Tag Archives: discipleship

Is Your Blueprint Babel or Pentecost?

Archbishop Lori greeting 2017 MAC participantsArchbishop Lori, during his homily on Friday at the 2017 Mid-Atlantic Congress, posed the question, “Is your blueprint Babel or Pentecost?”

Will pastoral leaders simply parrot Pope Francis as they explore new ways to build up the church, or truly “deny” themselves and follow the example of Christ, regardless of the consequences?

That was the challenge described by Archbishop William E. Lori Feb. 17, during a late-afternoon Mass at the Baltimore Hilton on day two of the sixth annual Mid-Atlantic Congress.

He began his homily with a comparison of his parents, typical do-it-yourself members of the Greatest Generation, and the builders of the Tower of Babel.

Whereas the former built and remodeled a house in southern Indiana that was founded “on faith, on discipleship and self-giving love,” the ancient builders “sought to build independently of God and even in defiance of God.”

How does that contrast relate to the reorganizations being  undertaken by archdioceses and dioceses around the nation, such as the Archdiocese of Baltimore’s pastorate planning process?

Read the complete article in Baltimore’s Catholic Review

Leadership Lessons from the Saints

francis“Preach the gospel, and if necessary, use words.”

These words attributed to St. Francis of Assisi call us back to the example of Jesus who led by his actions, and then through his words.

As I read and listen to the Gospels, my attention frequently pauses at the places where the evangelists describe what Jesus is doing rather than saying–writing in the dirt, sitting at the well, walking in the garden.

Leadership often takes place more between the words we say and through the actions that we take–having coffee with colleagues, joining in the department celebration, stopping by someone’s office.


Discipleship Is about Making a Decision

NormanEvangelist Luke and Olympian Peter Norman understood the cost of discipleship. And we should pay attention.

Peter Norman was the unknown and unremembered white man on the podium for the 200-meter sprint at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics. He stood beside the two African-American medalists, Tommy Smith and John Carlos, who famously stood in bare feet, and raised their arms in the Black Power salute to show their support for the Olympic Project for Human Rights.

In yesterday’s Gospel, Jesus preaches division, not for division’s sake, but to challenge his listeners, to help them understand that following him was a conscious decision, a decision with consequences, even death.

In choosing to stand with Smith and Carlos, Norman understood the consequences and did not falter. He would have worn a black glove and saluted like Smith and Carlos, had there been a third one. So instead, he wore the same badge that they wore, declaring his support for the cause.

After the Olympics, he returned to a racially divided and deeply segregated Australia. There he was ostracized from sports and life (he struggled just to find employment because of his stance) and marginalized for the rest of his life. He was asked to condemn the other medalists in exchange for a pardon, but he refused.

In the long-run, Smith and Carlos were acknowledged for being on the right side of the civil rights issue. The government’s pardon came too late for Peter when he died in 2006.

“Peter was a lone soldier. He consciously chose to be a sacrificial lamb in the name of human rights. There’s no one more than him that Australia should honor, recognize and appreciate,” John Carlos said.

“He paid the price with his choice,” explained Tommie Smith. “It wasn’t just a simple gesture to help us, it was HIS fight. He was a white man, a white Australian man among two men of color, standing up in the moment of victory, all in the name of the same thing.”

What is the cost of discipleship for you?

Two by Two

twoI’ve heard the Gospel of the sending of the 72 disciples, two by two–frankly, haven’t we all?–so many times over the years. It has never captured my attention like the Passion narrative, parables, or John’s “I AM” discourses. It seemed pedestrian, a set-up to lay the foundation of other passages and what transpired after Jesus’s Resurrection and Ascension.

Until now.

On Sunday, my younger brother was hit by a car while on his bike, trying to avoid another car that was distractedly driving right into him. Like the saying goes, he took it on the chin, breaking his jaw and chin.

Normally, I would have jumped on a plane to be there, but I was already scheduled to jump on another plane to go to the West Coast to see our parents. When we arrived late on Monday, my Mom and I immediately started searching for flights and hotel rooms so that we could turn around and go to him at the hospital the next day.

As the next 48 hours unfolded, we both had this “ah-ha” experience. We couldn’t have done it without the other. While my Mom stayed at my brother’s side, I ran around the city, late at night,trying to get his prescriptions filled so he could be discharged. Sort of a “Martha-Mary” thing. Chicago–where he lives–was my “home town” for many years, and as she said, I know it pretty well. Logistics were my lot. Consolation, empathy, and advocacy were hers. We complemented each other.

We also were there for each other.

We had decisions to make–and we were sounding boards for each other.

We had emotions to express–and we had the other’s shoulder to cry on and ear to bend.

Two by two. That is how we are sent into the world. Two by two keeps up balanced. Two by two tempers anxiety and fosters humility, not egoism. Two by two reminds us that we are not alone.