It wasn’t that long ago that I enjoyed playing a game called “follow the leader.” I was a bit smaller and a lot more flexible back then. My friends and I would take turns setting out on a new adventure adding stunts like hopping on one foot, crawling under obstacles like the dining room table, walking backwards and one time, blind-folding each other and using our ears to try a imitate the leader. I believe I cracked my head on something that time!
This game was a good experience for me in life as I quickly learned by example, watching and listening as my sponge-like brain gained knowledge. If you want to learn how to do something, watch how others do it. When I later started my professional life, I was put with a senior technician and was told to try to be like him, or hopefully for the most part, maybe without the grumpiness and the grumbling!
And as I later became a senior tech, the boss started to put newbie’s with me. Some of these folks were really sheltered when it came to working with their hands and even working with the simplest of tools. I watched many a new-hire drilling holes with the drill in reverse but over time and with plenty of examples and patience, they started to imitate what a good technician was capable of!
Well it mostly comes down to how good a teacher the leader is. And of course in life, we come to realize that not every leader is setting a good example. In our maturing in life, we usually all go through times of rebellion and choosing to follow corrupt leaders in our days of demi-godness. But when our mortality becomes clear and we realize we have been wasting our time away after things of this world, we look for examples that help as we try to become more like God and as we seek eternal life. I have heard it said that there are no such things as atheists, only people not wanting the God they have seen exemplified in us!
How can we be a better icon of Christ? We hear in the Gospel reading our Leader inviting us to: “Come after Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” [Mt. 4:19] And then later in His teachings He defines what we need to do: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of the heavens. Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall find mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are they who have been persecuted on account of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of the heavens. Blessed are ye whenever they reproach you and persecute you, and say every evil word against you falsely on account of Me. Be rejoicing and be exceedingly glad, for your reward is great in the heavens, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. [Mt. 5:1-12]
So there you go, follow that leader! Perhaps if your priest was a better example of Christ and followed His teachings faithfully, you too would be a better icon of the One who loves! Please pray for me a sinner!
Fr. Gabriel Weller 6-10-2018