Today is the feast of St. Matthias, who was elected to replace Judas as one of the Apostles. In his homily for the feast, Archbishop Wuerl pointed out that before Matthias became an apostle he was a disciple and so all of us have that in common with him. If we are disciples than we are people with a mission and all of us share the same mission–to bear Christ to the world. What makes discipleship so beautiful is that all of us do that in quite different and unique ways.
Sharing in the teaching ministry of Christ
A few months back I wrote about nominations for the Golden Apple Award which recognizes excellence among Catholic School teachers. Last night I was able to join the celebration of the ten educators who received 2010 Golden Apples. Each of the recipients are pretty impressive, from the twenty-two year veteran in the kindergarten classroom to the former volunteer with Blessed Theresa and the Missionary of Charities who now teaches Catholic social teaching at Archbishop Carroll High School. All of the winners spoke of their job as a vocation and Archbishop Wuerl commented on a second common characteristic–they all share in the teaching ministry of Christ.
Chipping away until there is nothing but Christ
Archbishop Wuerl told the story of the students of Michelangelo who asked the great master how, when he faced the huge block or marble that became the Pieta, did he ever imagine the figure of Christ. He is said to have replied, “I chipped away until I had nothing but Christ.” The Archbishop suggested that the teaching vocation is in part the work of forming disciples by chipping away all that is not Christ.
The universal call to holiness
This “chipping away” is not just the work of teachers, but of all who take seriously the spiritual life. Some of our un-Christ-like attitudes and habits can seem as impenetrable as a piece of marble and yet if we can carry in our minds an image of the Christ who lives within us, we may be more brave about picking up the chisel. Chipping away also reminds us that the spiritual life is a work in progress, we ought not to rush it by seeking that “big moment of conversion” or become complacent that we have arrived. Imagine if the Pieta was just the figure of our Blessed Mother?