“How we walk with the broken speaks louder than how we sit with the great.”
By Michele Sweetmon
Recently, on Sophomore Retreat, the students and I explored the concept of servant leadership and the ways that our Baptism calls us to a fuller life of leadership than the secular world does. As the students listed words and phrases that they believe define Christian leadership, an interesting debate presented itself. One student asserted that a leader must be strong, must never show fear or vulnerability, must act decisively at all times. On the other hand, another student explained that leadership requires empathy, understanding and sometimes requires the leader to get into the figurative “mud” with his/her community. Neither student readily understood that a Christian leader must exhibit both styles of leadership.
This conversation lent itself to a lesson on the dichotomy of our faith. Christian leadership is unique: it is not for profit or power – at least not as they are commonly understood. Jesus showed us that profit is measured in relationships, and power is measured in discipline. Consider: Was Jesus powerless or powerful on the cross? Was He the victim or the conqueror? Was He vulnerable or was He strong?
Maybe we need to pause and examine Jesus’ actions to really understand the strength it takes to be compassionate. Picture it:
- A king who was born in the lowest of conditions, who chose to live a life of simplicity: COMPASSION
- A muscular man who spent his life working as a carpenter, who invited the little children to come to Him, who spoke of being the Good Shepherd who will never abandon His flock: COMPASSION
- A man with the power to walk on water, who also walked the path to Golgotha for our sins: COMPASSION
- A man who knows every hair on our heads, who knew that Peter would betray Him and who loves us anyway: COMPASSION
- A man who threw out the money lenders, who loves us enough to model for us the way of the righteous: COMPASSION
- A man who laughed with his friends, who enjoyed bonfires and fishing, who would listen to and heal lepers: COMPASSION
- A man who healed the hemorrhaging woman, who forgave the adulteress, and who treated women with dignity: COMPASSION
- A man with all the power in the universe at His fingertips, who used that power to remain on the cross for us: COMPASSION
The world wants us to believe that compassion is a sign of weakness, a trait we should only develop or exhibit in private situations. Yet the example provided by Jesus shows us that no one is too manly, too strong, too powerful to act with compassion.
According to a document issued by the General Chapter of the Society of Mary, “From the first moment that a student sets foot in a Catholic school, he or she ought to have the impression of entering a new environment, one illumined by the light of faith and having its own unique characteristics.” I love that the value compassion is situated at the center of Gross Catholic High School’s defining “characteristics.” Upon reflection on our charism as Marianists and our joy as Easter people, we can see God’s overwhelming gift of grace poured out on the cross for our salvation as the ultimate act of compassion.
At Gross Catholic High School we are on a mission to educate our students and to challenge our community to bring Christ to the world as our Holy Mother did. We do this through compassion: the compassion to live as a community, responsible for bringing one another to Christ; the compassion to educate students to think rationally so they can form Christian attitudes about contemporary issues; the compassion to see the needs of others and act. Compassion, then, is not a feeling but a choice to walk with strength the path of the broken. Acting with compassion takes a strength the secular world fears: strength fortified by faith.
About Gross Catholic
One of Nebraska’s premier private schools, Gross Catholic High School is a faith and family-based community committed to developing Christian leaders through academic excellence in the Marianist tradition. Recognized locally for its outstanding education, welcoming atmosphere, competitive sports programs, engaging activities, robust faith, and boundless service work, Gross Catholic has energized the Omaha area for nearly 50 years. Gross Catholic recently received the Omaha World-Herald Omaha’s Choice award for private schools.
To discover the Gross Catholic difference, contact us at 402.734.2000 or visit our Admissions page at grosscatholic.org.