Jesus As Leader: Matthew 15:29-37
[Sermon delivered by Eric Hollas, OSB, at Saint John’s Abbey, 4 December 2013]
On a conventional scale of leadership potential, today’s gospel suggests that there’s not a lot of promise in Jesus. He’s attracted a crowd that includes the lame, the deaf and all sorts of suffering people. But there’s no mention of any beautiful or powerful people here. We’d also have to concede that Jesus has drawn to himself those most likely to become dependent, because no one in the crowd has thought to bring food for the journey. These are not the sort of people who will lead the world in new directions.
Jesus had every right to be disappointed, but he wasn’t. His response to the crowd reveals two traits that distinguish him from garden variety leaders, and to these we should pay attention. First, where other people might see a crowd of failures, Jesus sees possibilities. And second, where other leaders might slip away and start looking for a more promising crowd of followers, Jesus turns to minister and care for those in front of him.
That’s a model for leadership that we should consider for ourselves this Advent. Like Jesus, we should be alert to the possibilities. We should be ready to help where help is needed, and see in the least of people what Jesus sees in them. And in doing so, we should remember one final item. As often as not, those people who most need the help of the Lord are you and I.