A Reflection on the Readings for the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, October 17, 2021
Reading I: Isaiah 53:10-11
Responsorial Psalm: 33:4-5, 18-19, 20, 22
Reading II: Hebrews 4:14-16
Gospel: Mark 10:35-45 or 10:42-45
This twenty-ninth Sunday of ordinary time, we are faced with this question of leadership as Jesus summoned the twelve and said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all.” (Mark 10:42–44)
This is a passage that often reveals the serious temptation that resides in humanity. It’s a temptation that we may all fall into at times, abuse of power, the lack of humble leadership.
If we look at the fall of lucifer and his demons it stems from the desire for power and to be served by others. It stems from pride, and this is a very real and powerful temptation that has come upon humankind since the fall from the Garden of Eden.
Even if we believe to be in no position of power or have rule over others, we all will most likely struggle with the desire for power in one form or another. It can happen in a friendship or within the family. Often it happens when there is the slightest disagreement about something, and it turns into wanting things to go our way. Simply put, we want to be in charge, in control. If we examine life itself for each of us, do we enter into relationships with the desire to serve others and to humbly submit to the others’ will? I would have to admit that it is very hard to live with that lifestyle 24-7. It is always much easier to be in charge, and we may think it saves headaches and time to be the boss and dictate to others what is expected or what we desire to take place in any given situation. In reality, it usually creates resentment or breeds contempt.
Jesus himself models Christian authority and leadership centered on love and humility. This leadership can win over hearts, minds and wills. It is a leadership that invites others to follow a desire for charity and love.
One of the best examples of this kind of charity and love is Saint Francis of Assisi, whose feast we celebrated at the beginning of October. Saint Francis of Assisi’s bold leadership mirrored the life of Christ; he set aside his worldly goods and his elevated family status and gave himself over to the will of God. He always gave without a sense of self-importance, and his approach to spreading the Gospel was to propose Jesus. He recognized that faith could only be proposed; it can never be imposed. There is and continues to be much good attributed to Saint Francis; even in death, he teaches and leads the faithful.
Today let us reflect on how we lead others. Do we desire to be the one in charge and do we have the expectation that others will follow because of our authority? Or do we desire to lead others by humility and love, therefore, drawing them to Christ through our humble kindness and charitable love? Let us commit ourselves to Christian leadership as Jesus intended. If we do, we will be amazed at its effect on our family, friends, and community.
The peace and love of Christ,
Deacon Jeff Borski