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Wednesday, August 20, 2003

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St. Bernard

Judges 9:6-15
Psalm 21
Matthew 20:1-16

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sacrificing the good, the bad, and the best

"They said to the olive tree, 'Reign over us.' But the olive tree answered them, 'Must I give up my rich oil?' " —Judges 9:8-9

To lead, we must not only give up bad things but even some of the good (even the best) things in life. In Jotham's parable about leadership, the olive tree had to give up its rich oil, the fig tree its sweetness and good fruit, and the vine its wine in order to lead the trees (Jgs 9:9ff).

To lead, Abraham had to be willing to sacrifice his only son, Isaac (Gn 22:12). Joseph sacrificed years of freedom (Gn 39:20). Moses and David repeatedly put their lives on the line. The prophets Isaiah (see Is 20:2ff), Jeremiah (see Jer 20:7ff), and Ezekiel (see Ez 24:18ff) sacrificed their lifestyles to lead in their prophetic ministries. God's entire plan of salvation is a record of leaders who sacrificed all.

Today, priests in the Western world give up marriage and family in order to lead the Church in worship. Religious and lay single people likewise make extreme sacrifices to rebuild the Church or Christianize the culture. Parents often sacrifice almost all their time and energy in order to lead their families.

Jesus sacrificed everything — even to death on the cross — in order to be our Leader in salvation (Heb 2:10). Will you decide to imitate Jesus Who is both Leader and Sacrifice?

Prayer:  Father, give me the sacrificial love to lead to the maximum.

Promise:  "The last shall be first and the first shall be last." —Mt 20:16

Praise:  St. Bernard had such a supernatural insight into the love of God that he wrote over seventy sermons on the first two chapters of Song of Songs alone.

Reference:  (For a related teaching, order our tape Prophetic Life Style on audio AV 75-3 or video V-75.)

Nihil Obstat:  Reverend Richard L. Klug, February 27, 2003

Imprimatur:  †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, March 3, 2003