The Gift Of Leadership
Twenty-Sixth Week of Year II Saturday October 1, 2016
The Responsorial sees God’s light shining through afflictions to teach us wisdom and discernment: “Lord, let your face shine on me” (Psalm 119).
Job 42: 1-16 gives a happy ending to the book. It is not just that “the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his earlier ones.” The real benefit was that Job did indeed learn wisdom from his afflictions. He affirms God’s wisdom as beyond all human understanding: “I have dealt with things I do not understand.” He underscores the importance of spiritual experience as opposed to just “learned” religion: “I had heard of you by word of mouth, but now my eye has seen you.” Afflictions force us to get down to what is real in our religion, and to make real for ourselves what we have only heard and passively accepted. When things get tough, we need knowledge of God that comes through personal interaction: “Lord, let your face shine on me.”
This is the source of and key to leadership in the Church. Authorities who are not gifted with leadership can remind us of rules and reiterate received policies. But leaders are those who see with spiritual and practical understanding how the rules should be applied to concrete situations, and what new policies need to be created. The Church “brought together in unity by the Holy Spirit“1 in Vatican Council II, urged the laity through the united voices of all her bishops to lift up their own voices in leadership to help authorities guide the “pilgrim Church.”
This council urges all concerned to remove or correct any abuses, excesses or defects which may have crept in here or there, and so restore all things that Christ and God be more fully praised.2
In laity and clergy alike, the principle requirement for this is wisdom and prayerful discernment. “Lord, let your face shine on me.”
In Luke 10: 17-24 the seventy disciples report, “Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!” Jesus answers, “See, I have given you authority… over all the power of the enemy….” Note that these disciples were all laity. They had the authority that comes just from the fact of being sent on mission,3 as all do who are consecrated stewards of the kingship of Christ by Baptism, charged to establish the reign of God on earth. This is the authority, not of official position, but of de facto leadership.
The laity are given this special vocation: to make the Church present and fruitful in those places and circumstances where it is only through them that it can become the salt of the earth. Thus all lay people, through the gifts which they have received, are at once the witnesses and the living instruments of the mission of he Church itself. 4
Many Catholics, infected by the spirit of “clericalism,” leave all leadership to priests and bishops, which is a cop-out contrary to the Gospel. To be faithful stewards we need to work for change in Church and in society by exercising leadership ourselves and by recognizing and accepting it in other lay Christians. For this we need to pray constantly, “Lord, let your face shine on me.”
1Eucharistic Prayer II. 2 See Vatican II, “Church,” no. 51. 3See Luke 10:16, 19; Xavier Leon-Dufour: Dictionary of the New Testament, “authority.” 4Vatican II, “Church,” no. 33.
Initiative: Be Christ’s steward. Seek union with God’s heart and lead.