The Good Shepherd of America
"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hireling and not a shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hireling and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me, as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again; this charge I have received from my Father." (John (RSV) 10, 11-18)
The United States is once again in the middle of presidential election politics. Barring some kind of catastrophic circumstance, it appears Obama vs. Romney as the main event this November. Nearly two billion (that's billion with a "B") dollars is anticipated to be spent to put in place the man who will assume the role of being the face of the nation's good shepherd.
Today's Gospel reading for the Sunday Mass points to what it takes to be a good shepherd. Within seven sentences, Our Lord mentions four times that he will lay down his life for his sheep. He will give everything for the sake of those who look to him for leadership. That is not something either candidate has publicly stated he is willing to offer. Being unprepared to make this ultimate sacrifice reveals not so much an absence of fortitude, though a case could be made for that, but rather a deficiency in the one quality needed for any good leader, humility.
To lead, one has to realize that what one is commanding is far bigger than himself. The Office of the Presidency should supersede the ambition and ego of the person who temporarily occupies that office. Americans do not elect kings. They elect good stewards of democracy and the Constitution or at least they should. The challenge is that elected office has lost its way. No longer are shepherds elected but rather hirelings who best serve the interests of their respective bosses. The result is that we the people get thrown to the wolves of pride and special interests which means justice for none.
Christ has given the example of what it takes to be a good leader. Pray that Obamney or Rombama at some point take the time and have the courage to recognize that the job they seek is an endeavor of pure service to the American people. Oh that each candidate would have an assistant whose sole job was to whisper in their ear before every speech:
Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. (Proverbs (RSV) 16,18)