We begin Part Three (137-162) of the GDC with this post. Word hounds may know the Greek origin of “pedagogy,” to lead the child, referring to the practice of accompanying one’s charge in the pilgrimage of education and formation. Pedagogy in this context treats the theory and practice of forming believers in the faith. It applies, hopefully in our parishes, to a wider clientele than just children.
The GDC offers a few illustrative Scripture quotations before starting an examination of catechetical pedagogy with a Scripture-laced first paragraph:
“Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk, I took them up in my arms; but they did not know that I healed them. I lead them with cords of compassion, with the bands of love, and I became to them as one who eases the yoke on their jaws, and I bent down to them and fed them” (Hos 11:3-4).
“And when he was alone, those who were about him with the twelve asked him concerning the parables. And he said to them, ‘to you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God’”. “But privately to his own disciples he explained everything” (Mk 4:10-11, 34).
“You have one Master, the Christ” (Mt 23:10)
137. Jesus gave careful attention to the formation of the disciples whom he sent out on mission. He presented himself to them as the only teacher and, at the same time, a patient and faithful friend. (Cf. Jn 15:15; Mk 9:33-37; 10:41-45) He exercised real teaching “by means of his whole life”. (Cf. Catechesi Tradendae 9) He stimulated them with opportune questions. (Cf. Mk 8:14-21; 8:27) He explained to them in a more profound manner what he had proclaimed to the crowds. (Cf. Mk 4:34; Lk 12:41) He introduced them to prayer. (Cf. Lk 11:1-2) He sent them out on a missionary apprenticeship.(Cf. Lk 10:1-20) He promised to them the Spirit of his Father whom he sent to bring them to the complete truth, (Cf. Jn 16:13) and to sustain them in inevitable moments of difficulty. (Cf. Mt 10:20; Jn 15:26; Acts 4:31) Jesus Christ is “the Teacher who reveals God to Man and Man to himself, the Teacher who saves, sanctifies and guides. He is the Teacher who lives, who speaks, rouses, moves, redresses, judges, forgives and walks with us day by day on the path of history. He is also the Teacher who comes and will come in glory”. (Catechesi Tradendae 9) In Jesus Christ, Lord and Teacher, the Church finds transcendent grace, permanent inspiration and the convincing model for all communication of the faith.
An apt beginning. Jesus is not only the model for all of us in living the Christian life. Jesus is the model catechist, and we look to him for the basis of Christian pedagogy–how to teach. Jesus Christ is both practice and theory for the Church.
You might share my inclination to skip over those quotations at the beginning. The Hosea passage is extremely illustrative. The bishops chose to illustrate Christ’s teaching method not with a quotation from the Law, but from the Prophets. And not just any prophet, but one (who along with Jeremiah) offers the most tender emotional plea for intimacy and compassion. God is at one with the people chosen. The ideal catechist, one might say, is as close with her or his charges.