Today’s readings tell us about the nature of leadership. They tell us that leaders require faith—faith from those who are led by them as much as faith on the part of the leader. The first reading from the Book of Wisdom states “The night of the Passover was known beforehand to our fathers, that, with sure knowledge of the oaths in which they put their faith, they might have courage.”
The fathers of these families held as slaves in Egypt had faith their God would save their children from death and lead them out of slavery to the Promised Land. In the second reading Paul tells how Abraham’s faith-borne courage helped him lead his family through that land, “as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs of the same promise.”
For leaders during times of trial and desperation, faith is their food. It sustains them, and therefore saves those they lead—if they act in GOOD faith.
What’s BAD faith? We see it in many of today’s politicians, who are motivated by faith in themselves. They come to believe they deserve and are entitled to power, therefore they can get away with things their underlings can’t –like cheating on their spouses or e-mailing pornography to their mistresses.
In today’s gospel, Jesus tells us that those acting in bad faith will face the ultimate punishment from their master. “Much will be required of the person entrusted with much,” he says.
Our earthly leaders feed on our good faith, and the resulting power, infused with our tax dollars, can either be nourishment or a drug. Leaders who act in bad faith do so when they become drunk on self esteem.
Peggy Noonan, who was once a speech-writer for Ronald Reagan, and is now a columnist for the Wall Street Journal, equates the good and bad leaders we empower through our tax dollars with cats and dogs:
“When you get up in the morning and feed your dog he looks up at you and thinks: ‘She comes, finds my food and pours it for me—she must be a god.’ A cat thinks: ‘She comes, finds my food and pours it out for me—I must be a god.’”
Noonan concludes that Washington DC has many cats. But putting her little story in the context of today’s readings, Abraham was a dog. Paul was a dog. And we their descendants and disciples in faith are also dogs—with one Master we’re hoping will come home soon and end our hunger.