Author

Frederic  Kass

Choosing the New Leader

  


EVERY five years the bishop and the parish priests choose a community leader for their province. The year is now 1885. Today is September 4, when the first hints of the cold rainy fall can be felt before the cold rains and cloudy days take over. The place is a province in northern Hungary in a northeastern part of the Austro-Hungarian empire.

This choice of community leader is made for the person who gave the most to the community, considered to have the highest of character and, most highly respected.

The gathering of the town council, with religious leaders, notables, representatives of the business and farming community, would take place in two weeks. Round the clock discussions would lead to a final vote the day before the gathering on Monday.

Today was one of the last sunny days, with a little taste of the early fall wind and cool moist air for the change of seasons. John Czesky was leaving his office in the center of town. He owned the provincial bank, and the meat packing company that supplied meat for the entire province. He was clearly one of the wealthiest people in town.

John sat in his buggy thinking about the honor he was to receive.  He was already 42 and had waited for years for his turn as community leader. As community leader, he would chair every fundraiser. He would serve as the main emissary between the province, and the king and foreign visitors. He thought of the connections he could make to expand his banking and buy additional businesses. The current leader had retired months early and left to join his family in retirement.

John said to his servant. Jacob Fuirczek, who was driving the buggy.

“haven’t i been the most generous giver?”

“yes sir, Mr. Czesku”, replied Jacob.” John Czesku was a very formal individual, demanding he be addressed properly by all his employees and servants. 

“And, Jacob, wasn’t I the one who gave the most generous gift to start the new Sunday school for the provincial capital?”

“Of course, Mr. Czesku”, Jacob answered dutifully. Jacob knew that his boss was very generous and had provided money for good causes. He also knew that he was a bit tight in paying his employees. Privately, Jacob wished that George Banarde, the town’s shoe repairman, would receive the award. Jacob was an unassuming successful small businessman who was well liked by all segments of the province. He often performed unrecorded kindnesses to people in need.


John Czesku and his wife were just awakening after having attended a very lavish gathering in the adjoining province where john had presented a gift for the regional orchestra in the empire.  They had a very busy week. John was looking forward to a restful weekend in preparation for receiving the community leadership position and award. 

Just then, john and his wife heard a series of knocks on the front door of the main house where they were staying.  Jacob awoke and went to answer the door.  John Czesku put on his robe to see what was happening and followed Jacob closely to the front door. 

A poorly clad man in a dark coat with fraying edges and sleeves and old shirt and pants had just gotten off an old horse he had been riding. He was standing in front of the door

Jacob opened the door.  He and the poor man looked at each other. 

Jacob said, “What can i do for you”. 

The poor man answered: “I have not had a meal for two days and i am tired and hungry. Please help me.”

Just as Jacob opened his mouth to answer, barely getting out the words to invite the man inside,  Czesku, standing in the doorway behind Jacob, interrupted, saying: 

“You need to go to the church in the center of town, i am getting ready for a special event. You have awoken me and i needed this rest. Best of luck. Just go to the church.

Cesku did not feel guilty in the least as he had given generously to the church. Cesku barely noticed how the profound exhaustion and sadness which was etched in the poor man’s face.

                                              The Award

The guests had gathered. The finest of coats, dresses, hats and shoes were worn.  From the richest land owner to the modest shop owner and the family farmer, the main gallery of the church yard was filled by over one hundred people there by invitation.

The instruments played as the bishop appeared in the entrance with his assistants.  This ceremony would be performed with its small moment of pomp and circumstance.

The leading members and favorites of the Bishop stood in the front row. In the center stood John Ceszku with his finest of clothing. Three persons to the left of him stood George Banarde dressed well but modestly in his holiday church clothes. 

“how are you?” Ceszku said politely to George Banarde who nodded in return. Cesku continued. “i look forward to our working together on the next community project”.

Again, George smiled and nodded, not wanting to be rude with conversation as the bishop entered the stage in front of the central yard.

The bishop approached the podium. Speaking into the bull horn to magnify the strength of his voice as he began:

“I am your Bishop, Reverend Bernard Matthew. Today, we gather to honor the person who represents the best in tradition of giving and community leadership. For the next five years this person will lead our fundraising efforts, our outreach programs for people in need, and will be the lay emissary of the people to the church.

“This has been a difficult choice as we have many fine members of our community. Our choice today does not in any way diminish the work and my affection and value for the love and kindness to our congregation and province shown by the top leadership, standing in the first row.“

The bishop then shared a brief homily on scripture.

