Leadership at the Service of Communion
Day 7 – Christmas Novena
Today, on the 7th day of the Novena, we reflect on and pray with the theme: Leadership at the service of Communion.
Congregational structures and leadership styles have to facilitate participation and communion. We experience the value of communal discernment and participative leadership.” (GC 14)
The word “authority’ (augere: Latin) means to give increase, to empower, to build up, to edify. As such, authentic authority leads us to the threshold of our own vision and there empowers us. This is what we must seek in our discernment processes. The task of authentic authority is primarily to listen to the depth pulsations of the community of which it is a part and respond to it adequately.
Jesus came into a world/ society where power was misused often for self-glory/self-promotion and naturally it had its detrimental effect on others. He came to empower people, to show how God’s power works and what it does to human beings and creation. His goal was to build up…to nurture; to enhance rather than to dominate.
All of us, irrespective of the different roles we occupy at different times in our life, hold immense power within us. We pray that all of us who are gifted with power, authority and energy may harness them for promoting life and bringing about communion.
Scripture Reading: Jn. 10:10 – I came that you may have life and have it to the full. or Phil. 2: 1-11
The Messiah is Among You
There was once an old stone monastery tucked away in the middle of a picturesque forest. For many years people would make the significant detour required to seek out this monastery. The peaceful spirit of the place was healing for the soul.
In recent years however fewer and fewer people were making their way to the monastery. The monks had grown jealous and petty in their relationships with one another, and the animosity was felt by those who visited.
The Abbot of the monastery was distressed by what was happening, and poured out his heart to his good friend Jeremiah. Jeremiah was a wise old Jewish rabbi. Having heard the Abbot’s tale of woe he asked if he could offer a suggestion. “Please do” responded the Abbot. “Anything you can offer.”
Jeremiah said that he had received a vision, an important vision, and the vision was this: the messiah was among the ranks of the monks. The Abbot was flabbergasted. One among his own was the Messiah! Who could it be? He knew it wasn’t himself, but who? He raced back to the monastery and shared his exciting news with his fellow monks.
The monks grew silent as they looked into each other’s faces. Was this one the Messiah?
From that day on the mood in the monastery changed. Joseph and Ivan started talking again, neither wanting to be guilty of slighting the Messiah. Pierre and Naibu left behind their frosty anger and sought out each other’s forgiveness. The monks began serving each other, looking out for opportunities to assist, seeking healing and forgiveness where offence had been given.
As one traveler, then another, found their way to the monastery, word soon spread about the remarkable spirit of the place. People once again took the journey to the monastery and found themselves renewed and transformed. All because those monks knew the Messiah was among them.
What learnings do I receive from the story? How could we learn to connect to the power within each of us and draw out the best in each other? In what way do our encounters relate to the deepest desires and highest aspirations of our members? How is God calling me to leadership in peace-making and reconciliation? How can my woundedness and vulnerability contribute to healing and renewal?
At Christmas we gaze at the power of God hidden in the tenderness, helplessness and vulnerability of the little babe in the manger- the power that manifested itself in his adult years in the way he taught, related and acted.
As we pray the following prayer, we allow our attitudes to be shaped by his style of leadership especially in his relationships.
Jesus’ leadership (adapted from Jesus CEO, Laurie Beth Jones)
Jesus beheld the people – To behold someone means to be fully centered and to hold, or embrace, a person in that moment. People respond to how we behold them in our consciousness. We don’t have to say anything; they can sense how we perceive them.
People flocked to Jesus because he did not see them as black or white, rich or poor, male or female. He saw them as brothers and sisters – family related by blood, equals with equal rights and responsibilities. He beheld them
Resp.: Jesus, help us to behold each other in our essence.
Jesus treated all as equals: Jesus, representing God, treated everyone as his equal. He could move mountains, raise the dead, heal the sick, and make the lame walk and the blind see. Yet, he called fishermen and prostitutes his brothers and sisters. He not only accepted these “less-than-pure” individuals, he radiated so much love for them that people swarmed to him. People felt good about themselves in his presence. His approach empowered them.
Resp.: Jesus, may we learn to behold everyone as a brother or a sister.
Jesus had compassion for the crowds: Jesus desperately wanted to show people how loved they were. He personally felt another people’s pain. Once we lose compassion, we lose our souls. ‘We are most like God when we have compassion’. All that matters is to be kind to one another.
Resp.: Jesus, may we respond to each other with all the goodness within us.
Jesus served them: Jesus, the leader, served his people. He asked people: “What would you like me to do for you?” “How can I help you?” If they wanted to see, he opened their eyes. If they wanted to walk, he let them walk. If they wanted bread, he gave them bread. If they wanted wine, he gave them wine. He did all of these things … because he was coming from one power: love.
Resp.: Jesus, may we learn to act from the source within us, namely LOVE.
Jesus, celebration of your birth reminds us of the purpose of your coming to this world – to give us life, life in abundance. Your incarnation tells us, we humans are valuable and precious. May we, your disciples realize that each of us is born an original and so to make a difference in the world in a unique manner- a difference, by promoting life, life in our communities and among people around us, especially those most deprived of a life of dignity. Let the power of love within us make each step we take a step not of domination but of kindness, a step not of competition but of compassion, a step of justice for the powerless, a step of hope for the despairing. May our SSpS family be a ‘home where the great are small and the small are great’. Amen.