Scripture: 1st Reading: 1Tim3,1-13; Resp. Psalm: Ps101,1-3,5-6; Gosp. Accl.: Lk7,16; Gospel: Lk7,11-17
The life of our Lord exemplified compassion, love, mercy. Our Lord put Himself always at the level of those suffering so that He could feel what they felt and thus be able to come to their aid. This is the mystery of the love and compassion of our merciful and kind God. Our Lord was that true and perfect Leader who led not just with the head but with the heart. He saw the needs of each one and met them.
The story of our Lord's encounter with the funeral procession of the deceased son of the widow of Nain is a classic example of His compassion. A compassionate person is one who suffers with the one suffering. Our Lird knew that this was the only son of his mother. Looking at that woman, our Lord must have thought of the fact that He was the only Son of His own mother.
Our Lord must have thought of the loneliness of that woman, the social stigma that being without child would put on her, the faith t that without her husband and only son, this woman would be treated unfairly by the masculine dominated world she lived in. Our Lord must also have intuited the kind of suffering His own mother would later go through on account of His own impending death.
Our Lord saw all of these and He decided to act. What He did was extraordinary. He raised the dead son back to life. He prefigured in that episode what would happen to Him at His own death. The word of God tells us today that when the young man sat up alive, fear seized them all and they exclaimed: "A great prophet has arisen among us!" and "God has visited his people." This is the kind of Leader our Lord was: one who was present to His people, who suffered with them, who knew their needs and met them.
This is why the qualities of a good Christian leader enumerated in our First Reading today must be deeply reflected on by every Christian leader. The word tells us that looking at the life of our Lord, Christian leadership is not a child's play. It is not a bed of roses. It is a responsibility that is great in the sight of God. This is because the true and authentic Christian leader does not choose himself but is chosen by God. He therefore stands in the place of Christ, shows the people he leads the will of God, demonstrates to them the primacy of love of God and neighbour.
Whoever leads others in the household of God, who stands in the place of Christ, must live life that is completely without reproach. The word today talks about the qualities of life that such leaders must possess or cultivate. They must be temperate, sensible, dignified, hospitable, apt teacher, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome and no lover of money. He must know how to manage his household, otherwise he cannot be expected to manage God's house well. He must have lived the life of faith for a considerable length of time. In summary, the leader must act like Christ in the midst of the people he is called to lead.
The task of working for God is therefore not a job. It is a calling, a vocation. One who does not realize this and thinks it is for personal gain may eventually lose his soul and have no reward. The word today is thus a warning that the work of God is never for filthy gains but to make Christ known, to lead on His behalf. That is the whole essence and purpose of Christian leadership.
St. Januarius who was the Bishop of Benevento during the persecution of Diocletian, was such a leader. He led the flock by the example of his life and died as a martyr for the faith he professed. Like him and in imitation of him, may Christian leaders heed the call of the Lord to live lives beyond reproach. May they always and everywhere be good examples that the flock can follow.
Let us pray: God our Father, you sent your Son into the world to demonstrate authentic leadership to us all. Give us your grace that we truly need to see leadership as service of your people and strengthen us to live lives that are beyond reproach. Amen.
May the living Word of God find a true dwelling place within our hearts and souls today and always.