I chose these particular passages in the lectionary because they all connected in some way in my mind with teaching. The first two passages speak about false prophets and teachers and the last passage, from Mark, is about John the Baptist preparing the way for the great teacher, Jesus.
When I read this passage from Mark I couldn’t help but think about the student this semester in my class who had sat there for 2 months without saying much and then one day burst out, “There is injustice in the world because we are all sitting here doing nothing.” Everyone else was a little shocked, but several responded with, “Yes, but we need preparation in order to know what the right thing to do is.” I was so proud of them, they got it.
When I was in college I felt much the same way as the student who had burst out, I wanted action, and I felt I was wasting away sitting there in class. But so often when we act, because we have not spent the proper amount of time in preparation, we make things worse. False teachers and prophets are so dangerous because what they say has an element of underlying truth to it, and people follow because they recognize the truth when they see it. But it is the fruits of our actions that demonstrate whether or not our teachings are true or false. Only wisdom helps us discern the difference between false prophets and true prophets, and wisdom comes through preparation.
John the Baptist spent years preparing the people of Israel to hear the message of Jesus, and some responded to Jesus’ message because the way had been prepared by John the Baptist. Without this preparation, Jesus’ message would have fallen on deaf ears. But preparation is not a one time thing that one does in university or in prayer or meditation and then is done with. New lessons are constantly learned and applied and if we want to make a difference in the world, we have to spend time in preparation.