We are pleased to invite you and your family to the 3rd Xavier Family Mass, a monthly celebration of the Holy Eucharist for the entire Xavier community on 06 October 2007, Saturday, 6:00 p.m. at the Angelo King Multipurpose Center.
Archive for September, 2007
One of the enhancements this year in Xavier’s security is the installation of security cameras in strategic areas around campus. Read the rest of this entry »
In line with Ateneo de Manila and Xavier School’s benchmarking with Singapore, a group of Xavier School Administrators from the Grade School, High School and Central Administration, along with the administrators of Ateneo de Manila High School and Ateneo de Manila Grade School attended a Strategic Planning Workshop held last Aug. 28 - 31 at the Ateneo de Manila University ISO. Read the rest of this entry »
On September 1, 2007, more than forty members from Batch ’67 returned to Xavier School to celebrate their 40th year class reunion. Read the rest of this entry »
Every year, a celebration is held with many different activities at many different places. Can you guess what this special event is? That’s right; it’s the National Children’s Book Week! Read the rest of this entry »
Starting September 14, training for the school’s math contestants will be held every Friday from at the Audio-Visual Rooms by various math teachers including Mrs. May Hernandez and Mr. Roldan Tabayoyong. Read the rest of this entry »
The Cultural Counselor from the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China visited Xavier School last Sep. 19, 2007. Mr. Chen Yongshan, the Cultural Counselor, and Mr. Ralph Gao Jingyi, First Secretary, came over for a meeting with Fr. Johnny Go and other top-level school administrators. Read the rest of this entry »
Xaverians who competed in the 7th Biologic Science Competition last September 12, 2007 garnered 2nd and 3rd places. The competition was held at the UP Diliman Insitute of Biology. Read the rest of this entry »
Photos by Jake Ejercito (H4F), H4 Batch Representative
When I saw what the Gospel reading was all about, I immediately decided that I would talk to you about leadership. After all, the Gospel is about the Roman centurion who sent for our Lord to get a cure for his servant. The centurions got their names because they were in charge of 100 soldiers. The centurion in the Gospel described himself as a leader—“a man set under authority, with soldiers under [him].” According to him, one word from him and his soldiers and slaves immediately did his bidding.
All of you will become leaders, whether you like it or not. As you grow and as you go out into the world, you will find yourselves in different leadership positions, whether you want these positions or not, whether you feel you are ready for them or not. The question is not so much whether you will be a leader—that’s a no-brainer. The question is whether you will be a good leader.
From the story of the centurion, we can learn three simple lessons about leadership:
First, a leader should care for the people entrusted to you, especially those who need you and depend on you. The centurion obviously cared enough for his servant for him to ask for help. The Jewish leaders who spoke to Jesus about the centurion spoke about him with appreciation: “He loves our people,” they told our Lord, “and it is he who built our synagogue for us.” I think this is the first mark of a good leader—that he cares not so much about himself and about his power or position, but that he genuinely cares for the people he is leading.
Secondly, it takes courage to be a leader. The Gospel story sounds quite simple and straightforward, but if you know the historical context—how things were in Palestine during the time of our Lord—you will realize that what the centurion did was not an easy thing and that it took a lot of courage. As you know, the Romans occupied Palestine and were widely resented for that, so much so that they were occasionally targets for assassination by the Zealots. The situation would actually be very much like the situation in Iraq today. So what the centurion did would be like an American general asking a local religious leader to help his Iraqi servant. Imagine the negative reaction he would get and because of that, the courage it would require him to do that. But the centurion gathered his courage and did what might be unpopular simply because it was the right thing to do.
I think one leader who exemplified both genuine caring for people and great courage would be Mother Teresa. The woman who was universally called “the living saint” led the Sisters of Charity to roam the streets of Calcutta to gather the poor and the dying to provide them the love of Jesus on their last days on earth. Very recently the world was shocked to learn about Mother Teresa’s so-called crisis of faith. In her letters, Mother Teresa had written about her spiritual trials and sufferings. Many people were surprised because they had expected someone like her to be enjoying God’s consolation every moment of her life; some were even outraged and accused her of hypocrisy and of hiding what they called her atheism. But the world just doesn’t get it. More than anything else, the letters that so painfully described her doubts and longing for God reveal to us the courage of this little woman to do the what was right—to serve the poor—even if she did not have the benefit of feeling the presence of God in her last 50 years.
