Acts 2:14,36-41; 1Pt 2:20-25; John 10:1-10
All of us have the opportunity to become leaders because we have people to care, to tend and to lead. For example, our pope, he is the leader of the universal church. The bishop is the leader of the local church called diocese. The parish priest is the leader of the parish. Lay leaders are also leaders of their respective GKKs and other religious organizations. Government officials, managers, parents and others are also leaders in their own field of activities.
Every Fourth Sunday of Easter is called the Good Shepherd Sunday. It is because the readings used talk about the Good Shepherd who is Jesus Christ, ready to lay down His life for us, ready to defend life, ready to spread life, ready to give His whole life for His sheep everyday. A true leader models his/her leadership on the Good Shepherd.
That is why in our gospel today Jesus gives us the criteria of a true and genuine leadership.
First is dedication. A true leader is ready to give his life for all no matter what. Unlike our modern leaders, for example, politicians, whose tongues are so sweet (more sweet that sugar), labor leaders, government officials, employers and even priests, who take advantage and enflesh themselves instead of tending and looking after people’s welfare.
A dedicated leader must possess the so-called 4 Cs. 1. Competent. Being competent is not only referred to as competent in leading the people but he/she must be competent with God. That he/she has knowledge of God and for God. 2. Commitment. Being committed is generous, that is, donating oneself for the sake of others. He/she is willing to share his/her 3 Ts – Time, Talent and Treasure. 3. Consecration, which means that as leaders, they are set apart for the service of God. His/her main purpose why he/she serves the people because this is the best way on how to serve God. 4. Conversion. Being converted is ready to forgive whatever wrongdoings others have done against you.
Second criterion is knowledge. The true leader knows his/her people (John 10:3). “Knowing” in biblical term is more than intellectual knowledge. It also includes knowing them by their names, works, ambitions, plans, feelings, sharing their life’s conditions, backgrounds and identifying oneself in their struggle. A priest like me is the spiritual leader of a parish and must know the people. For example, I’m now the parish priest in this parish for more that ten months now. What percentage of the total population of this parish whom I know even just by their names? Maybe only 1 percent or less. I’m familiar with your faces, I know your faces, but not only this, and I must know you totally.
This parish, according to a survey has a total population of 28,108. 60 percent of the total population are Catholics. Roughly estimated as 16,000 more are Catholics. How many Catholics go to Mass on Sunday? May be 25 to 30% of the total Catholic population or roughly estimated as 4,500 to 5,000 Catholics go to Mass on Sunday. Where are the others? This leaves to 70% of the total Catholic population are un-churched or nominal Catholics. They go to the Church only when they are hatched (or during their Baptism), matched (or during their wedding) and dispatched (during the funeral Mass of their burial). Or local parlance they are the KBL. They go to church during their K-asal (Wedding), B-unyag (or the Baptism of the children) and L-ubong (burial). Where are they now? I don’t know. May be you know where are they now. If you happen to see them please tell them that God is looking for them especially in the Church. Since I told that each of us has the opportunity to become a leader and a shepherd, so be a shepherd to them and look for them.
Lastly is a leader must an Exemplar. A leader must be an example in his/her community by words and deeds. Like us priests, you address us as “Father” because we have a big role to play as shepherds. FATHERS are:
Not only me, not only you, but all of us must follow this criteria of leadership: dedication, knowledge and exemplar.
Have we cared enough the flock God has entrusted to us?
See Today’s Readings: Cycle A