“Children learn more from what you are than what you teach.” ~ W.E.B. DuBois
Bishop Grutka, the first bishop of the Diocese of Gary, was known for saying “It’s not what you know. It’s what you show.” He would use that phrase at homilies, at speeches, in presentations, and at all sorts of meetings. It was a mantra for him and he tried to live by it as well as speaking it to others.
DuBois states the same thing when writing that “Children learn more from what you are than what you teach.” We all know that children are great watchers. They take the time to watch and examine situations and people. They learn from doing so.
If someone they watch sends them mixed messages, saying one thing but doing another, they will almost always opt for what the person is doing rather than what the person is saying. That is why it is so hard for a parent to instruct a child not to smoke if the parent smokes on a regular basis. It is hard to tell a child not to indulge in alcohol if the child sees a drink in the parent’s hands every day and at a variety of occasions.
As I quote from the first bishop of our diocese, I am thinking about our fifth bishop. His coat of arms, as well as the coat of arms of the diocese, appears on the cover of today’s bulletin. After the evening prayer the day before his ordination, I texted him, “If tonight’s homily is any indication of what we’re going to be hearing from you on a regular basis, I’m all in.” His homily was very personable as well as welcoming and hopeful. It was also very sound in its theology.
There were all sorts of visiting bishops and clergy at the evening prayer as well as the ordination this past Tuesday. It was a wonderful day, a day of promise and hope. And just as we have done with all of our other bishops, I am sure that we will engage in a period of watching to see if his actions indeed reflect his words.
I am confident that they will do so. He is a man who is grounded solidly in the faith and in prayer. He is a man who loves his vocation and who loves his people. He is a person we will come to know and trust and love in return.
While watching him to see if his actions reflect his words, let us turn that same watchful eye inward. Do we do what we say? Do we live as people of the faith? Do we show others the way to the Lord by all that we say and do? People will learn more from us by what we say and do rather than what we claim to be.
FAITH ACTION: Do not be afraid to reflect the faith that you claim by doing works of compassion, mercy, and love. You will draw others closer to God by doing so.