September 22, 2023
by Jay Carney
Creighton University's Theology Departnent
click here for photo and information about the writer

Friday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 447

1 Timothy 6:2c-12
Psalm 49:6-7, 8-10, 17-18, 19-20
Luke 8:1-3

Praying Ordinary Time

Today’s readings offer a primer in Christian leadership, whether in the first or twenty-first century. To start off, 1 Timothy reminds us that Christian leaders do not stand alone; we hand down a tradition. We are held accountable to the words and witness of Jesus Christ himself, and we will be judged harshly if we insist on going our own way.

Second, by their fruits you will know them! One can have a lofty title yet not reflect the spirit of the gospel. We are all aware of pastors, priests, and secular leaders who would rather win an argument than listen in dialogue, rather raise money than serve the people. Pope Francis did not make up his oft-repeated line that “the love of money is the root of all evils,” as St. Paul reminds us today. Thankfully, our faith journeys are also shaped by the leaders who exemplify the Pauline virtues of the “man of God”—righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness. Such Christians truly exemplify the “noble confession” to which each of us is called in baptism.

Third, leaders can emerge from unexpected places. In first-century Palestine, it would have been unusual and even scandalous for women to participate in a Jewish rabbi’s public ministry. And yet here is Susanna, stepping forward as a patroness to provide for Jesus and the Twelve out of her own means. Herod was a capricious and licentious king, and yet here is Joanna, the wealthy wife of his chief steward, walking with the Twelve as Jesus inaugurates the Kingdom of God. When her life was racked by possession and pain, Mary of Magdala was far from the leading candidate to become the “Apostle to the Apostles.” And yet it was Magdalene who stayed with Jesus at the Cross, only to be surprised by joy in the garden of resurrection.

As our gospel antiphon tells us, to be a Christian leader is to be a “little one” — open, curious, humble, and teachable. May we seek to be poor in spirit this day.

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