John's Jottings

31st Sunday in OT, 2017

Malachi 1:14b-2:2b,8-10, 1 Thessalonians 2:7b-9,13, Matthew 23:1-12


The other morning at Panera Bread I overheard a couple of gentleman talking “God stuff” and about the book they were reading, when they got up to leave I asked about the book they were discussing which started up an interesting conversation.  One of the men was a pastor and so of course we began to compare notes about our Churches and how awesome our parishioners are.  He mentioned to me about how many times Jesus speaks to His Disciples specifically and gave them lessons for their future leadership and that proved to be a Holy Spirit moment because todays reading are an example of this.  

The reading from the prophet Malachi is to the Priests of the Temple are called out and challenged.  St. Paul’s reading is not as specific to leadership, but he talks to the leadership by saying how leaders are to act.   In the Gospel Jesus speaks to the crowd but Matthew very clearly has Jesus specifically speaking to His disciples.

These readings challenged me, and I hope all the other priests were preparing their Sunday homilies.  It sounds a bit self-centered to read these readings as specifically for the leadership, e.g.: priest, Bishops and so on, but ultimately what we learn is that it is all about you my friends.

The prophet Malachi teaches the priest of his time to listen, lay God in their heart, to give glory to God and keep the covenant.  St. Paul teaches that leadership is to be gentle and affecianate, not distant and aloof, but to share their very selves.  

In the Gospel Jesus is introduced as speaking to the crowd, but Matthew adds “and to his disciples” it was a call for those early leaders to listen especially closely to what he was about to say.   Jesus was reprimanding the scribes and Pharisees for how they cared for and lead those they were supposed to be ministering to.  Jesus was specifically saying to his disciples, do not to lead and minister this way.  He was calling for humility and sacrificial caring.  Jesus was challenging his disciples to make their teachings and actions coincide with each other.  To critically look at oneself and the public example we make.  In other words, is our life a reflection of who Jesus Christ wants it to be?  Do we take too much stock in the status of our position?

As leadership in the Church we are being challenged by Jesus to be men and women of prayer because that is how we listen to God, to listen to the teachings of the Church and to listen to the people around us because often that is how we hear God.  We are called to humility, knowing our place as servant leaders, giving our whole self to our work, to rejoice in the suffering and the distractions and who knows… to have the honor to die for all of you.  

But… this Gospel is not just to me and the professional leadership of the Church, because most of you are in leadership of some kind, learn and live it when you are  at work, as you lead as parents and coaches and so on.  

Anyway, pray for your leadership in the Church, Satan is always on the prowl to tempt us to be less than what we are called to be, and I am sure you want your Pope, your Bishops, your priests, your deacons and religious to be holy because if they are not striving for holiness it leaves too much room for the evil one to enter into them and in turn into the Church.   We will not be perfect, so we also ask your forgiveness and compassion.  

Let me leave you with the promises and the questions priests make at their ordination:  Do you resolve to keep forever the commitment (of celibacy) as a sign of dedication to Christ the Lord for the sake of the kingdom, in the service of God and man?  Do you promise to live simply, giving up all for the Kingdom and focus on serving Gods people?  Do you promise to be obedient to the Bishop and the Church?  Do you promise to be men of prayer and to minister the sacraments and preach the Word for the sanctification of all Christian people?  Above all they are called to be united more closely every day to Christ the High priest, who offered himself for us to the Father as a pure sacrifice, and with him to consecrate oneself to God for the salvation of all.
Now that I told you this, be nice when you challenge me to be that kind of leader, that kind of priest.


God Bless all of you,

Fr. John, O.S.B.


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