Servant Leadership

A guest post by Esmey Herscovitch RSCJ on the Liturgy for the 29th Sunday of Ordinary Time – year B – 21st October 2018

As we begin we remember that we are on Aboriginal land and we acknowledge the lives of those who have gone before us on this land. On 26th October this week we remember the handing back of Uluru to the traditional owners. [Find out more here]

Today we are hearing about the request for honour and status on the part of James and John and the consequent indignation on the part of the other apostles.  It seems that we human beings need constant reminders that our call is to servant leadership, not a call to be on top, or first or having a place of status or honour.

One of the many significant religious paintings in recent years is, in my opinion, this one by Sieger Koder, which shows Jesus washing the feet of Peter.  We do not see the face of Jesus in this except his reflection in the dirty water.  Here we have a perfect illustration of a leader who serves, and Jesus here and in today’s gospel reading is trying to teach us that leadership is about service, not about having status or power or privilege. Pope Francis is a very real example of a leader who serves. Servant leadership will also involve putting ourselves on the line as did Oscar Romero who was canonised recently.  He did drink the cup, was baptised i.e. overwhelmed with suffering, as was the suffering servant in the first reading of our liturgy today, and as Jesus was.   Suffering on the part of Jesus enables us to face our suffering more serenely, knowing that we are not alone in the experience. Certainly the gospel calls challenge us in ways that are very much in opposition to what human nature craves.

Mary’s Contemplative Leadership

Have you ever heard of Mater Admirabilis? Her feast day is on 20 October.

I got to know this well-loved image of Mary when I worked with the Religious of the Sacred Heart. If you visit a Sacred Heart school, you will surely find a version of this image somewhere on campus. If not, just ask “where’s Mater?”

You can read the story of how this image came into being, and how she got her name here.

Mater Admirabilis speaks to me of Mary’s contemplative leadership, of her attentive listening and active response to God’s call, as I explain here. She seems an appropriate patron for the listening stage of the preparation for the Plenary Council of the Catholic Church in Australia in 2020.

Mother Mary, Most Admirable of Disciples,

help us to listen attentively to God’s deep desires for us

and to respond whole-heartedly!


Sandie Cornish

Holy Week – It’s Not Over Yet

Guest post by Esmey Herscovitch RSCJ for Holy Week.

There is a little book by Brendan Lovett entitled It’s Not Over Yet … Christological Reflections on Holy Week.

At this time of Holy Week we are aware of the experiences of Jesus some two thousand years ago – experiences of fickleness, infidelity, ridicule, mockery, humiliation, betrayal, violence, physical and mental anguish and pain.

In St Mark’s Gospel the graphic words in chapter 14 verse 33: “And a sudden fear came over him, and great distress… and he said to them ‘my soul is sorrowful to the point of death'” capture those experiences in some way, but as we look at what is happening to the Rohingya people, the peoples of Congo, Yemen, Syria and so many other places as well as to the physical world we can get an inkling of what Jesus also experienced.

We reflect that what is done to the least of people is done to Jesus so Jesus continues his passion in our world today – certainly “it’s not over yet”.