Twenty-FifthSunday in Ordinary Time
The leader according to the Gospel
He was teaching his disciples and telling them, “The Son of Man is to be handed over to men and they will kill him, and three days after his death he will rise.” But they did not understand the saying, and they were afraid to question him. They came to Capernaum and, once inside the house, he began to ask them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” But they remained silent. They had been discussing among themselves on the way who was the greatest. Then he sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.” Taking a child he placed it in their midst, and putting his arms around it he said to them, “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the one who sent me.” Mk 9,31-37
If we put together a certain number of people – be they men, women or children – and we say to them: “We must implement a certain project, organize you!”, the first thing which they do is to choose a leader. The charisma of the leader is a God-given talent and it is right to cause it to be fruitful. He knows his responsibilities, he knows how to choose his collaborators, he organizes and coordinates their work. The leader sees and reads the project before the others, so as to anticipate the problems and to be prepared to deal with them when they arise. The charisma to lead the work of others is a precious gift and it cannot be hidden under the ground, as in the parable of the talents, the slothful servant, who had received one talent to make money, does: the Lord asks for dynamics. It is right that the person who has received the charisma of the leader, whatever the context in which he acts would be – family, professional, social or church – makes it to yield. In the today gospel, however, Jesus presents the way to be leader in the Spirit, subverting the mentality of the world: “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all”. And then – and here we are at the center of charisma – he teaches not to coordinate the collaborators as professionals, but to welcome them with the same love with which you greet the children: “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the one who sent me”. And thus the circle is closed: by operating in our work in a spirit of service and hospitality, we returned to God the talents which God has given us. In the gospel of John, Jesus mentions as an example of his mode of control himself in the episode of the washing of the feet: ” So when he had washed their feet (and) put his garments back on and reclined at table again, he said to them, “Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do” (Jn 13,12-15). It is an exhortation easy to understand, but difficult to be put into practice. But you have to do it, because it is linked to the bliss of the Kingdom: “If you understand this, blessed are you if you do it” (Jn13,17). Prayer: “Lord, when, in the project of life which you have prepared for me, I am called to be a leader, give me the spirit of the servant and of the love for my collaborators. When I am called to be a collaborator, also give me the spirit of service and love for my superiors. Whatever my role is, give me, Lord, to see you in the people with whom I am called to collaborate so that I can be a good worker in your Kingdom”.