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(Part 104)


March 3, 2016

Today’s readings:
Jeremiah 7:23-28
Psalm 95:1-9
Luke 11:14-23

The unfortunate reality in Christian communities is that there will always be those brethren, including leaders, who will oppose those in leadership over them. At times such opposition will be severe. At times it will be in the face of the good that a leader actually does. Jesus was not exempt from this. Some criticized his driving out a demon. “By the power of Beelzebul, the prince of demons, he drives out demons.” (Lk 11:15).

Why do people do that to their leaders? It can be a variety of reasons--envy, ambition, blindness, having been hurt by that leader, feeling unappreciated, insisting on a contrary vision. Now when that leader is doing well, the frustration of those who oppose him grows. Thus, even as he does good, they find something to criticize in the good he does. They may become more desperate in trying to bring him down.

Consider our own situation. Our mission is threefold: evangelization, family renewal and work with the poor. But our work with the poor then, GK, was pushed to the point of downgrading evangelization and removing Christ from the picture. Because of that, CFC eventually split. Those who push their own agenda are willing to divide and lay waste the community to achieve their ends. Now there are those who insist on family renewal to the point of downgrading evangelization. The irony of both these postures is that evangelization is the very foundation of the other two. Without massive evangelization, both family renewal and work with the poor cannot ultimately work. Those who want to focus on these two to the detriment of evangelization actually weaken the overall work.

The work is weakened, and so is the body. “Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste and house will fall against house.” (Lk 11:17). The persistent assault on the leadership, even as good is accomplished, can cause the body to fall and to fail.

Thus there is a need to support community leadership (that is, if they are not doing bad). As Jesus says, “Whoever is not with me is against me” (Lk 11:23a). The whole body needs to be united in vision and mission. If there are those who are not, and who work to undermine the leadership, then they would be working against the body and ultimately against Christ. Those who dissent need to look to the good that is being done and not lose their focus. They must not be like the Israelites who quarreled with God. “There your ancestors tested me; they tried me though they had seen my works.” (Ps 95:9).

If dissenters persist, then they must take responsibility for the harm that they would cause to the body and its mission. In satisfying their own position, they cause disunity and disturbance. They not only no longer contribute to the mission of the body, but they end up adversely affecting its work. As Jesus says, “whoever does not gather with me scatters.” (Lk 11:23b).

It is important for all to listen to God and to obey. “Listen to my voice; then I will be your God and you shall be my people. Walk exactly in the way I command you, so that you may prosper.” (Jer 7:23). How do we hear God and obey what He says? God speaks through His appointed (and hopefully anointed) leaders. We must not be like the Israelites in their action toward God. “But they did not listen to me, nor did they pay attention. They walked in the stubbornness of their evil hearts and turned their backs, not their faces, to me.” (Jer 7:24). We must listen and never turn off our ears. If we do listen, we must pay attention and seriously consider what is being said. As we understand what is being said, we do not become stubborn and stick to our own desires and ways. And we must never turn our backs on our leaders, no longer intending to listen, obey or follow.

“Oh, that today you would hear his voice: Do not harden your hearts” (Ps 95:7b-8a).

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