May 17, 2020 - Pastor Message05/28/2020
THE YEAR OF DISCIPLESHIP CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP (CONT.)
“Then Jesus’ mother and brothers came to him but were unable to join him because of the crowd. He was told, ‘Your mother and your brothers are standing outside and wish to see you.’ He said to them in reply, ‘My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it’” (Luke 8:1921).
The characteristics of all Christian leaders are a commitment to doing the will of God, an attitude of service, a bond with the people we lead, the courage to lead in the face of obstacles, and regular selfcare. These characteristics are present in different leaders in different ways. For the remainder of the Easter season, I’d like to offer some suggestions as to what that might look like for leaders of three important groups: families, parishes, and civic communities. Let’s start with families.
Christian leadership begins with the family because it is in our families that we first encounter Christ. While the composition of families has changed over the years, especially recently, and many nontraditional families do exemplary work loving one another and practicing the faith, the basic, God-given model of a married man and woman raising their children together still remains the ideal. Within that model, the spouses serve as Christian leaders for one another and together as Christian leaders for their children.
The ultimate goal of Christian spouses is to lead one another and their children to the kingdom of God. This means first and foremost discerning and acting on God’s will for themselves and their family. This requires a serious commitment to prayer, individually and, just as importantly, together, spouses praying with each other and parents praying with their children. The beating heart of the family’s prayer life is of course active participation in Sunday Mass, our weekly meal with our larger family of faith, where we are taught and nourished by the leader of every Christian family, Christ. But our family’s shared prayer life doesn’t end with Sunday Mass, or at least it shouldn’t. Christian leaders make prayer a key part of their family’s daily life, spouses opening their hearts to God with one another and parents doing so with their children, teaching them to do the same.
Praying together also contributes to the bonding that is essential for Christian leaders. If we’re going to lead our families, we need to know them, and they us. Bonding requires spending time together, making family time a priority. Rather than seeing family time as competing with other activities in our busy lives, Christian leaders serve God and their families by putting them first, building their days and weeks around the family and the path God lays out for them that they discern in prayer together.
Bonding can also take place through service and self-care. Christian leaders serve their families by putting them and their needs first, but they also lead their families in serving others, whether by bringing their family to participate in parish and community service activities and programs, or simply by identifying a need their family can help meet, such as visiting an elderly neighbor, and leading them to do so. Finally, selfcare also offers opportunities for family bonding by doing such things as sharing healthy, sit-down meals together and exercising and recreating together. In all these ways and more, Christian leaders lead their families closer to God’s kingdom. We thank God for the many faithful, Christian families in our parish, and ask his continued blessings on the men and women, disciples all, who lead them.
Fr. Marc Stockton