Leading Through Self-Offering


The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe | November 24, 2019

See today’s readings here. This homily focuses on the Gospel reading. The archive of all of Fr. Brian’s homilies can be found here: Salesian Sermons


Be a leader.

Something I’ve been taught since I was a child.

And for the longest time, I thought I understood what leadership meant.

    It meant standing up in front of the room giving the speech, accepting the applause.

    It meant receiving the respect and obedience of those tasked with following you.

It meant having a natural charisma that inspired others to do what you envisioned.

    It meant titles and responsibilities and honors.

But then I actually became one.

I got the title.

And realized that leadership involved something I never really accounted for in my equations.

    Sacrifice.

    Putting your life at the service of another.

And I began to see how so many of the things I had to do were actually essential to being a good leader.

    Being the first one there to prep the coffee machine and the last one there after stacking        the last chair and wiping down the last table.

    Being the one to grab the vacuum.  The one to scrub the spill out of the carpet.

Weathering the criticisms that questioned your motives, attacked your character and battered your confidence.

Finding the time to listen to the fears and hopes and losses of those you were tasked with leading.

Realizing there was never enough time. Never enough money. Never enough sleep. And yet, you did it anyway.

So how appropriate that this weekend, the weekend when we celebrate Christ the King, Christ the leader of his flock — we have a reading in which Christ is on the cross.

    Showing us all in his final moments what exactly true leadership looks like.

        Offering himself for the sake of the world.

Listening to the cries of his companion on the cross beside him even as he faced his own impending death

There are no signs of his power.  No adoring crowds chanting his name.  No official banquets or speeches to honor him.

He commands no armies. Orders no one.

And yet, a king nonetheless. A king willing to give his very last breath for those he was tasked to lead.

    His people.

    Us.

My friends, each of us, at our own baptism, were invited to shared in Christ’s kingship.  To reign beside him in the kingdom.

But this Gospel is a stark reminder of what that leadership will look like for each of us.

    It will be a long process of emptying ourselves for the sake of the world.

    It will involve a million little moments in which we put our lives at the service of the other.         Our sister.  Our brother.

It will involve breast-feeding at 1 AM when you are bone-weary and waiting by the door for your son to come home at 3 AM and rocking your feverish child at dawn as she struggles to sleep.

It will involve driving to your friend’s game because it may be the only time he plays that season. Or tutoring your classmate as she panics about the upcoming exams. Or FaceTime-ing long into the night when your boyfriend just needs to talk.

It will involve tackling the dishes after Thanksgiving. And taking out the dog so your spouse can sleep. And putting up the Christmas lights as the bitter winds swirl around you

It will involve taking the extra shift so your colleague can get on the road earlier for the holidays. And scheduling the extra visit to your relative in the nursing home. And stretching the coffee date with a cherished friend as they unpack the baggage they have accumulated since your last date.

It will involve bearing the brunt of criticism. And experiencing our share of failures. And feeling perpetually unappreciated.

It will feel like we too never have enough.  Stretched too thin. Even as we summon     reserves to be there for the one who needs us.

And in each moment in which we lead like Christ, we too will hear that beautiful promise. You too will be with me in paradise.

What a promise. What a gift.

So let us go forth and be the leaders the world needs this day.

May God be Praised.

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