My sacristan in Kasibu Parish, a grade 4 boy, pointed one day at the statue of Saint Patrick, our Patron Saint, and asked what he is wearing on his head. I answered: “That is a miter”. He asked, “What is that for?” ” That is a sign of his authority and dignity as a Leader and Bishop in the Church”, I replied.
All Bishops and Leaders wear a distinctive mark that refer to their function in the Community. Think of the special robes, crowns, hats, sashes people wear with its distinctive colors during festive occasions. Think of the bemedalled breasts and number of stars of Generals and other military bras. Even Chiro has its uniform, colored cords and badges to distinguish leaders from members. They are signs of the authority the person holds. Not only special clothing but also titles distinguish the powerful from the common people. Those in power are greeted as Mr. President, His Excellency, Doctor, Dean, Professor, Attorney…. in Chiro we have Leader, Assistant Leader, District Leader, Chaplain and during programs the emcee is expected to greet every dignitary present with his or her right title because such title gives honor and shows that he or she is somebody in the social classification of the community.
But clothes and titles refer only to the function, not to the person himself. In fact, they cover the person and make him invisible. The real greatness or smallness of the person is not in the picture. It is hidden! One of the strange consequences is that titles and higher functions seem even to change the behavior of the person carrying them. All at once we see people after their promotion act with more authority and speak with more conviction. They might even become arrogant. One of my confreres, praising one of his former Superiors, made the following remark about him: ”He was the only Superior who did not change at all when he became our boss. His way of talking, thinking and relating to us stayed exactly the same. He remained as Superior his own good self”
According to the Wisdom of the world it should not be that way! What would happen if the bearer of authority and dignity would be just as anyone else? The system would eventually collapse: no more authority, no more discipline, no more order, it could slide into chaos.