THE SERVANT GENERAL
OUR THEME FOR 2014
A HUMBLE WITNESS
Today’s gospel: Luke 9:46-50
Christ’s disciples are called to witness to Jesus and
are accordingly empowered, since they engage in divine work
and they assault a powerful enemy, and can only do so if they
are empowered from on high. But here is embedded a threat
to their witness: they can become proud, and in their pride
can become engaged in rivalry and exclusivity and intolerance
apostles were sent out and they healed the sick and drove
out demons. Now they were already arguing among themselves
about who of them was the greatest (Lk 9:46). Now they considered
themselves so privileged (they were after all chosen by Jesus
himself and given personal training), walking and working
with Jesus himself, that no one else outside their company
could be worthy of doing what they were doing (Lk 9:49).
happens to servant leaders and ecclesial communities in various
Being recognized by the Vatican and plastering that on their
letterhead for everyone to know.
pride in having the greater harvest from evangelization
work (and perhaps even looking down on others who don’t
do as well).
against other groups with parish priests and bishops in
order to prevent them from serving in areas where one’s
group already is present.
of one’s numerical membership (even inflating it)
and always being concerned about adding members rather than
just saving souls.
among leaders over resources, assignments, jurisdiction,
Such pride is of course the prelude to being opposed by God
and being brought down by Him.
What is the proper posture? It is being like a little child.
Why? Because the child has no pretensions to power and glory,
is totally dependent upon older people and cannot accomplish
great things just by himself, just follows directions, and,
in the early times of Jesus, had no stature in society.
a disciple that is “the one who is least among all of
you is the one who is the greatest.” (Lk 9:48b). The
one who is not proud, who in fact is humbled by the great
privilege of being called to be a servant leader, who recognizes
his nothingness apart from Christ, is the one who will be
empowered to witness. He is a witness because he is like Jesus,
who humbled himself and did not cling to power and stature.
He will be empowered because he has become a fitting instrument
in and through whom Jesus can really act. Of him Jesus can
truly say, “Whoever receives this child in my name receives
me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”
(Lk 9:48a). And see what a blessing it is to the one we witness
to? Whoever receives us receives Jesus, and thus receives
the Father in heaven.
It actually is comic sometimes when we consider ourselves
so great, and what we do so much, when, in the overall scheme
of things, we actually do so little. We pride ourselves in
how many we have evangelized, when we barely even scratch
the surface of the work of evangelizing the whole world. In
blessing our work, we think we are the anointed ones (and
yes we are), but miss out on the reality that God anoints
many others as well, because the work is so huge.
servant leaders speak against other servant leaders. Some
try to prevent them (the latter) from doing what they (the
former) are already doing because they do not want “their”
territory encroached upon. Some even try to malign and bring
down the good work of others just because it is not their
own work. “Master, we saw someone casting out demons
in your name and we tried to prevent him because he does not
follow in our company.” (Lk 9:49). The man was casting
our demons in the name of Jesus! That was doing the very work
of God. But the apostles objected, simply because the man
was not one of them.
Jesus said, “Do not prevent him, for whoever is not
against you is for you.” (Lk 9:50). There are many persons,
groups, movements, ministries and programs that God will call,
put together and empower, in order to do the massive work
of evangelization that He wants done. It is not only you!
If you prevent others, can you do such massive work on your
own? They are for Jesus (acting in his name), against Satan
(casting out demons), and therefore are not against you but
are for you. That is, if you in fact are for Jesus
and against Satan. If you have sinful pride, then you are
not following in the footsteps of Jesus but are actually following
in the footsteps of Lucifer, who became Satan. In which case,
you are the one to be excluded.
Let there be no argument about who is the greatest. Let there
in fact be a rush to take the lowest place.