The Gospel according to Luke (11:47-54)
The Lord said: “Woe to you who build the memorials of the prophets whom your fathers killed. Consequently, you bear witness and give consent to the deeds of your ancestors, for they killed them and you do the building. Therefore, the wisdom of God said, ‘I will send to them prophets and Apostles; some of them they will kill and persecute’ in order that this generation might be charged with the blood of all the prophets shed since the foundation of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah who died between the altar and the temple building. Yes, I tell you, this generation will be charged with their blood! Woe to you, scholars of the law! You have taken away the key of knowledge. You yourselves did not enter and you stopped those trying to enter.” When Jesus left, the scribes and Pharisees began to act with hostility toward him and to interrogate him about many things, for they were plotting to catch him at something he might say.
I think we have all experienced being around leaders or people of influence who say one thing but do another or do not practice what they preach. As a young person it may have been a teacher, nun or priest, or other person in a leadership position. I am not trying to say all teachers, religious, or leaders are not good examples. But sometimes it only takes one bad experience to send us in a harmful direction. As an adult it may be a supervisor, ministry leader, etc. who imposes much but does not contribute with an equal amount of effort or results. In the last part of chapter 11 of Luke’s gospel Jesus is really laying into the Pharisees and scholars of the law. He is addressing the many inconsistencies and obstacles that they impose on the people of God. In today’s reading the constant rejection of God’s message through the prophets, lack of transparency, and lack of sound guidance to the Father are part of what Jesus addresses. And because of this he becomes a target for retaliation.
Have you ever felt like a target when you are trying to do something good? Being involved in different ministries and trying to bring others closer to God brings its challenges. I have heard the closer you are trying to get to our Lord, the harder the devil works to distract you and puts obstacles in your way. In trying to lead others to Christ, I learned that I have to pray for God’s guidance. I must be genuine, authentic, and practice what I preach so people can trust me.
Jesus’ struggles were not as much with the religious leaders of the time but with the attitudes and practices that did little or nothing to develop and maintain a meaningful and transformative relationship with God. And like all of Jesus’ teachings they are meant to make us examine our lives. What am I doing to increase my faith and help others experience the mercy and love of God? Am I walking toward God and bringing others with me or am I moving in the other direction? The consequence is not just my soul but also the souls of those God has entrusted to me. We don’t have to be perfect to lead others. But we do have to be sincere, authentic, and persistent in our efforts to live a life that attracts and guides others into the arms of God.
Action of the day:
Let us all in prayer and meditation examine our role as leaders. Leaders are people who influence others. So we are ALL leaders. Are there any obstacles or challenges that are preventing you or anyone else from a closer relationship with God? May our prayers for each other assist us in discerning Jesus’ warning about our attitudes regarding authentic leadership.