Be Influenced & Influencing

January 31, 2021 – Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/013121.cfm)

It is once said that “Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.”

We do all know something about leadership & authority. Many people have exercised their leadership and authority on us. In many ways, they have influenced us. And we have also exercised leadership & authority on others and in one way or another has influenced them. We do know how to be influenced by others & to influence others, as well.   

Sometimes it is even easy to tell who mostly influences other people’s lives. They will quote their parents or a teacher or someone they grew up with who have greatly influenced & lead their lives for better than worse. Yes, influences can be negative. But as soon as someone says: “As my mother always used to say…” practically what follows is surely something that influenced the life of the speaker in a positive way. We consider these leaders or authorities as the great peoples in our lives – the one who made us feel great about ourselves & helped us grow. They have in one way or another helped us form our values & principles in life, and have greatly impacted our lives to be a much better person.

That is what real authority does. It is life-giving, growth-giving, affirmative, positive and helpful. The word itself is an indication of this. It comes from a Latin word “augere”, meaning “to make grow”. Authority then is power or influence not to lord over and control others but to help others grow. Leadership lies not on the power or control you have on others but on the influence & impact you have for others to grow. Not power to lord over others but power to influence & form others.

That is why true indeed, “Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.” It is all about our influence to foster growth on others & help them become much better version of themselves, even with or without our presence.  

In our gospel today we heard that “his teaching made a deep impression on them… because he taught them with authority.” The people who listened to Jesus that day in Capernaum were struck by his authority & leadership.

That is what happened to the people when they listened to Jesus in their synagogue. Hearing him they (even the demoniacs & possessed) began to open up & understand their own potentials & possibilities for life & growth. He gave them hope. He treated them as friends and equals. He did not talk them down, did not flatter & sweet-talk them as the scribes do. He told them instead to be true & be realistic about themselves than they had ever been before. Through the words of Jesus with authority, they realized that God calls them to greater things than they never had thought possible. They come to experience then God’s leadership in their lives.

The same thing happens to us whenever we listen to Jesus, as God’s word for us through the Scriptures. Every time we read or listen to the Word of God, especially to the gospels, challenging it might be, we are influenced by the wisdom and message of Jesus. The words of Jesus have greatly influenced our lives that whenever it is proclaimed to us again and anew, it constantly offers us life, faith, and hope. It challenges to grow to be a much better person before God and other, and it also empowers us to do great things for others.

Being led & influenced by Jesus in our lives do not usually make life easier, but definitely it makes life much more worthwhile! His authority, leadership, & influence do make us now do what all leaders should do: Foster growth and life in oneself & others. In other words, influenced & led by Jesus’ authority, we should also now lead & influence others, by fostering growth & making other people’s lives better.   In this Eucharist today, may Jesus, the Word of God continue to influence and direct our lives so that we could also be a better influence in fostering growth in our church, society & nation. Amen.

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