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God called us to servant leadership

Archbishop Wenski's vespers message to priests on second night of annual convocation

Archbishop Thomas Wenski preached this message to archdiocesan priests during vespers on Sept. 21, 2022, the second night of their annual convocation, held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Miami Sept. 20-22.

These short verses from Ephesians fit very well into the celebration of today’s feast of St. Matthew, the tax collector turned Apostle and Evangelist. Matthew’s life reminds us that God doesn’t necessarily call the qualified, but he does qualify the called — he works in and through us so that his work of salvation continues in time until he comes again.

As parish priests we are generalists and not specialists. We “multitask,” assuming various roles of service for the building up of the Body of Christ: We are apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers; we are also called upon to fulfill other roles like plant managers and sometimes even janitors. Our talents are not evenly distributed; we do some things better than others. That’s surely part of God’s plan, so that we remember that it is he who saves, and not we.

In any case, like Matthew, the Lord looked on us with mercy and called us to servant leadership in the Church. May we always remember this leadership is about leading others to Christ. It cannot be reduced to “smiles and styles.” The authority of a pastor is not about leading others to himself but to the Lord. He is not to point to himself but to point always to Christ.