When she was asked why Our Lady would have chosen to appear to her, St Bernadette’s response was “because there was no one more lowly in Lourdes, if there had been, she’d have appeared to them instead”. This makes perfect sense. Bernadette was not educated, she was 14 when Our Lady appeared to her, but with all the school she missed due to her poor health, she had the academic ability of the average six year old. At least, this is what we are lead to believe.
Bernadette had no confidence in her ability to do anything at all. In a conversation with the Bishop of Nevers she confessed she was ‘good for nothing’, the bishop corrected her as he had seen with his own eyes she was good at scraping carrots.
However, it was Bernadette to whom Our Lady imparted her message, no great theologian, no one of education at all, but a simple country girl who in the third millennium would be receiving help from the Learning Support department in school.
Lucia dos Santos and her cousins Francisco and Jacinta Marto were not of a scholarly persuasion either. While Lucia was articulate for someone of her background, she and her two cousins were illiterate. Lucia was asked by Our Lady to learn to read and write, an idea that was not pleasing to her mother.
When Peter and John appear before the Sanherdrin (Acts 4:13) they surprise everyone with their ability to convey their message, their lack of education is noted by those who hear them speak.
We also see in the Gospels how Jesus is referred to as “the carpenter’s son” not the scholar of any notable rabbi of the time.
What does this tell us? It tells us when God has a message for us, he will use a messenger pleasing to him, not someone who conforms to the standards of mankind. We as humans expect our education to come from people who are educated, trained in their specialism. God has other ideas, which our human fallibility can make it hard to have faith in.
The devil will use that. Sadly he’ll use our faith in others with whom we share tastes to spread the not so good news and dissent. For example, he’ll send someone to say “don’t bear false witness” when they themselves have been guilty of a cover up, and the Church has suffered greatly because of such manoeuvres. He’ll send someone to say “don’t get involved in fights” when they themselves are among the most pugnacious of characters. But God will send someone who can quietly convey his will for all to hear.
We must always be on our guard against our own vanity and personal tastes, but more importantly we must have faith in the people God sends us, no matter how hard we find their words.