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11/5/17 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time - Deacon Tony

Deacon Tony Conti

Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 151

  • From today’s Gospel: “The greatest among you must be your servant
  • Jesus was and still is a Servant Leader… A term that we seldom hear today…
  • Our business schools seldom teach Jesus’ principles of servant leadership… Because profit and self-advancement have become the prizes to be won…
  • Leaders of yesterday as well as today; are usually seen as standing above those they lead… Often standing aloof, as if superior to those being led…
  • And nothing could be further from the truth
  • Until we can begin to appreciate that we all need each other… That we all depend upon each other
  • Until we can begin to appreciate that no one individual is any more important or special than any other
  • Then Jesus’ life of selfless service will remain just a “quaint concept” that doesn’t seem to fit into our modern worldview…
  • Servant leadership puts the needs of those being led, ahead of the leader’s personal agenda
  • Simply put: Servant leadership serves those being led
  • (And) That’s the challenge of all forms of leadership
  • 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
  • We might not consider ourselves to be leaders… but this would be a mistake…
  • We’re all leaders, whether we realize 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 from a distance...
  • Whether we appreciate it or not… The way we live our lives speaks volumes… and impacts those around us… Either positively, or negatively
  • How do we practice servant leadership in our daily lives?
  • It starts by letting go of our egos…
  • It starts by realizing that leadership brings with it a responsibility to those we’re called to lead…
  • It starts with a healthy dose of humility…
  • 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 like to admit…
  • Humility reminds us, that if we’re to become servant leaders, we must be humble enough to allow Jesus, (through the actions of others), to wash our feet as well
  • Accepting help from others is sometimes much harder than giving help…
  • We can often be like Peter in the Gospel John, objecting to Jesus washing his feet - Desperately trying to remain in control
  • This type of behavior not only shuts others out of our life… It also shuts out God - The source of all Grace
  • 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
  • We live in a world where Jesus’ admonition to the scribes and the Pharisees in today’s Gospel is all too real and all too common
  • For they preach but they do not practice.  They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry and lay them on people's shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move themAll their works are performed to be seen.”
  • We live in a world where selfishness and self-preservation have replaced selflessness and service… 
  • There’s a deep and abiding wisdom in the servant leadership priciples exemplified by Jesus’ life of service…
  • Servant leadership is very difficult to practice unless we’re also a disciple
    • Unless we believe in something or Someone bigger than ourselves
    • Unless we hold dear certain inviolable principles and beliefs that over-ride our tendency to think solely of ourselves…
  • Jesus’ life was one continuous lesson in the true meaning of servant leadership and discipleship… a lesson which society has seldom acknowledged or embraced…
  • Because it calls into question everything that we’ve been taught by the world
  • God never stops working in the world, because God never stops working in each of us
  • We’re each called to serve those that God sends into our lives…
  • To set an example of service for others through the way we live our lives…
  • This is what’s expected of us as practicing Christians, 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…
  • US Air Force Capt Scott O’Grady, whose F-16 was shot down over Bosnia in 1995 wrote the following while praying at the Tomb of the unknown soldiers in Washington DC.  His words sum up very well Jesus’ teachings on the meaning of servant leadership: “…the Tomb stood for what lasted.  It wasn’t the reward that mattered or the recognition you might harvest.  It was your depth of commitment, your quality of service, the product of your devotionthese were the things that counted in a life.  When you give purely, I thought, the honor comes in the giving, and that is honor enough.” (Return With Honor, Pg. 206.)

 

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