In today's Gospel, Jesus speaks directly to the crowds and to his disciples about the leaders of the synagogue. He says specifically to His disciples not to follow their example, because they preach, but they do not practice.
Jesus sets out for them a new kind of leadership. Jesus is talking about leading by example, by being the servant of all- not one who exercises overbearing authority, but of service not only to the church in general, but to each individual person. This new leadership is one of personal caring and mercy. St. Paul says in his letter, “we were gentle among you, as a nursing mother cares for her children.” St. Paul describes that he had “affection” for the followers of Christ, and that they were “dearly beloved.” This is a type of leadership to which the Romans were not accustomed. Before Christ, the leader was the one who barked commands, and gave orders to the people.
Jesus first talks about the leaders in the Church- they have a special responsibility. The church must always be in a position to welcome all people- to let the Church be a place where people know they are loved and protected. If people are to join the church and remain active within it, they must know that they are respected, and loved, and their relationship with God will grow and increase. It is most important that children receive the greatest respect. This is true for everyone who comes to Our Lady of Hope or St. Luke, or any other Catholic church for the first time. They should know that they are welcomed, and that this is the place to help them grow closer to the Lord. Priests and those in authority have a special responsibility for maintaining respect for all, especially children.
Over the years many people have had one reason or another for leaving the church. It is heartbreaking for a priest, a religious, or anyone who loves the Church to hear about people who have left the Eucharist, the Mass, the sacraments, and the great histories and traditions of the church, because of what a priest or someone in the church said or did. Imagine that generations of families may leave the Church because of a word or comment or some miscommunication.
In March 2000 St. John Paul II, said that we “humbly ask forgiveness for the sins of the church for the past 2000 years.” For a New Evangelization, there must be a Church-wide purification of memories, a mutual forgiveness. There still are offenses against the Church, against Catholics. Last week I had mentioned about the time that I heard a talk by the Archbishop of Mosul, and that Isis had try to destroy Catholic churches in Mosul. Just as Saint John Paul II asked for forgiveness, he also said that we must forgive the sins against the Catholic Church.
Pope Saint John Paul II had hoped to bring all churches together since there are still divisions among the churches throughout the world.
We are still praying that the leaders of all Christian churches may come together, more recently the Catholic Church and the Methodist Church. We have been in discussions of unity the 500th anniversary of the Reformation was occurring we were reminded of continuous dialogue between the Lutheran Church and the Catholic Church.
Jesus also gives us a new style of leadership for any time that authority is exercised. This includes teachers, parents, grandparents, employers, aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters, and all those in the workplace and in schools.
We pray each week for unity throughout the world so that there may be peace. We also pray that each of us will treat others with respect, and we receive the respect we deserve as sons and daughters of God, Our Father.