Fr Stefan reflects on reading of the day July 25 “We follow a crucified Lord”

The mother of the sons of Zebedee approached Jesus with her sons
and did him homage, wishing to ask him for something.
He said to her,
“What do you wish?”
She answered him,
“Command that these two sons of mine sit,
one at your right and the other at your left, in your Kingdom.”
Jesus said in reply,
“You do not know what you are asking.
Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?”
They said to him, “We can.”
He replied,
“My chalice you will indeed drink,
but to sit at my right and at my left, this is not mine to give
but is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”
When the ten heard this,
they became indignant at the two brothers.
But Jesus summoned them and said,
“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them,
and the great ones make their authority over them felt.
But it shall not be so among you.
Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant;
whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.
Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served
but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mat 20:20-28)

I was ordained a priest on May 18, 1996. I remember going to the adoration chapel at my parish the night of May 17 to get ready for the next day. I opened up the bible at random and got this Gospel. At the ordination mass I was pleasantly surprised that this was the Gospel for the ordination.

Pope Francis when he gave the red hat to the 19 newest members of the College of Cardinals said in his homily, “A cardinal- I say this especially to you – enters the Church of Rome, my brothers not a royal court. May all of us avoid, and help others to avoid, habits and ways of acting typical of a court: intrigue, gossip, cliques, favoritism and partiality. Let us pray once more: Merciful Father, by your help, may we ever be attentive to the voice of the Spirit. My brothers cardinals, Jesus did not come to teach us good manners, how to behave well at the table…Christ came to save us, to show us the way, the only way out of the quicksand of sin and this way of holiness is mercy, that mercy which he has shown and daily continues to show us.”

Jesus is giving us a new model of leadership. Far to often this is not the model that we follow in the Church. As a priest becomes a pastor he graduates to the biggest room and office in the rectory. There are far to many rectories that reflect a palace rather than a home for priests. Pope Francis is calling the church to conversion regarding this.

Recently I was in a rectory that was 3 times bigger than necessary. As I talked to a resident priest we thought that half of the space would never and has never been used. This included the dinning room.

The question is, why do continue to build rectories that are fit for a prince? For the money that we spend to house 2 priest in a house fit for a king, we could build a place for eight priests. Each priest would get a modest size bed room, and small sitting room with a desk. This sitting room would not be big enough for a movie sized TV set. To get to the bed rooms you would have to go through a common room. There could be a nice TV in this room. The idea is that to get to your room you would have to go through the common room thus increasing the likely hood of seeing the other priest and saying hello. The kitchen would be at the front of the house with the chapel at the back of the house.

Jesus in the Gospel is calling us to a different model of leadership. As Pope Francis said to the cardinals, “Yes you are princes of the Church, but princes of a crucified Lord.”

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