Many people think the world is divided into two kinds of people – leaders and subjects Leaders govern their subjects while subjects obey their leaders. In the church, many Catholics have similar belief. Bishops, priests and the lay leaders, all fall within the first category while the ordinary lay person falls into the second category. The leaders administer the Church while the followers just follow.
But the truth is there is only one category of people in the Church – we are all disciples of Christ. We all have one common identity – we are the people of God and fellow sinners. Of course, we all have different functions in the Body of Christ, the Church – as apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and the teachers, etc. to serve our brothers and sisters in different ways.
Today’s readings tell us how we should carry out our responsibility as a leader and as a disciple. We are all disciples of Christ and are called to serve as he did.
The first condition is we must listen to God as the prophet Malachi said in the first reading. Listening to God means we are only concerned with doing God’s will and not ours. When we fail, we will abuse our power, and we will asset our will over others, we will attempt to glorify our own name instead of God.
The second condition is that our service must be pastoral. In other words, we must be loving and forgiving to the community whom we serve.
The third condition is that our ministry must always be one of service rather than power and personal glory. Jesus condemned the Pharisees and Scribes in today’s gospel for abusing their authority by seeking to control the people and by trying to profit from their position as leaders and teachers. Jesus reminds us that all authority comes from God, and as his disciples, we are called to be servants, to humble ourselves, to serve the needs of our brothers and sisters.
Let the greatest among you be the servant of all. (Mt 23:11)
Deacon Thomas Kung