All Christians are called to the same thing—to be like Christ

Homeless memorial service. Photo: Alphonsus Fok.

Continuing our journey of discovering who the church is during the Season of Pentecost, we find ourselves celebrating the 8th Sunday of Pentecost in the Maronite Liturgical Calendar.

We have come to know how the church was instituted, we have come to know the work of the Trinity in the church, we have understood the commission of the Lord to baptise in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and to love as he loved.

We have come to know how the church is to operate, and this week, we learn about the characteristics of those who are to lead. We are introduced to the spirituality of the Apostles.

In the Old Testament reading from Isaiah 42:1-8, the faithful servant is introduced. This servant of the Lord is one who strives for justice, in a sense—he is meek, not screaming out or prophesying on the streets.

This servant will have compassion, not breaking a bruised reed or quenching a wick. The flame of his zeal will burn continuously until the work of divine justice is complete, until the teachings of the Lord have been heard.

This servant isn’t one who chooses his own path, but is chosen and elevated by the Lord to bring light to those in darkness, to bring freedom to prisoners.

He is one the Lord has grasped by his hand and set him on a path to open the eyes of the blind.

A true leader, according to Isaiah, is one who will allow his actions to speak louder than his words, one who will allow himself to live his life on the path chosen for him by the Lord.

This idea of a chosen leader is further emphasised in Romans 8:1-11. Any person chosen who lives in Christ is liberated from the law of sin and death.

Living in Christ and for Christ means we live in the Spirit of Life, not condemned to the darkness of flesh, yet liberating those around us with the light of the Spirit.

It is through the Spirit that those chosen can truly live a meek and compassionate life for the sake of their flock, for their concern becomes peace, not hostility or judgement.

This is living the resurrection, for where there is suffering, death and darkness, the light borne by all faithful from the empty tomb becomes a beacon of hope, justice and peace for the nations.

A woman volunteering with Angels for Humanity. Photo: Unsplash.

The prophetic ideals of a leader read in Isaiah and the ability to live in the Spirit shown in the Letter to the Romans finds completion in Christ, the true role model for all leaders. In Matthew 12:14-21, we read that the Pharisees took counsel against Jesus, plotting to put him to death.

Christ could have summoned the hosts of heaven to his defence. Yet, what would that have taught?

Instead, Christ fulfils the prophecy of Isaiah, bringing divine justice to the nations, not one of punishment and condemnation associated with the law of the flesh, yet a justice filled with the Spirit, filled with compassion.

This justice can be seen through the actions of Christ, in times of trouble, going out to heal those in need, bringing vision to the blind and light in the darkness of the world.

This is a true leader, one who acts, and many follow, as opposed to the Pharisees, who scream and shout, yet none listen.

A true apostle, a true leader in the church, is one who serves. The faithful do not need to be ordained priests or enter consecrated life or elevated to the episcopacy in order to live the characteristics of an apostle.

We are all called to be church leaders, each in our own way and living the graces given to us in the Mystical Body of Christ.

We are all called to serve along the path we journey on, we are all called to serve in the Spirit of Life, we are all called to serve in the image of Christ.

All the faithful are called to lead in the world, bringing the light of the Good News to the nations, bringing justice, peace and compassion.

We are called to be the image of the eschatological fulfilment of Eternal Life, living today as we would then.

Most importantly, we are called to action, not simply speaking or writing words of beauty or empowerment, but living lives worthy to be called Christ-like, to be called Christian.

Fr Eliah is a monk of the Lebanese Maronite Order who serves at St Charbel’s Monastery and Parish in Punchbowl (NSW).

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