31st Sunday in Ordinary time
Malachi 1:14 – 2:2, 8-10
1 Thessalonians 2:7-9, 13
Today’s Gospel can best be summed up by the maxim that goes, “Jesus came to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.” In it he teaches his disciples that Christian leadership can never be about power – it must always be about service. Yet, while Jesus’ teaching is clear, in our history as a Church, we have more surely followed the path of power and authority and hierarchy. Why do we do this? It is too simple to say that people who enter positions of authority in our Church are motivated by the wrong reasons and are all ambitious to have power and prestige. No doubt some do, but I think most start with the best intentions.
You see if we want to be servants, we must leave others free to make their own religious decisions. We do not, however, trust others with their freedom. We are afraid that if they are free, they would make the wrong decisions. So we decide to reject the role of servant to assume the role of lord and ruler – not from ambition but from the desire that men and women be virtuous. We force them to do right for their own good!
How much tyranny and oppression, how much lack of respect for the dignity and integrity of the individual person has masqueraded under these motivations? Using fear and guilt tactics to dominate others in the name of saving them is a sure sign of self-doubt in the area of faith. And when people no longer trust themselves, they begin to depend upon authority.
Fr. Ray Sanchez CP is the leader of the Oxley community and is responsible for Parish Missions and Retreats throughout Australia and NZ.