Thursday of the Fourth Week of Easter
No servant is greater than his master ( Jn 13/16a)
To my mind, one of the most heartening developments of recent decades is the effort of many disciples of Christ to understand him as a most attractive human being, one endowed with talents and gifts to inspire us to live a happy, fruitful life in this world. Protestant thinkers and authors are without doubt in the forefront of this movement. Two of the best known books that try to understand Jesus from this perspective are Jesus CEO and Lead Like Jesus Ministry. These books proclaim Jesus as the most influential leader of human kind. As the well-known quote A Solitary Life affirms, “ all the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever sailed, all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned, put together have not affected the human race as that one Solitary Life.”
Jesus is indeed the greatest leader of humanity. After all, he is the founder of the most influential movement of world history, Christianity. One of the qualities of great leadership is authenticity. The influential leader does not make false promises to his followers, nor does he lower the demands made of his followers just to gain or retain more adherents. He inspires and challenges them rather than cajole and entice them. Jesus, the authentic leader, is no deceptive diplomat.
In the Gospel of today, we have a typical instance of this quality of Jesus, the greatest leader. He tells them very plainly, No servant is greater than his master. Jesus was fully aware of what awaited him in his passion beginning with the betrayal by Judas. Jesus knew this would shatter the faith and trust of his most intimate followers. He believes in forewarning his disciples so that they are forearmed.
We are followers of Jesus too. The warning given to the apostles applies to each one of us. Following Jesus is not a bed of roses. We need to brace ourselves for trials and temptations, betrayals and persecutions. The many events in the world of today clearly prove this. Nevertheless, Jesus assures us happiness will be yours if you behave accordingly.