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Last Word: On leaders and followers

by Monsignor Gaspar Ancona 
Image: Cathedral Square Center stained glass window, Jesus with his followersIn the world of images, there is a plentiful variety depicting leaders in action. Sometimes, they are drawn in a solemn and commanding pose, like George Washington crossing the Delaware River to lead his troops in battle. Other times, they are shown in thoughtful conference, with their peers or assistants, to demonstrate that they have the best interests of their people in mind. We often see images of large conference tables where leaders at microphones deliver their statements, while translators labor to convey immediately into a variety of languages what has just been proposed into the wired ears of attendees.
Jesus demonstrated a unique and remarkable style of leadership. He gathered around him a prophetic number of 12 men from different backgrounds, signaling a new people that God was assembling. As God had made the 12 tribes of Israel his own, so now, God through his son Jesus was forming an empowered community. With his Twelve Apostles, he walked from town to village, from seashore to Temple, announcing that God was drawing near. In demonstration of his message, he healed the sick, strengthened those who had lost hope, and even restored life to the dying and the dead.
The images of Jesus that the Gospels have gifted to the world depict Jesus on the move. He is on the waters. He is in the fields. He is at table. He is at the bedside of the sick and dying and at the tombs of the dead with the grieving. He is at the Temple, and, at the last, he is on the cross and in a grave provided for him. Then, with the wonder of the Resurrection, he is once more at table, on the road to Emmaus and on the shore of Lake Galilee.
These are the images of leadership embodied in Jesus. He did not pose for any of them. He was his real self in each and all of them. And in all of them, there is room for us to stand alongside of him.
Photo: Monsignor Gaspar AnconaMonsignor Ancona is a retired priest of the diocese. He was ordained on June 1, 1963. He is an accomplished pastor, teacher, author, spiritual director and preacher.