The Responsorial Psalm invites us to pray: “Lord, in your great love, answer me” (Psalm 69).
Romans 11: 29-36 reminds us that the key to good leadership is forward motion. St. Paul sees Israel failing as a whole to accept the Good News of Jesus as Messiah. But he looks backwards to predict the future. He declares the Jews beloved of God because God chose their ancestors and made his covenant with them. He predicts that “all Israel will be saved” (11:26): “for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.”
Paul doesn’t bog down looking at what is negative in the present or adding up again the failures of the past. He doesn’t get fixated on the human but looks to the divine mind and heart of God. This is where hope is found; this is what points to the future and gives direction for the future.
O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
We can look at past or present failures in the Church, identifying bad attitudes and behavior in clergy and laity alike. But if we do, we should see these realities as God does: in the context of what his love and mercy are going to accomplish. The key to understanding everything lies in understanding God. And God is leading the human race to the fullness of life. “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen.” When we pray for the Church our hope is in his love: “Lord, in your great love, answer me.”
Luke 14: 12-14 shows us that, although Jesus was attacked more by the Pharisees than by anyone else, and criticized them most severely, he did not refuse to associate with them. He is having dinner at the home of one of the leading Pharisees (14:1), and he uses the occasion and the setting to repay his host with spiritual food: “When you give a luncheon or a dinner…. invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
Jesus is showing leadership by looking at the present and seeing the future; looking at what humans do and thinking about what God does. He is comparing the present banquet with the “wedding banquet of the Lamb” (Revelation 19:9), where the guests will be the ones he just described, “the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame” (14:21). Whatever he sees in the present that is defective, he reexamines under the lens of God’s redeeming love. This is leadership.
Initiative: Be Christ’s steward. Believe in the future. See it in the present.