The Holy Spirit, our Teacher

When I was in my twenties, for three years I lived in Spain, teaching English. For two years I was teaching in a language  academy in the city of Jaen in Andalucia . I felt rather sorry for the children, that after school they had to come to extra classes when they should have been out playing, but it was purgatory. The children did not want to learn, and I had no great desire to teach them.It was not a great combination. In contrast the adults who came to me for classes wanted to learn, it was a joy to teach themand see them become more fluent.

Jesus told his disciples that the Holy Spirit would teach them everything and remind them of all that he had told them.The Holy Spirit would be the source of all knowledge and the vital link to keep them connected with the teaching of Jesus.

The relationship of Jesus and his disciples was one of master and students.They were learning all the time from him. They asked him to teach them how to pray, just as John had taught his disciples. They were not always the brightest of students but they were still learning all the time they were with him, but his teaching only properly made sense looking back after his resurrection. They remembered what he had taught them, the oral tradition in the Jesus’ day being very strong, and their recollections were preserved by the evangelists.

Christians too are students, as disciples of Christ. But what sort of students are we. Are we attentive and eager, wanting to learn?Or are we lazy, disruptive, and unwilling to learn? Do we think we know all there is to know, that there is nothing more to learn? Are we still prepared to be taught by the Holy Spirit, and if so, how can the Spirit teach us?

The Holy Spirit leads us to a true understanding of God, by reminding us of all that Jesus has taught, and revealing to us the meaning of the gospel, especially after slow, prayerful reading.   

Albert Einstein said, ‘any fool can know, the point is to understand.’ The composer of Psalm 119  asked God to teach him his laws, and he would follow them to the end. If we understand the reason behind a law we are better able to keep it. We are better able to keep to the changing rules during lockdown if we understand the principles behind them. We know we have to keep them to protect ourselves and others.  The Holy Spirit reveals to us how we can live good lives by understanding the reasons for God’s commands.

The Holy Spirit can teach us if we humbly accept that we do not have all the answers to the issues and problems of life. How often, when do not know what to do, do we pray about it? The Holy Spirit restrains our anger and our harsh tongues, by reminding us of the teaching of Jesus. The Holy Spirit can stir us into action by showing us what needs to be done. We may just need to stop and be quiet and be open to the Spirit’s promptings.

It has been said that:  the mediocre teacher tells;

the good teacher explains;

the superior teacher demonstrates;

and the great teacher inspires.

Do you remember a great teacher who inspired you to want to learn as much as you could? Someone who influenced  your life?Teachers are not just academics, we may have known people who have taught us great lessons of life.

The Holy Spirit is our great teacher, who shows each of us, in our different ways, how we can live our Christian lives to our best potential. We are all students of Christ, but also teachers about Christ. We can remind each other about what he taught us. The Spirit gives us eloquence, he provides us with the right words to say at important moments. Jesus told the disciples not to worry about what to say when under trial, for the Holy Spirit would give them the words. 

When monks join a monastery they are told that their cell will teach them everything. Solitude, away from distractions, will open them up to the incisive teaching of the Holy Spirit. What are we learning in these times.

By being open to the education of the Spirit we can be opened up to all sorts of possibilities, as amazing as when the apostles were enabled to communicate with people of all nations in ways they could all understand.

The Holy Spirit has great power that can seem to come from nowhere: a few small words, can bring peace from conflict, and reconciliation from estrangement, he can transform despair into hope, sometimes just by changing our perspective to that of Christ.

The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery. There is so much for us all still to learn whatever our ages.

Let us pray that we may be willing, eager and diligent students of Christ.