Finally, the true test of a leader is his humility amidst power. The centurion in the gospel, given his authority, could have even more easily demanded the help he wanted from our Lord, but his request was done with such courtesy, respect, and humility that it touched and even astonished our Lord. There is a saying that power corrupts, and unfortunately, it is truer than you can imagine, so when you find yourselves in a position of power—as I am sure you eventually will—make every effort to nurture humility in your heart.
This humility can be found in Robert Bellarmine, the Jesuit saint whom we honor today. Robert Bellarmine was a reluctant cardinal who lived in the 17th century and who, many historians agree, could have been pope. As cardinal, he exercised his leadership with humility and holiness. It was a time when the Church had to defend its doctrines and ritual, and Bellarmine quickly became the leading figures in print and in the pulpit, but he always did his job with politeness and holiness even when speaking of his religious opponents, never insulting or putting them down as was the fashion at the time.
Bellarmine was so loved and respected that, according to historian Jonathan Wright, when he died in 1621, people flocked to pay their respects, armed with towels, handkerchiefs, and sponges—not to wipe their own tears, but to get some of the cardinal’s blood to preserve it for relics. Once on display, his corpse even needed bodyguards to prevent the crowds from kissing and mauling his face, permitting them only his hands and feet. This strange phenomenon of crowds going wild for Bellarmine’s relics is, if for nothing else, a somewhat gruesome expression of the people’s love for the leader they had lost.
So, there you have it, three simple lessons about leadership from an unlikely model in the gospel: Caring especially for the little people, courage to do what’s right, and finally, humility amidst power.
But there is a fourth lesson about leadership I’d like to add—something that is even more crucial today, I think. And we see this in the Book of Exodus. I don’t know about you, but one of my all-time favorite miracles in the Bible is the parting of the Red Sea. Moses had just led the Israelites out of Egypt and they had just reached the Red Sea. For some reason, Pharoah changed his mind about letting the Israelites go, and he ordered his army to pursue the Israelites. So there they were, Moses and the Israelites, caught between the pharoah’s charging chariots and the Red Sea. As we know from the Book of Exodus, the Lord commanded Moses to open his arms wide as he faced the sea in order to part it and to create a dry path of land for the Israelites to cross. The classic 1956 Cecil de Mille film starring Charlton Heston portrays it dramatically: When Charlton Heston opens his arms, full orchestra music rises and the clouds fall into the sea, and in one magnificent moment the waters are parted for the Israelites. Anyone watching it today would still concede that the crude pre-Lucas and Spielberg special effects notwithstanding, the scene works quite well.
The leader in the story that I’d like to talk to you about is not Moses or even Charlton Heston. Rather it concerns a young man named Nahshon, who, legend has it, stood with the Israelites on the shores of the Red Sea. Imagine the scene: Behind them came the pursuing Egyptians, ahead of them the deep and dangerous waters. When Moses urged Israel to move forward, they were afraid and hesitated. But the boy Nahshon jumped into the waters, and it was only then that the waters parted.
What Nahshon teaches us is that there will be times in our lives when we need leaders who will take the plunge, who will take the initiative where others have never been before. Only when someone takes that first step, will doors open or will seas part. More than ever, the world today needs leaders like that—what with all the new technologies and new issues and questions. We will encounter many new and unique situations that have never been encountered before, for which there are no immediate clear-cut solutions.
And this is a final lesson about leadership: He or she should also take risks and dare to make a difference. When we think about it, all of us belong to this tradition of leadership. Francis Xavier, our school patron, was a pioneer and missionary who was the first to go to unknown lands, and in the process opened many doors and made a great difference.
And so, today, for this batch Mass, this is my prayer for each one of you—you who will become leaders in your own way in the future: That you will become true Christian leaders—caring, courageous, humble, and pioneering. May the Lord nurture your gifts and gather and use them so that through your leadership, you will make a big difference in the world.