Reflection for Wednesday, August 20, 2003: 20th week in Ordinary Time.

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Pedersen, Cathy Weiss
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Today we celebrate the Memorial of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, Abbot and Doctor of the Church. As a young man, he responded to his call to monastic life, inviting friends and family members to join him. He was later commissioned to begin new monasteries; however, it was a learning process to develop his leadership abilities which would empower rather than discourage his monks in their work for God. Reluctantly, he obeyed Pope Eugene III's command to preach the Second Crusade, which resulted in disaster. Bernard's enthusiasm to preach the message of God sometimes clouded his ability to temper his over zealous and righteous responses to those who opposed him.|| Bernard was an ordinary human who responded to God's call through others' prompting. He wasn't super-human, infused with an automatic sense of how best to respond to his own call to share his vision and call with others. This is very much what it is like for each of us.| We know that God is inviting/urging us to tap into our gifts and talents, to evolve into the whole/holy person each of us is called to be. However, the road is not clearly marked...we know that our God is with us, but deciphering between our agenda and God's ways can be a challenge.| In Judges today, the people of Shechem and Beth-millo needed a leader after Gideon died. The people were swayed by the fact that Abimelech was one of them and therefore made him their king. However, Jotham (the only surviving son of Gideon) questioned the people's intention. Was it in good faith in God that they chose Abimelech (who had killed all of Gideon's sons except Jotham) or were they furthering their own agendas? Jotham warns the people that if the decision was not made in good faith, God would not be with them. (The parable, Jdgs 9:8-15, presents an intriguing piece for reflection.) |How do we recognize and raise up leaders in our midst? Is it because we see talents and gifts which can truly lead _ guide _ direct _ and show the way to our community as a whole? Or do we choose them in less than good faith, hoping to further our agenda, perhaps to the detriment of the greater community? In the United States we continuously have the opportunity to raise up, support and elect our leaders. With what kind of discerning do we weigh our choices?|Perhaps one way to discern the leadership abilities of potential leaders is to consider the Gospel today. The vineyard's owner hires laborers at various hours of the day... encouraging them to use their ability to work. He empowers anyone who wishes to respond to his invitation. At day's end, the workers are paid, not according to a measured amount per hour of work, but for an honest effort to work. Each and every laborer receives a day's wages. For some, this approach may not work in our economics today, but I think that the owner represents God's presence to each of us. We are invited to use our time and talents. God holds us accountable to respond to the call to be all that we are created to be rather than measuring each of us according to how much we accomplish.|Do our leaders (and do we) serve as guides/inspiration/show the way to others so that all can use their gifts and talents to realize their vocations in life? Or do we/our leaders get in the way of others by trying to put personal agendas ahead of the needs of others - of the community as a whole?| I pray that we consider God's call in today's scripture to each of us and to all of us as a country as we approach the time to select candidates for leadership in the US.
University Ministry, Creighton University.
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