Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Ps 54:6,8; Jeremiah 23: 1-6; Ps 23: 1-3,3-4, 5,6; Eph 2: 13-18; Jn 20: 27; Mark 6: 30-34
LEADERS WHO SERVE AND LEAD
Leadership is the underlying theme of today’s readings. As Jeremiah shows, leaders do not always lead for the common good. As we know from experience, leadership takes many forms, from outstanding to practically non-existent, with many levels in between. We can usually identify a good leader from a bad one. A great leader is knowledgeable, communicates well, and cares about our input. We have many examples of good and bad leaders in our chaotic world.
In Jeremiah, we read, “Woe to the shepherds who mislead and scatter the flock of my pasture, says God… You have scattered my sheep and driven them away. You have not cared for them… I will appoint shepherds for them who will shepherd them so that they no longer fear and tremble, and none shall be missing…There are two prophetic statements in this first reading: God will appoint true shepherds, true, caring leaders and there will be a descendant of the line of David who will guide God’s flock and whose name will be our justice.”
Jesus demonstrates a different kind of leadership. In another reading, Jesus explains to the chosen disciples that to be a great leader means serving others, not lauding one’s position or oneself over others. Jesus and Robert Greenleaf’s ‘servant leader’ is one who goes out ahead and shows the way, serving all. It is the way of an ethical leader, a respectful leader, a quality-committed leader, and a leader who truly empowers others to be the same. (J. L. Evers in James E. Hennessey, Leadership, Ethics, Quality; Introduction, ii)
Jesus, the Good Shepherd, is the prototypical Servant Leader; leading a flock but caring for individuals.
In Mark’s Gospel, we see the caring part of Jesus’ leadership as he said to the apostles after they returned from their missions, “come away to a deserted place and rest awhile.” But when they arrived at the place, Jesus saw the crowds and was moved with pity, for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them.
In the Prayer After Communion, we pray, “Lead those you have imbued with heavenly mysteries to pass from former ways to newness of life.”
In our newness of life after Baptism, we have received and continue to receive the gifts enabling us to be servant leaders. Let us pray that we use these gifts, no matter our positions, in our daily interactions with all God’s people.
Sister Beryl Herdt, O.P.