Wednesday of the Twenty-first Week in Ordinary Time (August 30, 2017): True Christian leadership.

Thứ Ba, 29-08-2017 | 16:10:52

Today’s Readings:
1 Thessalonians 2:9-13
Ps 139: (1) 7-12
Matthew 23:27-32

USCCB Podcast of the Readings:

A reading from the Holy Gospel according Matthew.

Jesus said,
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.
You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside,
but inside are full of dead men’s bones and every kind of filth.
Even so, on the outside you appear righteous,
but inside you are filled with hypocrisy and evildoing.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.
You build the tombs of the prophets
and adorn the memorials of the righteous, 
and you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors,
we would not have joined them in shedding the prophets’ blood.’
Thus you bear witness against yourselves
that you are the children of those who murdered the prophets;
now fill up what your ancestors measured out!”

Good News Reflection: 

Our first reading today shows us what true Christian leadership is like. It means working “day and night” (i.e., endlessly and tirelessly) to serve, not burden, the Body of Christ. Truly Christian leaders (whether priests, bishops, superiors, CEOs, business managers, or lay people heading ministries) serve devoutly, justly and blamelessly, replacing the desire to control with the desire to empower. The preaching of Christ is made real by living what we exhort others to do.

Putting this into context with the bigger picture of the full Gospel, we know that Saint Paul was not implying that we must work every day and night, without rest. We become a burden to others when we work too fast and too long and become too tired to remain devout, just, and blameless. Even Jesus took time off to have his energy restored.

The Gospel reading today shows us what false (or tired) Christian leadership is like. What appears to be holy on the outside is merely a whitewashed wickedness. The light of Christ, which might actually be there, is blocked by wrong motives, pride, a desire to be superior and control others, and other vocation abuses. False Christian leaders mask the darkness within by painting themselves in white. It’s an attempt to fake the light of Christ. Their own efforts will bear witness against them.

We are all called to be Christian leaders in one place or another, serving the kingdom of God in our homes, our workplaces, our community, and anyplace else where we have the opportunity to set a good example. In everything, we are all called to be God’s instruments in this world, making a difference devoutly, justly and blamelessly, preaching not so much by what we say but more by the way we live the faith.

As St. Paul said, the word of God must be at work in us if we’re true believers in Christ. Do we really believe in his way of living out the message of salvation? None of us are perfect. Although we desire to be holy, we sometimes fail because of wrong motives, pride, and other abuses of our Christian vocations. If we are not changed daily by the truth in the scriptures, if we are not transformed by the Eucharist, if we are not examining our consciences continually and seeking new ways to grow in holiness, then we slip into hypocrisy.

What will you do today to help others experience Jesus? We won’t be successful unless we first humbly recognize the ways we have become hypocrites.

Today’s Prayer:

My Lord: Help me discover the corrections that You want to make in me, when you let me go through trials. I thank You and praise You because You draw me closer to You, with the Father’s true love. Amen.

© 2017 by Terry A. Modica

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