Qualities of a Leader
Opening Question: What qualities make up a winning team?
First Reading: 1 Corinthians 3:9b-11,16-17
You are God’s home.
God gave me a gift. He gave me the job of laying a foundation to a building, just like a expert. Other people will build on that foundation. Let’s see how others build on it. For, nobody is able to pour a foundation again that has already been laid. That foundation is Jesus Christ himself.
Don’t you know you are God’s Temple? Don’t you know the Holy Spirit lives in you? If a person tears down God’s Temple, God will tear him down! For, God’s Temple is holy. And you are that Temple!
Coach Hughes wanted to make a point. He got up plastic bricks; on each brick he put the name of someone on his team. On other bricks he put the qualities of a good team: teamwork, respect, hard work, and leadership. At the next practice, Coach placed all the bricks together like a building.
Then he asked each team member to take out a quality. “Put out the one you think we can do without and still win.” Slowly one brick came out, then another, and then a third. By the time the fourth brick came out, the structure fell apart.
“What did you learn about the team?” the coach asked. “We need all the qualities to win,” one member said. “Take out just one and the team gets weaker,” replied another. Soon, all the team members agreed that all qualities were needed to make a winning team. And it took all of them to make a winning team.
In today’s reading, St. Paul makes the same point. As a parish, we are like a building. In fact, we are God’s building. Anything that weakens the building hurts us. We need each other and each other’s strengths to keep us together.
Bridging Question: How hard is it to do the right thing?
Gospel: John 2:13-16, 18-21
As the Passover festival approached, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the Temple courtyard at Jerusalem, he found merchants selling farm animals and doves the Jews used to offer God in worship. He also found people who would exchange foreign coins for coins used in the Temple. After he made a whip out of small cords, he threw the animals out of the Temple courtyard, turned the tables of the money changers over, and spilled their coins everywhere. “Take these doves out of here!” Jesus yelled at the merchants. “Do not turn my Father’s house into place for you to make money!” Jesus’ followers remembered what was written in the Bible: “Love for your house burns inside me.”
What sign from God will you show us that gives you the right to do this?” the Jewish leaders demanded.
“Destroy this temple,” Jesus answered, “and in three days I will raise it again.”
“Workers took forty six years to rebuild the Temple!” the leaders shot back. “It will take you only three days to raise it up?”
But Jesus was talking about his body, God’s true Temple. When he was raised from the dead, his followers remembered he always said this. They believed in the scripture verse and in the words Jesus spoke.
When Jesus was in Jerusalem during the Passover festival, many people believed in his name because they saw the things he did. But Jesus did not believe in them because he knew what everyone was like. Jesus did not need anyone to tell him what people were like, for he knew what was in their hearts.
Denise was a quiet, but strong girl. She had more than physical strength. She had a strong heart. She would things others thought weren’t the popular things to do. She would try to be friends with new students at school. She helped out at the homeless shelter. She even stood up in class to defend an opinion everyone else thought was strange. Popularity did not matter to Denise. Doing the right thing did matter to her.
At lunch one day, she was talking to her friends, when she over heard an argument. One of the bullies at school walked into kick ball game, picked up the ball, and announced he needed the ball for his friends. As he began to walk away, Denise ran over from her friends to the bully. “No you don’t!” she shouted as she grabbed the ball away from the boy. “They were playing with it first!”
The boy was stunned Denise took the ball away. He would have taken it back, but, out of the corner of his eye, he saw the playground monitor watching the fight. So, he decided to “discuss” the matter with her. “What gives you the right to take the ball from me?” the bully demanded.
Denise was not going to answer with the same question (“What gives you the right...). And she wasn’t going to tell him she was right and he was wrong. She didn’t want to get into a useless “discussion” with the bully. She just wanted to end the conversation and get back to her friends. “If you want to threaten me, go ahead,” Denise answered. With all the other kids and adults looking on, the bully was in no mood to get in trouble. He said nothing and walked away.
When Denise resumed the conversation, her friends stood there amazed. “Why did you take on the bully?” one of her friends asked.
“It was the right thing to do,” Denise answered.
“What happens if...” one of the girls began to say. Then she stopped. There was no need to worry about the bully picking a fight with Denise. Denise had shown everyone what kind of person she was. People would defend her. They knew she would the right thing without any other reason.
Jesus challenged the bullies in the Temple who would rather make money than allow people to worship God. He did the right thing, like Denise.
Imagine if you had friends like Denise. People who always tried to do the right thing without any other reason. Those kind of people remain true friends. Jesus is that kind of friend.
Closing Question: When have you done the right thing? Did you make friends or lose friends when you did the right thing? Explain.