1 Timothy 3:1-13
There are countless institutions throughout the world that provide training in leadership and governance that examine the strategies, processes and skills needed for such positions. Our first reading today gives us a glimpse into some of the learnings of the first generations of Christians about the qualities they required for leadership within Christian communities. One of the things we know is that they had not yet developed seminaries or training colleges – that would come centuries later.
As the number of communities grew, apostles like Paul had to select members as presiding elders and deacons. While we are not sure exactly how they exercised their ministry, we can see the qualities they had determined were essential – a person had to have demonstrated that they were trustworthy, respectful, and able to successfully care for their own families and affairs.
It’s interesting to see how these leaders emerged from among the members of the local community, that they were married, and that leadership was an additional overlay on their existing familial and work commitments. Given all the attention paid to Synodality and the call for an increased role to be played by lay leaders in the life of the Church, today’s text from 1 Timothy is a timely reminder of what the Church can be.
We can often forget that Jesus was a layperson in his own time and religious context. He was not a synagogue ruler, Levite, or officially considered a Rabbi or leader, and yet he changed the world by reaching out with compassion as he does in today’s Gospel. In these readings, there is plenty of food for thought to exercise the mind and heart.
Fr. Chris Monaghan CP, lectures in the New Testament and is President of Yarra Theological Union. He is a member of the Passionist community of Holy Cross in Templestowe.