The Ladder – Sunday Homily 11/25/2018

by Fr. Chris Holtmann

Based on the Gospel of John 18:33B-37

Pilate said to Jesus,
“Are you the King of the Jews?”
Jesus answered, “Do you say this on your own
or have others told you about me?”
Pilate answered, “I am not a Jew, am I?
Your own nation and the chief priests handed you over to me.
What have you done?”
Jesus answered, “My kingdom does not belong to this world.
If my kingdom did belong to this world,
my attendants would be fighting
to keep me from being handed over to the Jews.
But as it is, my kingdom is not here.”
So Pilate said to him, “Then you are a king?”
Jesus answered, “You say I am a king.
For this I was born and for this I came into the world,
to testify to the truth.
Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”

Full Transcript of Homily

There are two contrasting people in the gospel.  We Pontius Pilate and we have Jesus. Pontius Pilate is busy climbing the ladder the ladder of power, he is about wanting to be in control of things wanting people to serve Him. Jesus in his power is trying to serve us is trying to serve others. It’s not that power is inherently evil it’s that there is good power, that empowers people, and there is bad power that seeks to control others to dominate like Pontius Pilate. We can prefer to dictate because it’s quick it’s efficient and it gets things done. How often do I hear people say, let’s just get this over with let’s get to the work father. Let’s get to the work and let’s get this done. That kind of power is exclusive, it ignores people’s feelings and thoughts it tends to run them over and in the end of Jesus it kills people.  That kind of power now Jesus had did not have a top-down approach like Pontius Pilate he did not have a top-down approach he had a bottom-up approach. He was inclusive he welcomed the stranger the lame the poor into his circle they become disciples they became the inner leaders, the apostles.

Hierarchy is not bad, however a hierarchy of domination is wrong a hierarchy of service is good and that’s what Jesus sought to establish with his apostles, with Peter. To let them be the leaders of service and show others the power of service and in that process in teaching them Jesus took a painfully long time, leisurely approach if you will to training these people the Apostles and the disciples. If we did that in the business world businesses would fail. If they took three years to train people. Jesus was not about efficiency he was about transformation and doing whatever it took to help people transform in their life. He was not focused on the end product. Christianity is focused on the means not the ends if we take care of the means the ends will take care of itself.  How you get there in life, how you get there is important.  How you get there determines where you will arrive. Purify the inside of the cup and the rest will take care of itself. We have to purify ourselves, we have to get into the nitty gritty and purify our motives and why we do what we do. That’s what matters, that’s where the transformation takes place in our motives of why we do things.  Are we doing things because we’re trying to get something in return, are we trying to get people to help us, to serve us and that’s the reason our motive of why we do things. A lot of our motives are mixed and that is natural, we know that if we do something someone will probably praise us and that’s okay. But our primary reason needs to be about service and when that praise doesn’t come in our life are we getting upset. That’s when we have to step back and say oh yeah I did this because I want to be of service. When I get mad I’m here to do this in service. Are we about that in our life, are we willing to climb down the ladder the ladder of humility that Jesus does in his life. Are we willing to do that in our relationships, so many of our relationships can be about domination. Domination is good in emergencies, it’s good with children and given them boundaries and all those things and teaching them how to grow up. But it’s not good in marriages, there’s always some level of an inequality in a relationship. In a mutual relationship, but it shouldn’t be overbearing, should always focus on serving the other each partner. Should be doing that in our friendships, not dominating our friendships. We need to that do that with our children who have grown up are we still trying to control them. Are we letting them be who they are not only in our relationships. Are we also climbing down the ladder getting off that ladder when it comes to ministry.  A lot of people get into ministry because they want to control things, they want to tell who’s going to heaven and who’s going to hell, alright I want to be in control. yYu can see that with priests and bishops, there’s a lot of top-down approach in our church and that and people, lay people getting involved in ministry a lot of times it’s about controlling. Are we making our ministry about serving others are we making our ministry about including others. And are we including people in our ministry to make decisions is our ministry about transformation as its primary focus as its primary focus that it’s not per se about getting things done. That is good but if that’s our primary purpose let’s open a hotdog stand and be done. Well we’re talking in ministry we’re talking about transformation and our focus needs to be about transformation. A lot of people do not get involved in ministry because they prefer to just tell people what to do a lot of people avoid they much prefer the priest tell them what to do because they don’t want to do anything right. But the only way things will change and the only way that Christ’s mission will be accomplished is if we the people live out our ministry that each and every one is called to. Are we climbing down the ladder of humility using our power, our superpowers to serve others.