Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles
Acts 12: 1-11,
2 Timothy 4: 6-8, 17-18
Matthew 16: 13-19
Today we celebrate the Solemnity of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Apostles. Peter and Paul truly are two of the great leaders in the history of our faith community. Peter and Paul obviously were gifted by God and then were called to share their gifts through their healing and preaching. Yet even though they were leaders, they were humble and kept their focus on Jesus, not on themselves. Today is an appropriate day to reflect on Christian leadership.
However my initial reflections are troubling. Leadership in our faith community now seems to me to be too often focused on investigations, power brokering, needless attacks, politics and litmus tests for orthodoxy. I find myself questioning the wisdom of those in leadership positions. Yet at the same time I recognize how difficult and challenging leadership in our age can be and how different our times are from the times of Peter and Paul. At the end of the day I find myself wondering what type of leadership I am looking for from those who are in authority.
Perhaps the words of Joan Chittister from her book "The Monastery of the Heart" can assist me in my search.
"The leader must maintain the integrity of the community and encourage it to be what it is meant to be: a sign of the world to come, a bringer of peace, a haven for the homeless, the heart of the temple on the streets of the city, a light in the dark to those who seek peace and justice and human community…Identifying and choosing good leaders is of the essence of community building. We will become what we choose."
I can’t always choose my leaders. I can choose which leaders to follow. I also can pray for and encourage the leaders I am given to keep their focus on Jesus and the poor, oppressed and powerless of this world. As a Passionist I want to stand at the foot of the Cross with those who suffer and also ask those in leadership within the Church to stand with us there, focused on God’s message of love in Christ Crucified.
Terry McDevitt, Ph.D. is a member of our Passionist Family who volunteers at the Passionist Assisted Living Community in Louisville, Kentucky.