Listening and Leadership

Today’s readings include a first reading from the Letter to the Hebrews. I am writing this on a Sunday afternoon, and it is hard not to think about the events of January 6th at the Capitol when the halls of Congress were invaded by a mob who had been encouraged by the President. The news channels are today filled with talk of a second impeachment. And the words from the author or Hebrews linger like an echo.

Oh, that today you would hear his voice,
“Harden not your hearts as at the rebellion
in the day of testing in the desert,
where your ancestors tested and tried me
and saw my works for forty years.
Because of this I was provoked with that generation
and I said, ‘They have always been of erring heart,
and they do not know my ways.’
As I swore in my wrath,
‘They shall not enter into my rest.’” (3:7-11; referencing Ps 95:7-11)

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Sinning against you: listening

Sin, of whatever form, is not to be tolerated within the disciple community, but is to be dealt with when it is noticed. But what is at stake is winning over the brother or sisters. The pastoral purpose of the approach is underlined by the verb “win,” which shows that the concern is not mainly with the safety and/or reputation of the whole community but with the spiritual welfare of the individual. “Win” suggests that the person was in danger of being lost, and has now been regained; it reflects the preceding image of the shepherd’s delight in getting his sheep back (v.12). Continue reading