Christ Jesus is the image of the unseen God
and the first-born of all creation,
for in him were created
all things in heaven and on earth:
everything visible and everything invisible,
Thrones, Dominations, Sovereignties, Powers –
all things were created through him and for him.
Before anything was created, he existed,
and he holds all things in unity.
Now the Church is his body,
he is its head.
As he is the Beginning,
he was first to be born from the dead,
so that he should be first in every way;
because God wanted all perfection
to be found in him
and all things to be reconciled through him and for him,
everything in heaven and everything on earth,
when he made peace
by his death on the cross.
The Pharisees and scribes said to Jesus, ‘John’s disciples are always fasting and saying prayers, and the disciples of the Pharisees too, but yours go on eating and drinking.’ Jesus replied, ‘Surely you cannot make the bridegroom’s attendants fast while the bridegroom is still with them? But the time will come, the time for the bridegroom to be taken away from them; that will be the time when they will fast.’
He also told them this parable, ‘No one tears a piece from a new cloak to put it on an old cloak; if he does, not only will he have torn the new one, but the piece taken from the new will not match the old.
‘And nobody puts new wine into old skins; if he does, the new wine will burst the skins and then run out, and the skins will be lost. No; new wine must be put into fresh skins. And nobody who has been drinking old wine wants new. “The old is good” he says.’
He is the head of the Body, the Church.
It should not come as a surprise to us when we are faced with instances where people create an uproar about respecting authority, simply because it happens almost everywhere we go. The same situation occurred when the Pharisees and scribes could not accept Jesus as the head of the church, hence their condescending questions on the conduct of His disciples. We face the same situation today — questioning the way things are, merely to find fault and undermine the leaders of our churches and in our workplace. Sometimes, even we face questions from people who may want to know or even challenge the way things are done at our ministry or workplace.
I was sharing with someone that I am currently one of the ‘Core team in training’ members of our parish youth ministry. This then led to someone questioning me about the leadership of our ministry, without any grounds to do so. I found that it was asked in a way which undermine my leaders. I assured this person that I felt that the right people were doing the right things and I would not want to assume that I am better than the core team, which has been in place for the past few years. The core team members bring with them experiences that are valuable based on their interactions with youths in the parish, as well as working with other leaders in our parish. Their personal journeys and spiritual experience in ministry is invaluable, making them more worthy youth leaders than myself. All this comes from today’s reading where we recognise Christ as the head of the body, which points to each of us being His instruments. Today, let us refrain from ‘falling in’ with the Pharisees and scribes (who undermined the teachings of the Church), by questioning the leadership of our parish priests and ministry heads. It does not matter if we are active in church ministry or not. We all need to recognise that He is Lord and head of the Church. We need to embrace our Pope, bishops, priests, lay leaders unconditionally.
Most of us will agree that there is joy in His presence but how often do we actively seek Him through the Eucharist and the word of God? What is stopping us? Is it our lack of humility? We also encounter God in our suffering. Mother Teresa aptly states that suffering brings you so close to Jesus that you can kiss Jesus. And for those of us who are not in the suffering season, have we at least made any attempt to attend a retreat so that we can be restored in the source of true Joy? Let us recognise that pursuing our passion and achieving our goals does not meet this, it is the Lord who waits at the tabernacle, the confessional. The embrace of the leaders we choose not to accept, because of our lack of humility, is where the Joy of the Lord resides.
Today, if we fail to reflect and do anything, let us just do this one thing – to embrace humility as a way of our life. He is our head and He was humble, humble till death on the cross and we are called to be His with the same humble heart and demeanour.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Josephine Dionisappu)
Prayer: Create in us O Lord, a humble person, renew our self-seeking ways and restore it with humility. Protect us from the temptation of questions and doubting like the Pharisees of the past. Lead us to perfect trust and acceptance of our beloved clergy and lay leaders.
Thanksgiving: Father, you are the Head of the Body; make us worthy to serve in your kingdom, seeking the good of the others above our own.