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Tuesday – Seventh Week – OT2
Readings: Jam 4:1-10; Mk 9:30-37.
1/ First Reading: RSV James 4:1 What causes wars, and what causes fightings among you? Is it not your passions that are at war in your members? 2 You desire and do not have; so you kill. And you covet and cannot obtain; so you fight and wage war. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. 4 Unfaithful creatures! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you suppose it is in vain that the scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit which he has made to dwell in us”? 6 But he gives more grace; therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you men of double mind. 9 Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to dejection. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you.
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 any one 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: Virtues of a spiritual leader
Many people want to have power so they can give orders, become famous, or being served by others. These can happen to political, military or economical leaders; but can’t be happened to spiritual leaders. Jesus taught his disciples how to become a spiritual leader: “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 virtues which a spiritual leader needs to have according to the Christian way. In the first reading, the author of James gave a list of virtues and a list of sins of a spiritual leader. In the Gospel, Jesus declared to his disciples that “If any one would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” Jesus gave them an example by he himself washed their feet and accepted the way of the cross to redeem people.
1/ Reading I: “Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you.”
1.1/ Leadership isn’t about to have profits or pleasures. St. James listed out the dangers of the leadership according to worldly standard.
(1) Leadership for benefits will only lead to war: This is not a surprise, since everyone has a tendency to work for a profit. People fight to get their benefits. If they can’t get them by words, they will resolve by forces. A spiritual leader aims at spiritual benefits.
(2) God won’t give grace for leaders who aim at material profits: Everything in the world belong to God and He let everyone use them. He won’t accept those who use power to hoard things for themselves. When God decides to take them out, no one can’t resist Him.
(3) Friendship with the world is enmity with God: The world is understood not only people who don’t accept divine standards but also people who oppose those who live according to that standards. Verse 5 of James’ passage had a basis on Genesis 6:5-6, which stated: “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.” The author of James probably thought that God bestows His Spirit on people to control and to temperate bad desires in them.
Individual or social collapse happen are due to jealousy. The spirit, which naturally dwells in man, continually produces from one bad thought to another; it always instigates people to look for the things needed to possess for their enjoyment. This worldly way, affected by luxurious life and passions, leads people to jealousy and fighting to achieve them, is the sure consequence of the friendship with the world, because there is no true friendship without unity in the spirit.
To avoid covetousness, therefore, the faithful must avoid to make friend with the world, and demonstrate that they are led by higher principles and a better spirit who is dwelling in them. If we belong to God, He shall give us more grace to live and to act than worldly people. The worldly spirit teaches people to be selfish while God teaches people to be generous. The worldly spirit teaches people to hoard up material things for themselves while God teaches people to contribute to necessary needs and to console others.
1.2/ Leadership with humility and serve: Those who are humble to lead others according to God’s standard, He will bestow grace on them so that they can benefit others. The author listed two important virtues which a leader must have:
(1) Living closed to God and far away from the devil: A Christian leader must obey God and expel all sins. When a person draws near to God, the devil won’t be near to him because the Most Holy One and the devil can’t stand each other.
(2) Suffering has a more meaningful value than worldly pleasure: A Christian leader must sacrifice for others and endure sufferings. Sufferings help him to recognize the true value of life. According to the first beatitude, “Blessed are those who mourn, because they shall be consoled by God.” Worldly pleasure only makes people to separate themselves from God because they think they already have everything and no need of God.
2/ Gospel: “If any one 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 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. 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. In opposition, 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 any one 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.