This an excellent quote from Augustine so relevant to the current conversations surrounding the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on Marriage and the family. But it occurs to me that there is a great lesson in school leadership here (especially Catholic school leadership) here as well.
I can’t count the number of times both in my classes at USF and in my own experience living and working in Jesuit schools, that this question has come up (and it comes up in secular school contexts as well): What do we do with so-and-so or that group (often identified according to the generation they were born into), who clearly is not an effective teacher (but the students love him and he is totally committed to the mission and lives it out in all sorts of powerful ways) or maybe is an excellent teacher (say in math or science – her students not only love her but love math and science!) but isn’t invested in the mission of the school? What should we do about these “bad apples” among the faculty and staff – these weeds among the wheat?
It seems to me there are RARE instances where the weed(s) must be plucked out for the safety and well-being of the wheat (our students). Sometimes teachers or staff should be fired and fired on the spot. But the vast majority of the time – despite what our basest desires might tell us – this is not the case.
In my experience, young teachers often complain about that one teacher who has been at the school forever, has lots of loyal friends among the older faculty, students, and alumni, and no matter how ineffective they are as a teacher and colleague, how thoroughly they want to spread their institutional cynicism and grouchy demeanor, how often they want to complain about something – anything! – they will never be fired, or forced into early retirement, etc. The frustration of the young teachers over this grumpy misanthrope is often placed on the Principal – the one charged with hiring and firing of staff. But perhaps we, as young teachers/administrators (yes, I still consider myself young), should think about these situations through the lens of Matthew 29:13f –
Let them grow together until the harvest lest you uproot the wheat when you pull out the weeds.
Not only that, but perhaps, even the weed – if left unplucked – can become a bit more like the wheat over time.
The Synod on the Family has been very much in the news lately, particularly with the release yesterday of the Relatio post disceptationem to the media. This document deserves careful discussion, as does its reception by various parts of the Church and by the secular media. (Indeed, it made the front page of my local paper today!) But very much related to the discussions about mercy, justice, gradualism and upholding Church teaching is the following passage from St. Augustine, which I found courtesy of the folks at the Daily Gospel Online:
Our Lord was an example of incomparable patience. He bore with a “devil” among his disciples even to his Passion (Jn 6,70). He said: “Let them grow together until the harvest lest you uproot the wheat when you pull out the weeds” (cf. Mt 13,29f.). As a symbol of the Church he preached that the net would bring…
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