Some of the most meaningful learning opportunities can arise from what many call “teachable moments.” These unexpected occasions emerge naturally; though they do not always align with a teacher’s carefully crafted lesson plan, they can have a lasting impact.
A teacher seizing upon such a moment may allow space for an unanticipated discussion about how students are growing toward the Grad at Grad after a retreat or service trip. A coach seizing upon such a moment may set aside a great practice plan after reading cues that the team needs to focus more on teamwork and resilience than Xs and Os that day
In today’s Gospel the preeminent teacher, Jesus, did just this. He embraced a teachable moment, sending an enduring message of love and compassion.
The scene began when Jesus was teaching a large crowd of Pharisees and scribes. A couple of men carried their paralyzed friend to Jesus, but they found they could not get through the crowd. The unflappable friends forged their own path – they climbed to the roof and lowered their paralyzed friend down on a stretcher right in front of Jesus.
Jesus’ response was immediate. He forgave the men’s sins when he “saw their faith.” Later, he healed the paralytic with these words: “rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.”
In this miracle story, the master teacher welcomed an unexpected opportunity to teach a profound lesson. He honored the ingenuity, tenacity, and compassion of the friends who lowered the paralytic – because these gifts were borne of love and faith, he healed and reconciled. He also challenged the onlookers, who initially responded with criticism and judgement. “What are you thinking in your hearts?” he probed, addressing their interior
The master teacher embraced a teachable moment. He commended holy boldness. He confronted the onlookers who had hearts full of haughty judgment.
As the paralytic stood and walked out, stretcher in hand, “astonishment seized them all and they glorified God.” They were “struck with awe.”
My prayer this Advent season is that we can be transformed like the Pharisees. That compassion will supplant judgement in our hearts. And I pray that we act with holy boldness – the same zeal that lifted the men to the roof, lowered the paralytic before Jesus, and allowed him to
rise and walk.
Then we, too, may find that our own belief and awe will lead us to glorify God.
Dr. Erin Luby is the Principal at Seattle Prep. She also teaches Spanish as a member of the World Languages Department.