Loading...
Loading...
Click here if you don’t see subscription options
Cristobal SpielmannMarch 08, 2023
Photo from Unsplash.

A Reflection for Wednesday of the Second Week of Lent

Find today’s readings here.

“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.” (Mt 20:26-28)

What makes a good leader?

In today’s Gospel reading, we get a sense of what Jesus sees in his leadership when he is asked indirectly by James and John if they can serve by his side in the kingdom of heaven. Already not the greatest opener to such a loaded question.

And it reveals the failure in asking to rule alongside the most powerful leader of eternity: You do not ask. While directly seeking that power to use at will might be the quality of a powerful leader, is it not the mark of a good leader.

In answering the initial question, the Gospel reveals that is also not the case for the equally flawed opposite to a power-hungry leader: a reluctant leader. If someone is reluctant to take up leadership, especially if it is in the service of a monumental leadership in the kingdom of heaven, how willing are they to stand up for everyone else accompanied in their shared kingdom? You cannot rule over an empty lot.

And reluctance similarly serves more sinister intentions; should no one expect tyranny out of you. You are more open to suggestions and yes-men, and with that power and no guidance, it is like leaving an abandoned firehose on full blast.

As we continue throughout the Lenten season and remember the ultimate sacrifice through our own individual penance, let us also remember to find such good leaders during this time.

Calling back to the Gospel, think of how James and John asked Jesus to sit at his side—through their mother. They cast themselves in relative reluctance in a failed attempt to hold off being faced with the costs of power in such leadership.

What Jesus ends today’s Gospel with is the true base for good leadership, which he casts as service, but could also be understood as sacrifice. Jesus was willing to put his life on the line for all of us. Unlike the kings of his time or the tyrants of today, he knew that his authority could not be upheld by forcefulness. Instead, his disciples recognized through his education and experience the immenseness of his sacrifice and followed suit in their mission.

Good leadership is not an innate trait of great men, nor is it something thrust upon the least deserving in order to avoid creating a tyranny. It is unsought, the result of what we give in service to the mission of Jesus. Those who recognize the goodness of that result will elect to follow. Those who will not are faced with nothing but loss and wrath.

As we continue throughout the Lenten season and remember the ultimate sacrifice through our own individual penance, let us also remember to find such good leaders during this time.

Get to know Cristobal Spielmann, O’Hare Fellow

What are you giving up for Lent?

I am limiting myself to one fish or otherwise Lenten meal a day and keeping the fasting rules of Ash Wednesday and Good Friday throughout the season. I think it is an important reminder for myself of the gratitude I should have year-round for my access to food and of the need to give more to those who are starving.

Do you cheat on Sundays?

No, I do not cheat on Sundays. I was not even aware that cheating on Sundays was a common cheat in Lent until reading through these questions.

Favorite non-meat recipe

While I do not have a favorite non-meat recipe I like to make for myself, there is no way you can go wrong with a canned tuna and hard-boiled egg salad with pickles on toast.

Favorite Easter artwork

It was difficult for me to decide between them, so I would like to recommend two short films. The first I remember watching for Sunday school in preparation for my First Communion is called “Grandma’s Bread,” which revolves around an Italian American family baking Easter Bread, a traditional Italian recipe. The second is an educational stop motion film about the history of the Easter Rising called “Freedom: A 1916 Story,” made for the centennial of the original event and featuring Irish historian Pat Liddy. I see both as reminders of the inseparability of culture and Catholicism during the Easter season, as we interpret Easter’s messages of rejuvenation and hope through our own struggles and sacrifices for our faith.

More: Scripture

The latest from america

Pope Francis gives his blessing at the end of the recitation of the Angelus in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Feb. 11, 2024. On March 3, he renewed his call for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza while while speaking to the crowd in St. Peter’s Square. (CNS photo/Lola Gomez)
At the noon prayer on Sunday, Pope Francis called for a cease-fire and for “the continuation of negotiations” to bring about the release of hostages taken by Hamas and the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza.
Gerard O’ConnellMarch 03, 2024
Thanks to Jack Serio’s direction and playwright Ruby Thomas’s script, “The Animal Kingdom” falls into the category of a difficult but necessary watch, and the questions we are left with inspire us to think more critically about our mental health and relationships.
Michael O’BrienMarch 01, 2024
A letter criticizing Pope Francis for promoting “ambiguities in matters of faith” and at the same time ruling the Catholic Church with an iron fist, is circulating in the Vatican.
In an exclusive interview with Gerard O’Connell, Archbishop Jorge Ignacio García Cuerva explains why his first three Masses in Buenos Aires were celebrated in a shanty town, prison and cemetery.
Gerard O’ConnellMarch 01, 2024