Fr Noel's Homilies

Buzzword - Leadership
In one way or another the majority of people are cast in the role of being leaders. Leadership is very definitely integral to a Christian response to life's situations. Today's liturgy focuses our thoughts on Christ as Leader and Exemplar as a pattern for our attempts to be leaders.

2 Sam 5:1-3 - In this passage we are told of the nomination and election of David as King of all the tribes of Israel. Under his leadership, they flourished and grew into a great civilisation.

Colossians 1:12-20 - Here St. Paul lists the reasons why the leadership of Christ should be acknowledged - he collaborated with the Father in the work of creation; in him all perfection is to be found and he has redeemed the human race from the slavery of sin.

Luke 23:35-43 - To all intents and purposes, Christ, on the cross, was the perfect picture of defeat. His enemies derided and mocked Him; his companions, with the exception of John and a few woman, had abandoned Him. It remained for one of the thieves crucified with Him to recognise Christ for what He was - a King- "Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom".

Point 1: - The title "King" does not register too well with today's democratic, republican mindset; for that reason I think a better image of today's Feast is achieved by presenting it as the Feast of Christ the Leader. Leadership is the theme of today's Mass, as we have seen in the different readings. And it is an important theme for us, as Christians, to consider. All of us, in one or another, like to think of ourselves as leaders. Listen to the average conversation and we find that there is little done by others that we could not have done better! - our national leaders are fools, or worse; our sporting heroes make shocking errors of judgement; our civic fathers would be dangerous if they were endowed with brains; and if only our Bishops knew half as much as the average assistant priest, the Church could be so much better!

Point 2: Seriously! What is it that makes a good leader? The first quality of leadership is not asking people to do what one is not prepared to do oneself. In other words, leadership equates with being an Exemplar, one showing the way by example; or, to use a much used phrase - to practise what one preaches! In other words, leadership must reflect conviction. The autocrat, shouting instructions and threats is not necessarily exercising leadership; just as a parent who is constantly shouting and threatening to bring into line an unwilling family is not showing good leadership. For our purposes, probably, it is within the family that this role of leadership needs to be reviewed regularly. Responsible parenthood demands qualities of leadership over and beyond the ordinary. It is strange that we receive training, or are prepared in other ways, for almost anything else, but not for parenthood. Giving life to a child and being responsible for shaping its life is one of the more important roles an adult can have. A baby, when born, is a cute bundle of unknown, untapped potential. What it develops into, for the most part, is the responsibility of its parents and other adult role models. From the moment its eyes are able to take things in, they continually feed information into the child's brain. The values and standards that the child observes and the experiences it has in early life will largely determine the type of adult it will grow into.

Conclusion: Of course, there is no guarantee that good example will always produce a desired result; but it can be safely argued that, with good example, there is more chance of a good result being achieved than there is without such example. No wonder, the Christian ethic lays such importance on this role of leadership for its followers, and asks that our approach to leadership be based on conviction. Our liturgy today focuses on the leadership of Christ and how it was based on conviction. Let our prayer be that our own sense of leadership should be inspired by similar conviction.

Scriptural reference: "Behold, I made him a witness to the people, a leader and commander of the peoples" (Isaiah 55:4)