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10/21/18 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Deacon Tony

Deacon Tony Conti

Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 146

  • From today’s Gospel - "You know that those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones make their authority over them felt
    But it shall not be so among you.  Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all
    For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many
    ."
  • That passage is intended not only for the disciples but for all practicing Christians… and for that matter… For all human beings
  • Jesus was and still is a Servant Leader… A term that we seldom hear today…
  • Servant leadership puts the needs of those being led, ahead of the leader’s personal agenda
  • Simply put: Servant leadership serves those being led
  • That’s the challenge of all forms of leadership
  • We were created for service… Yet what has the world taught us?
  • We live in a world where the principles of effective leadership have become distorted… 
  • Where the needs of the few often outweigh the needs of the many
  • Where selfishness and self-preservation have replaced selflessness and service… 
  • There’s a deep and abiding wisdom in the servant of leadership exemplified by Jesus’ life of service…
  • A wisdom that the world rejects at its own peril…
  • You might not consider yourself to be a leader… but this would be a mistake…
  • We’re all leaders, whether we acknowledge it or not...
  • There are people who look to each of us every day for guidance and example...
  • It might be our children, or our co-workers, our neighbors, or a stranger...
  • They might ask us for help, or they might just quietly observe our behavior...
  • Leaders come in all shapes and sizes… but regardless of their nature – Jesus is always our example…
  • Jesus’ life was one continuous lesson in the true meaning of leadership… a lesson which society has seldom acknowledged or embraced… Because it goes against everything that we’ve been taught by the world
  • Our business schools seldom teach the principles of servant leadership… Because profit and self-advancement have become the prizes to be won…
  • Servant leaders put themselves in the other’s shoes – They’re compassionate leaders… They care about those they lead
  • Through God’s Grace… They begin to appreciate what a privilege it is to serve God by serving others
  • The essence of servant leadership is exemplified in the Mass of the Lord’s supper on Holy Thursday evening where Jesus washes the feet of His disciples… including Judas
  • Jesus sums up His entire ministry with the following admonition to the disciples, (and to each of us) after washing their feet: “If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet.  I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”
  • So how do we practice servant leadership in our daily lives?
  • It starts by reminding ourselves that leadership brings with it a great responsibility to those we’re called to lead…
  • Servant leadership requires humility… The humility to accept responsibility for those entrusted to our care
  • Humility reminds us that we’re not invincible and that we’re not our own
  • Humility reminds us that we’re far more dependent upon others than we’d ever like to admit…
  • Humility reminds us, that if we’re to become servant leaders, we must also be humble enough to allow Jesus, (through the actions of others), to wash our feet as well
  • Servant leadership also requires the humility to acknowledge the servant leaders in our own lives
    • Do we honestly believe that we got where we are in life on our own…?
    • Without the help and sacrifice of others...? …
    • Without the servant leadership of those who put our needs ahead of their own?
  • Servant Leadership must always be based in humility born of love, with an inner appreciation of the age old truth: “There but for the Grace of God go I…”
  • God never stops working in the world, because God never stops working in each of us
  • We were all put on this earth for a reason… more often for a multitude of reasons - Many of which we’ll never fully appreciate in this life…
  • We’re here to fulfill God’s plans for each of our lives…To be His instruments
  • His Hands, His Feet, and His Voice in the world…
  • Servant leadership is a tool meant to help us fulfill those plans
  • We’re each here to serve those we’re called to lead… To set an example for others through the way we live our lives
  • This is what’s expected of us, and this is how God works with and through us to change the world for the better… one day and one person at a time …
  • I’ll close with a quote from Father Henri Nouwen who wrote: “What makes the temptation of power so seemingly irresistible?  Maybe it is that power offers an easy substitute for the hard task of love.  It seems easier to be God than to love God, easier to control people than to love people, easier to own life than to love life.  Jesus asks, ‘Do you love Me?’ (and) We ask, ‘Can we sit at Your right hand and Your left hand in your Kingdom.  Ever since the snake said, ‘The day you eat of this tree you will be like gods, knowing good from evil,’ we have been tempted to replace love with power.”  (In the Name of Jesus; Pg. 77)

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