Monday, Week Twenty-Five
The Responsorial (Psalm 126) declares: “The Lord has done marvels for us” But he uses human beings
as instruments to accomplish his work.
Ezra 1: 1-6 tells how Cyrus, king of Persia from 538 to 529 B.C., let the Jews exiled in Babylon return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple. Isaiah calls Cyrus God’s “anointed,” made victorious because God was using him as an instrument: “He is my shepherd, and he shall carry out all my purpose” (Isaiah 44:28 to 45:1). God wanted to form a Jewish nation. He used Cyrus, a pagan, to bring them home, and a century later he made two Jews, Ezra and Nehemia, the leaders most responsible for the reorganization of Jewish life. The community they established “was the beginning of Judaism. Judaism preserved the literature of Israel and composed its own contributions, and created a religio-political society based on Israelite traditions. It was in this society that the New Testament and Christianity arose” (J. McKenzie,S.J., Dictionary of the Bible, 1965 under “Ezra”).
All of us are called to be leaders. Leadership is not the same as authority. Only a few people are invested with authority. We follow them out of commitment. Leaders are people we follow freely, because we believe they are pointing us in the right direction. And we are all called to be leaders. Anyone who sees what needs to be done is responsible for saying it and trying to lead the way.
We are all responsible for taking initiatives in establishing the reign of God on earth. We were all mandated to do this when at Baptism we were solemnly consecrated stewards of the kingship of Christ. The minister of our Baptism anointed us with chrism on the top of the head, saying, “As Christ was anointed Priest, Prophet and King, so live always as a member of his body.” At Baptism we “became Christ.” We were anointed and empowered by God to continue the work he came to do on earth as Prophet, Priest and King. This makes us Christ’s co-workers. St. Paul affirms it: “As we work together (synergountes) with him, we urge you also not to accept the grace of God in vain” (2Corinthians 6:1). “The Lord has done —and will do — marvels for us,” but we have to work with him as his instruments.
In Luke 8: 16-18 Jesus tells us the insights we have are meant to be used for others. All of us have particular insights into the truth or the way that leads to life. Our circumstances give each of us a special vantage point, a special viewpoint. To share what we see is leadership. To hide it “under a bushel” is to lose it.
Action: Be Christ’s steward: Take responsibility for initiating change.