Today’s reading from the First Letter to St. Timothy may seem to be nothing more than practicality and management notions. Is there something more for us to ponder as we use it to pray this morning?
As the Church grew and spread throughout the world, expanded in number and was plunged into crises of internal leadership and external persecution, the charismatic Christians of which we read in the Acts of the Apostles seem to fall into the background. This is a very real part of our human nature. When we were or are young, we are told that we can do whatever we want and desire in life. As we mature, we begin to realize that we have to have a plan to reach our goals, a structure on which to organize our gifts and talents. As it is with human beings, so it is with human organizations. Make no mistake about it. Our faith is divine. Our Church is human and conforms to human realities of growth and development.
St. Paul writes about the requirements for leadership, yet we might also look at these requirements as “gifts” that are necessary for such positions. Therefore as we read the requirements that St. Paul sets down for those who would be placed in leadership positions in the Church, we could also think of our aspirations and how to best use the gifts God has given us. Some of the sisters and I have been talking about a book lately that I used to assign to my high school English students entitled “Watership Down.” It is, on the surface, about rabbits and rabbit society. A crisis makes it necessary for them to choose a leader. The rabbit who emerges as the leader is the one who is best at recognizing the gifts that each of them brings to the group. Tapping into their gifts makes Hazel, a male rabbit with a female name, the leader who succeeds.
We need both in the church – organization and youthful aspirations. We need the fire and enthusiasm of the young as well as the organization and the soberness of the not so young. As we gather today, we pray for both our leadership and our enthusiasts.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator