Saturday, October 22, 2011

Thirty-First Sunday of the Year A: Reflections- Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo
Readings: Mal 1; 14b–2:2b, 8-10; Ps 131:1-3; 1 Thess 2: 7b-9, 13 and Matt 23:1-12

Models of Leadership: Christ and  Saint Paul

The readings of today basically reminds us that those who have been entrusted with a given office of responsibility in the Church, in the Community or society at large, must carry out their responsibilities with humility, rather than arrogance and self-aggrandizement.

In the fifth Century BC Prophet Malachi reminded his contemporaries especially  the priest that they must refrain from corruption, keep the Sinaitic Covenant, walk with the Lord in humility and refrain from showing bad examples and causing others to falter.

Similarly, Jesus towards the end of his earthly ministry warned his disciples of the importance of evangelizing, teaching the gospel with love, even when he will no longer be there with them, physically (cf John 13). They must not behave like the priest of the time of Prophet Malachi nor like the Pharisees and the Scribes.

 These poor leaders and selfish leaders “tie up heavy burdens hard to carry and lay them on people’s shoulders; they will  not lift a finger to move them. All their works are performed to be seen.” Not motivated by passion for Christ and the community they are called to humbly serve. As if these were not enough, “they like places of honor (front seats) at banquets as well in the synagogues,” where they will be seen, and not where Christ will be seen better nor serve better with humility.

On the other hand, true disciples and prophets must be willing to listen  to God, put God first,  , communicate godliness, give glory to God always recognizing that Christ is the only teacher (Matt 23:9). Jesus summarizes his instruction to the disciples saying, “The greatest among you must be your servant” (v 11).

In the same manner, Paul reminds us of his own behavior of service and leadership to the Thessalonians Community. While exercising our positions and duties be it in our families, in the church or government we must do it with the love of a good “nursing mother”. She cares tenderly for the child. She labors, she toils, bathes, cleans feeds the baby with love (I Thess 2:7b-9).

 Again, when we lead, teach humbly and preach with love, sense of true friendship, showing good examples, as witnesses and servants of the word, the message will be received not as “human word, but as it truly is, the Word of God,” (1 Thess 2:13).

For the priests, pastors and teachers, staff and faculty members in the Seminaries, the particular impact will be felt not only in the Seminaries and churches communities but also in the society at large.

Let us pray at this worship that in various places of leadership we may imitate the examples of Christ and St. Paul, not the Pharisees and the Scribes, as our models for loving, humble and selfless services.