Tuesday – Seventh week – OT1

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Tuesday – Seventh week – OT1

 

Readings: Sir 2:1-11; Mk 9:30-37.

1/ Reading I: RSV Sirach 2:1 My son, if you come forward to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for temptation. 2 Set your heart right and be steadfast, and do not be hasty in time of calamity. 3 Cleave to him and do not depart, that you may be honored at the end of your life. 4 Accept whatever is brought upon you, and in changes that humble you be patient. 5 For gold is tested in the fire, and acceptable men in the furnace of humiliation. 6 Trust in him, and he will help you; make your ways straight, and hope in him. 7 You who fear the Lord, wait for his mercy; and turn not aside, lest you fall. 8 You who fear the Lord, trust in him, and your reward will not fail; 9 you who fear the Lord, hope for good things, for everlasting joy and mercy. 10 Consider the ancient generations and see: who ever trusted in the Lord and was put to shame? Or whoever persevered in the fear of the Lord and was forsaken? Or who ever called upon him and was overlooked? 11 For the Lord is compassionate and merciful; he forgives sins and saves in time of affliction.

2/ Gospel: RSV Mark 9:30 They went on from there and passed through Galilee. And he would not have any one know it; 31 for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of man will be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him; and when he is killed, after three days he will rise.” 32 But they did not understand the saying, and they were afraid to ask him. 33 And they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” 34 But they were silent; for on the way they had discussed with one another who was the greatest. 35 And he sat down and called the twelve; and he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” 36 And he took a child, and put him in the midst of them; and taking him in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.”



I. THEME: The virtues which all spiritual leaders need to have.

            Many people want to be leaders to command, to be famous and served by others. These can be happened for the political, the military, or the economical leaders; but can’t be happened for the spiritual leaders. Jesus himself taught his disciples: “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you; rather let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves” (Lk 22:25-26).

            Today readings listed out the necessary virtues for a spiritual leader. In the first reading, the author listed out the important virtues, such as: to welcome all challenges, to persevere in suffering, to be patient in waiting for results, and especially, to absolutely believe in God. In the Gospel, Jesus taught his disciples, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” Jesus not only taught, he also set examples by washing his disciples’ feet and by accepting suffering of the cross to bring many people to God.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: A spiritual leader needs to have these virtues.

            (1) Magnanimity: The ideal goal of a spiritual leader is to lead people to God. This ideal goal must be the lamp that enlightens all of his works. The author of Sirach advises his son, “Set your heart right.”

            Not like worldly readers whose rewards for their leadership are measured by success, fame and material gains; a spiritual leader hopes to receive the future reward from God and his joy in this world when he saw people to believe in Him. St. Paul compared these two rewards as followed: “Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable” (1 Cor 9:25).

            (2) Patience: Spiritual leadership demands one to guide people who have different temperaments and preferences; therefore, a spiritual leader must face many challenges. He must be patient to present the truth and to convince them to follow his ideal goal. The author of Sirach advises his son: “My son, if you come forward to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for temptation.”

            Moreover, temptation is also used to train for other virtues, as St. Paul said: “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope” (Rom 5:3-4).

            (3) Perseverance: To be successful, a spiritual leader must also be persevered in sufferings for God’s glory and people’s good. The author of Sirach advises his son: “Be steadfast, and do not be hasty in time of calamity… Accept whatever is brought upon you, and in changes that humble you be patient. For gold is tested in the fire, and acceptable men in the furnace of humiliation.”

            (4) Faith and hope in God: Since faith in God and hope in what He promises are two foundations of spiritual leaders, they should never lose their faith and fall in despair. The author of Sirach advises: “Trust in him, and he will help you; make your ways straight, and hope in him. You who fear the Lord, wait for his mercy; and turn not aside, lest you fall. You who fear the Lord, trust in him, and your reward will not fail; you who fear the Lord, hope for good things, for everlasting joy and mercy.”

            God is faithful in all what He promises. To illustrate this point, the author invites his son to look back at the history: “Consider the ancient generations and see: who ever trusted in the Lord and was put to shame? Or whoever persevered in the fear of the Lord and was forsaken? Or who ever called upon him and was overlooked? For the Lord is compassionate and merciful; he forgives sins and saves in time of affliction.”

2/ Gospel: “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”

2.1/ Leadership by sacrifice one’s life for others.

            (1) Jesus taught his disciple one way: Jesus revealed to them in advance of his Passion: “The Son of man will be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him; and when he is killed, after three days he will rise.” This is “the Messiah’s secret” according to Mark. In opposition, the Jewish Tradition believes a powerful Messiah: He will perform great signs; use power to destroy all foreign powers; and reign over all nations of the world. Jesus revealed to his disciples the Messiah’s plan of salvation: He shall accept the way of sufferings to liberate people, not from the slavery of foreign power but from the slavery of sins and death.

            (2) They understood it other way: Mark reported the disciples’ reaction: “But they did not understand the saying, and they were afraid to ask him.” They didn’t understand it because they were so familiarized with the image of the Messiah according to the tradition. They were afraid to ask Jesus because they didn’t want to face the truth: Jesus will be seized and put to death.

            This became clearer through their discussion along the way. When Jesus was in the house he asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” They were silent; for on the way they had discussed with one another who was the greatest. They still hoped in a powerful Messiah, so they argued to find out who is the greatest among themselves, the second important person after Jesus when he shall become a king.

 

2.2/ Leadership by serving: Jesus sat down and called the twelve; and he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” A spiritual leader must be different with a political leader, and the standard to become the greatest person in God’s kingdom is also different with the worldly standard: He must be the last of all and servant of all. To illustrate, Jesus “took a child, and put him in the midst of them; and taking him in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.” Children have nothing to pay back; it is exactly because of their inability, God will compensate those who help them.

           

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                     

            – Not everyone can lead. A leader must be trained to have all necessary virtues before he can actually lead people.

            – Priests are not only spiritual leaders, but parents are also spiritual leaders in their family. Imitating Jesus, parents must also lead by their sacrifice and sufferings to serve their children.

            – The reward of a spiritual leader isn’t about material gains; but it is God Himself and the joy to see people to believe in Him.

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