We all teach, but this weekend thank those called as catechists

S ome people in the public eye behaved rather badly in recent days. In sports, there was Serena Williams, the magnificent tennis player, using foul language as she threatened to stuff a ball down the throat of a line judge who called her for an infraction near the end of a semifinal match at the U.S. Open. The next day, in the men’s championship, the great Roger Federer cursed at the chair umpire.

In politics, U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina drew a rebuke from the House of Representatives for shouting “You lie!” as President Barack Obama delivered a national address on health care reform last week. Being politics, whether the outburst was judged horrific or heroic often depended on party affiliation.

In entertainment, singer Kanye West spoiled recording artist Taylor Swift’s moment in the spotlight during Sunday’s MTV Video Music Awards by grabbing the microphone during her acceptance speech and declaring that another video should have won.

Most of us don’t live in the public eye. But we are being watched.

And here’s a good question to ponder this weekend: What is our behavior, our body language, our attitude, and, yes, our choice of words teaching those around us — our children, co-workers, spouse, classmates, neighbors, etc. — about Jesus Christ and his importance to us? Anything?

This Sunday is Catechetical Sunday, a time at the start of the religious education year to recognize, thank, and commission those who have been designated in our parishes and schools to formally instruct others in the Catholic faith. Some are paid, but many are volunteers in religious education efforts for both youth and adults.

These are people who may spend hours each week studying and then publicly proclaiming Christ and the teachings of the Church. They are in every parish, every Catholic school. And because of them, the faith is transmitted to the next generation. This weekend is for them. If your parish has a commissioning ceremony, take a moment after Mass to thank these heroes of our faith.

But Catechetical Sunday is also a wonderful opportunity to reflect upon the role that each person plays, by virtue of their baptism, in handing on the faith and being a witness to the Gospel. Sometimes that witness is obvious, as when we take our children to Mass or pray with friends in a time of need. More often it is subtle, seen by how we react under pressure, how we serve the less fortunate, how our words and actions match, how we use our gifts of time, talent and treasure.

Remember, we’re being watched. — Thomas J. Dermody

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