Should every religious leader be respected twice? Isn't it by wishing for this turns a religious leader into superiority and becoming someone who is hungry for power? Do we as pastors, nuns and brothers need double respect for preaching the gospel? Or do we as faithful Christians need double respect from non-Christians? These are my basic questions after meditating on today's passage (1Tim 5: 17-25).
It was after reading this text over and over and reading some exegesis that I realized I was wrong. This letter was written by the apostle Paul to Timothy about how to take care of the congregations in the early church of that time. It is clear that the double respect is meant to give responsibility for a leader. How a leader conducts himself in service and association with the people.
The purpose of paying homage to elders or religious leaders is not merely aimed at an assembly of elders or religious leaders. Respect does not show the superiority of rulers or religious leaders. This advice, if read more carefully, is aimed more at the congregation, for us to appreciate every person who is specially called and devotes himself to religious life or those who are ordained to be God's servants.
People like us respect the clergy not because they have a respected answer in the church but as an awareness of our faith, a gratitude for the service and a form of responsibility as believers towards them. For they have sincerely sacrificed their hearts and energy, family and all personal affairs for the interests of ministry and also for the spread of the gospel.
However, is it true that those who are summoned truly do not have a thirst for power, honor or position? For example the measure used in choosing people for the gospel ministry or the celebration of the Eucharist – Does their rich or poor background matter? On the other hand, do we as people always demand every clergy to be perfect regardless of their human weaknesses?
Let us respect each other!
Reflection on 1 Timothy 5: 17-25 by Sandre Loreng, SVD