulness, donation and holiness. The experience of loving God and to be loved and to be led by the divine will, throughout his life, was for Murialdo the most perfect form of living his vocation and developing his apostolic mission according to the most emerging social causes of his environment and of his time, especially in the education of poor and abandoned youth, to educate by loving them.
Like those early followers of Jesus, like Saint Leonard Murialdo … we are today invited to have a personal encounter with Him, sharing His life, His mission and His destiny. This is the hallmark of the Christian faith. To be a true disciple of Jesus is not enough the acceptance of truths, it is necessary to deeply open to a personal relationship with God who reveals himself to us and who comes to us through Jesus, who educates us with his free and unconditional love and sends us on a mission: to love as He loved, to forgive as he forgave and to serve as He served.

4.2. To let ourselves be educated

God’s Word reminds us that God teaches his people through a personal and intimate love as a father or a mother educate their children (cf. Dt 32, 10-12; Job 5, 17; Jer. 31, 18 -20; Is 43.4; Os. 11,1-9; Jn. 3: 16; Matthew 5: 43-48; Eph. 3: 17-18; 1 Jn. 4: 7-11; Rev. 3, 19). By recalling, for example, the history of the People of Israel, we perceive that only the unshakable patience of God as an educator, makes the people rediscover their vocation to freedom and to resume the journey .
The educational action of God is a pedagogy of love full of exciting gestures and signs of mercy, affection, patience and forgiveness, manifested through many mediations, according to the narratives. God’s example as educator teaches us to persevere in the difficult and sometimes frustrating educational work; It invites us to re-launch a new and seductive educational proposal supported by the example and ardent hope in God who never abandons his people and who constantly educates him, loves him, corrects him and forgives him.
Murialdo is for us a great reference of someone who let himself be essentially educated by God’s love. He was listening and seeing the divine love in people and in the events of everyday life. For him, there was no educational value that drives more strongly the full realization of the person in all his dimensions than love.

Murialdo allowed himself to be educated and transformed by God’s compassionate and merciful love and saw Him on the faces of children and young people, welcoming them with gentleness, kindness, respect and familiarity, always attentive and concerned about their training and their salvation.
We learn only when we are open to learning, and this opening is a disposition that is born precisely from docility to the action of divine grace and from love and dedication in the educational task. For a Murialdine educator, it is essential to let himself be educated first of all by God’s love like the people of Israel, as Murialdo did ,through a spiritual life nourished by his Word and active participation in the ecclesial life. It is also important to allow ourselves to be educated through reciprocal sharing of life experiences and educational mission with other members of the educational community. To educate yourself by history, by the facts of daily life, by the people around us, by our students, through the moments of training and updating the institution provides us with
Certainly, this “knowledge to educate oneself ” requires from the educator a humble, docile and innovative spirit, and a critical measure in discerning what is good and what dampens his teaching, beginning from the principles of his formation and information, and to witness it with the life example. It requires, above all, the awareness that we are educators and pupils at the same time, always open “to what is new, “to the signs of the times. The true educator never tires of educating himself, of working continuously on himself.
While we educate others, we work simultaneously on our own personal education in order to fulfill our mission in clear, safe and lasting way. When we feel ourselves in a continuous and progressive learning and in a personal growth process, we also wake up in the other the desire and pursuit of new knowledge and experiences. In short, the real educator is one who teaches by learning, who proposes by assuming and pointing out the way, by walking together, as a result of unconditional love.

4.3.To reconcile oneself with one’s difficulties and failures

Only God can help us to look at and accept our personal history as a story of love and salvation, regardless of how it has been, and make love the main force that moves us and drives us to be and act like He. God is infinite and unconditional mercy, He is always ready to forgive us and to welcome us, regardless of our sins and He neither measures our sins, as Psalm 103 says, teaching us and leading us on the path of salvation.
It is not so simple and easy to accept the wounds of our personal history, the limits and failures, but we know that is wise and great in the eyes of God, he who humbly trusts himself in His merciful and provident hands, looking for help from other travelling brothers and sisters and he is willing, whenever necessary, to start again in life, in a continuous process of conversion, liberation and growth.
To allow ourselves to be transformed by His love, knowing that God loves us personally and in the present moment, in the situation we are living, although in sin, as Murialdo used to say, is the condition for us to transform ourselves into living expression of God’s love toward people around us, in the development of our educational mission. The limitation of the present moment contains the greatness of God’s love, Murialdo was saying. To believe in the personal and present love of God was for him to live the love of God in daily life, with all that life offers. It meant living every moment of life as if it were the only one. It was to discover the extraordinary love of God in the normality of life, emerging in the reality of the present moment, accepting it and living it in faith. For Murialdo, this present moment meant the duty, the tasks that the vocation and mission required.
Knowing himself in God and assuming his own humanity, thirsty for forgiveness and salvation, is the beginning of a process of conversion and of new life in his compassionate and merciful love. It is important to drop the masks with which we intend to hide ourselves, that is, the poverty of our being, the pettiness of our hearts and the hardness of our judgments, and let ourselves be embraced by the tenderness and the infinite mercy of God, He can act in our hearts and in our lives, transforming us into a living reflection of His educational love for others.

For deepening :
1. Reflect and share what specifically means in your personal experience “to let yoursel be educated” by God and by the various human (educational) events occurring
2. How is your personal experience of growth reflected in your educational mission?

Terezinha Militz

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