Leaders and the Good of All
The Virtue of Solidarity
Jesus told everyone, “The most important person is the one who serves everyone. God will humble everyone who makes himself a leader and will make the humble person a true leader.”
Based on Matthew 23:11-12
Have you ever noticed the attitude of a group is the attitude of the leader? A good class usually means it is taught by a positive teacher. A good team has more than talent. It has an energetic, caring coach. A good family has loving parents. Good teachers, coaches, and parents all have something in common. They all make the dignity and the worth of those they serve their number one priority. They willingly share their time, talents, and money so others can grow.
One word describes the love and sharing attitude of a good leader: “solidarity.” It is a “social charity.” When we practice solidarity with others, we show others (in “society”) that we care for them (with acts of “charity”). Solidarity is the attitude and act of sharing with everyone, especially those who are in real need.
The Common Good
Once, Jesus sat near one of the collection boxes for the Temple. And he was watching how everyone threw their coins into the box. Taking their time, many rich people threw in coin after coin after coin. Then, a poor widow came and threw in two coins that weren’t worth very much. At that, Jesus called his followers together. “Hey, everyone! Listen!” Jesus said. “That poor widow put in more than everyone else put together! For everyone else put in money that they didn’t need to live on. But this woman threw in all everything she had, even the money she desperately need for food.”
Based on Mark 12:38-44
In the poor widow, Jesus saw real solidarity. She willingly shared what she had with others, even the money she needed to live on. But, there are another questions that Jesus implied in the story. What do we owe people like the poor widow? How can we, as individuals and as a nation, show solidarity with people like her?
We show solidarity when we work for the “common good,” the good of everyone. When we respect and promote the rights of the individual, we work for the common good. When we create conditions where both the rich and the poor can attain their dreams and fulfill their abilities, we work for the common good. When we protect those who cannot protect themselves, we work for the common good.
There are many civil and religious groups that we can join as individuals to promote the common good. But we should not stop there. We must insist that government should work for the good of all. After all, good government is based upon the worth and dignity of the individual. Good government encourages individuals and groups to exercise freedom and responsibility. Good government insures equal rights and equal opportunities. Good government protects those who have needs. When government does not work for the good of all, when it does not respect the value of the individual, we must insist that government change.
We have freedom. But with freedom comes responsibility. As individuals and as members of a country, we have a responsibility to create just conditions in our society. We must make every effort for individuals and groups to receive what is truly theirs. This is called “social justice.”
An Example of Both
A small man named Zacchaeus lived in Jericho. No one liked him because he collected taxes for a foreign government. When Zacchaeus heard Jesus was in town, he decided to see the Lord. But he couldn’t see through the crowd. So, he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see Jesus as he passed by. When Jesus came to the spot, he looked up.“Zacchaeus! Get down here fast!” Jesus called out. “I need to stay with your family today!” Zacchaeus jumped down and happily greeted Jesus.
Everyone who saw what happened began to grumble, “Jesus goes to be the guest of this evil traitor!”
Zacchaeus stood tall so everyone could hear him. “Listen, Lord!” he said to Jesus. “I’m giving half of what I own to the poor. And if I’ve cheated anyone, I will repay them four times the amount.”
“The family of Zacchaeus is saved today, because he’s really a son of Abraham,” Jesus replied. “For the Son of Man came to save people who have lost their way.”
Based on Luke 19:4-10
Jesus showed solidarity to Zacchaeus. The Lord respected the little man. In turn, Zacchaeus changed and was now willing to work for the good of others. When we show others solidarity and work for social justice, we, too, can influence others to change for the better.