Their faces are registering complete shock.
Personally, I’m a little taken aback that what I said is so surprising to them.
“How can homework make us holy?”
“Do you want to do homework?”
“Yes….er, no,” my student responds, wavering, it seems, between what he feels he should say and what is actually the truth. “No, I don’t.”
“So doing your homework would mean you are going against your own will and desire to do what you should do.”
“So we are supposed to stab ourselves in the arm?!”
“Doing your homework is a bit different than stabbing yourself in the arm. I’m not saying you need to intentionally inflict pain upon yourself so that you suffer. Simply accept the suffering that comes your way and offer it to God. Choosing to do your homework when you don’t want to means saying no to your own will and yes to God’s will. Right now you are to be a student. God isn’t requiring that everyone gets a 4.0 GPA, but He does want you to do the very best that you can.”
How often we fail to see the ordinary, inconvenient, monotonous tasks of the day as paths to sanctity! We want something extraordinary. Lord, give us some big task, some grandiose mission and we will fulfill it for You! Instead, we are given long lines at the grocery store, disobedient children, laundry, and snow shoveling. They don’t seem quick paths to holiness, but the Lord only entrusts big missions to those who are faithful in small matters.
If the cross my students carry is homework, my cross is found in grading their homework and tests. It is easy to push it aside, to think I have far better things to do. Yet, in a way that I don’t fully understand, my holiness can be brought about in grading the 63rd paper about the Shroud of Turin or test over the arguments for God’s existence. Somewhere in the monotony of that work, I can utter with my actions, “Not my will, but Thy will be done.”
So homework, study guide writing, end of the year planning, and room cleaning here I come. And somewhere in the midst, may sanctity be found.