The opening lines of our reading from the Book of Wisdom indicate the intended audience for this particular admonition. Hear, O kings. Listen and understand, you magistrates. Pay attention, you who have authority over others. I suspect that some of us might be thinking, “This bit of Scripture is not directed to me.” Nothing could be further from the truth. This reading, like all of Scripture, speaks to each of us in our daily and ordinary lives. Whether we want to admit it or not, we all have authority over or are leaders of others in various situations. We may not be kings or queens, magistrates or civic officials, police officers or officials. However, we are all called upon to exercise some sort of leadership with and for those we live with.
So the message we hear this morning applies to all of our lives. The message is simple. God wants us to exercise our leadership without dominating. Each of us has talents. We are to use those talents generously. Each of us has been blessed by God with character traits that can be used to help others. We are to use them carefully without offending or putting others down.
I am reminded once again of a favorite novel that I used to teach my students in English class, a novel by the name of “Watership Down.” I may have mentioned it before, and I know that I have shared my love of the book with some of you. It concerns a colony of rabbits that is threatened by human encroachment on their habitat. They are forced to move. However, the leader of the warren refuses to move. So a group sets out on its own to find a new place to live. One of the rabbits, Hazel, a male rabbit with a female name, emerges as the leader of the colony not because he is the strongest or biggest, but because he understands the talents of each of the other rabbits and gets them to use their particular skill to further their cause. He does not dominate. He serves the needs of the group.
The words of the Book of Wisdom fit this situation so well. “The God of all shows no partiality. God made the great as well as the small and provides for all alike.” Each of us embodies the provisions God has made for the community.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M.