Sunday Scriptures

Gospel Has Beautiful Image of Leadership

By Father Alonzo Cox

Just about a year before I was appointed to be a pastor, I participated in a yearlong program called “Good Leaders, Good Shepherds.”

The program was made up of several priests within the Diocese. The group was very diverse and reflected several years of priestly ordination. I happened to be the youngest priest in the group, therefore I was excited to hear the pearls of wisdom about how to be a good Pastor.

In one of the very first sessions, the instructor told us, “In order to be an effective leader, you must acknowledge the fact that you need be led as well.”

I have always kept that image in my mind, especially over these last seven years as a pastor. Our Lord gives us this beautiful image of leadership in today’s gospel.

No disciple is superior to the teacher, but when fully trained every disciple will be like his teacher. All of us are on a journey, led by the Shepherd, Jesus Christ, as he leads us to the Father’s house.

Jesus challenges us not to fall into the trap of thinking that we are superior to another because we hold a leadership title. To lead God’s holy people means that we must allow Christ to touch our hearts in bringing others closer to him.

We cannot be good leaders and good shepherds if we cannot allow Christ to lead us closer to his most Sacred Heart.

We must eradicate the notion that because one exercises leadership means that they have power. All power and authority belong to Christ and Christ alone.

The Lord uses us as instruments of his love and mercy, that as we lead others, we do so with the compassion and love of the Savior. From that, we will be able to produce fruit that will grow in abundance.

I had the great joy of inviting many of my family and friends to my canonical installation as pastor. Many of them were happy for me, believing that with this new responsibility, I now possessed power.

Knowing that being a pastor comes with serious administrative and canonical responsibilities, I knew that I did not have “power” in the way they were perceiving it to be. We all must work together, as brothers and sisters in building up the Kingdom of God here and now.

St. Paul tells us in his letter to the Corinthians, we must all be steadfast and devoted to doing the work of the Lord. Each of us can bring our strengths, gifts and talents to doing the work of the Lord in our communities.

Being a shepherd means acknowledging your own weaknesses and allowing our brothers and sisters the opportunity to build upon their talents. We must lift each other up in building our community, not tear each other down.

We can produce good fruit once we all come together, as a family of believers, rooted in Jesus Christ our rock and solid foundation.

We must continue to be led by his word and nourished with his Sacrament. As we are reminded in today’s first reading from the Book of Sirach, the fruit of a tree shows the care it has had.

May we continue to produce good and holy fruit that will last for ages to come. 

Readings for 8th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sirach 27:4-7

1 Corinthians 15:54-58

Luke 6:39-45

Father Cox is the pastor of St. Martin de Porres Parish, Bedford-Stuyvesant and coordinator for the vicariate of Black Catholic Concerns for the Diocese of Brooklyn.