Servant Leadership

Servant Leadership
Sieger Koder: The Washing of Feet

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.

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