Jeremiah 18:18-20 ; Matthew 20:17-28
The prophet Jeremiah was not only a faithful and great prophet of the Lord, but he was also a sensitive soul. He took to heart the wicked machinations of his enemies conspiring to do away with him. The verses today (Jer 18:18-20) contrast the words of the plotters (v18),
“Come let us make plots against Jeremiah…”
with the prayer of the prophet which expresses his anguish knowing the plotters want to do away with him.
The Church Fathers saw in the scheming of these plotters a type of the plotting and scheming that Jesus faced. Many of the Jewish authorities wanted to do away with Jesus. They tried to trap Him in His own words just as Jeremiah’s adversaries had done.
The Jewish leaders had forgotten what it meant to be a leader of God’s people. It was not a ticket for personal advantage. Alas they seemed to be more concerned with holding on to their power and status, especially in the fragile situation of Roman occupation. They feared that it all could be lost so did not hesitate to do away with this man from Nazareth who threatened to destabilise everything.
Sadly, even today, there are those in the Church that fear the loss of their status or power. And I have to hold my hands up and confess that I also feared such a loss when I contemplated leaving my position in the Church of England to become a Catholic. Status for religious leaders can become far too important and can lead them to become corrupt and be tempted to do some very evil things. So our Lord’s answer to the mother of James and John who asks that her sons be given status in the Kingdom, is to be kept in mind by all who are called to leadership especially in the Church, but also in the world. Jesus said,
…whoever would be great among you must be your servant…even as the Son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.
Please pray for those called to Holy Orders in the Church. It is so very easy to be trapped by our perception of our “status” as if it belongs to us. Of course it doesn’t! For while the priest is to be respected because he acts in persona Christi capitas, the priest is ordained to be able to act in the person of Christ the Head primarily for service to the people of God, and not for personal kudos!
Remember too those who are called to lead in all walks of life, that they too will see it as a service and not be concerned with their status. And if you are called to lead always remember leadership is a service for others and not a ticket for personal advantage.