He continued: “now we come to the granting of the possession of this chalice upon which is written ‘love your neighbor’. By handing this to the chosen recipient of this honor, the office of community leader is officially transferred and bestowed.”

The bishop strode down the steps off the stage to the first row of dignitaries standing before him. Directly in front of him was John Cezku. Cezku smiled at him, fully expecting to receive the chalice.  The bishop approached him, shook his hand and said to Cezku. “I appreciate everything you have done and wish for our continued friendship and work together”

Then Cezku nodded and was about to reach out as if to receive the chalice. Yet, the bishop walked on and came to George Banarde.  “George, will you accompany me to the stage?”

“Yes, your Excellency “, George replied with controlled surprise.

The Bishop and Banarde walked up the stairs to the center of the stage and speaker’s podium.

The bishop then recounted the many good deeds of Banarde. Even though Banarde did not keep a record of his work, the bishop for years had been receiving reports and glowing accounts of the kindess and generosity from Banarde.

“in accordance with the pronouncement of the provincial council, and the authority of my office, i hereby confer to George Banarde, the office of community leader! “

He then handed the chalice to Banarde. Banarde was overwhelmed almost to tears and then gave his acceptance.

At the reception, John Cezku was very subdued. He did not want to say anything to the Bishop and cause any offense.

The Bishop went up to Cezku and said:

“John, my friend, I appreciate everything you do and look to our working together for many good things.  What i am about to say, i hope will help you in your life and for five years from now.  You are not quite ready to be community leader.”

Cezku looked at the bishop with a puzzled expression.

“Do you remember the poor man who came to you hungry and tired and asked for a meal and rest so he could go on?” The bishop continued.

“Yes”, Cezku answered’”

“Do you remember what you said to the man and how you treated him?”, the Bishop inquired. The bishop looked at Cezku.

Then Cezku knew all about the poor man and realized the lesson that the kind Bishop had taught to carry with him from this day forward.

John Czesku and his wife were just awakening after having attended a very lavish gathering in the adjoining province where john had presented a gift for the regional orchestra in the empire.  They had a very busy week. John was looking forward to a restful weekend in preparation for receiving the community leadership position and award. 

Just then, john and his wife heard a series of knocks on the front door of the main house where they were staying.  Jacob awoke and went to answer the door.  John Czesku put on his robe to see what was happening and followed Jacob closely to the front door. 

A poorly clad man in a dark coat with fraying edges and sleeves and old shirt and pants had just gotten off an old horse he had been riding. He was standing in front of the door

Jacob opened the door.  He and the poor man looked at each other. 

Jacob said, “What can i do for you”. 

The poor man answered: “I have not had a meal for two days and i am tired and hungry. Please help me.”

Just as Jacob opened his mouth to answer, barely getting out the words to invite the man inside,  Czesku, standing in the doorway behind Jacob, interrupted, saying: 

“You need to go to the church in the center of town, i am getting ready for a special event. You have awoken me and i needed this rest. Best of luck. Just go to the church.

Cesku did not feel guilty in the least as he had given generously to the church. Cesku barely noticed how the profound exhaustion and sadness which was etched in the poor man’s face.

                                              The Award

The guests had gathered. The finest of coats, dresses, hats and shoes were worn.  From the richest land owner to the modest shop owner and the family farmer, the main gallery of the church yard was filled by over one hundred people there by invitation.

The instruments played as the bishop appeared in the entrance with his assistants.  This ceremony would be performed with its small moment of pomp and circumstance.

The leading members and favorites of the Bishop stood in the front row. In the center stood John Ceszku with his finest of clothing. Three persons to the left of him stood George Banarde dressed well but modestly in his holiday church clothes. 

“how are you?” Ceszku said politely to George Banarde who nodded in return. Cesku continued. “i look forward to our working together on the next community project”.

Again, George smiled and nodded, not wanting to be rude with conversation as the bishop entered the stage in front of the central yard.

The bishop approached the podium. Speaking into the bull horn to magnify the strength of his voice as he began:

“I am your Bishop, Reverend Bernard Matthew. Today, we gather to honor the person who represents the best in tradition of giving and community leadership. For the next five years this person will lead our fundraising efforts, our outreach programs for people in need, and will be the lay emissary of the people to the church.

“This has been a difficult choice as we have many fine members of our community. Our choice today does not in any way diminish the work and my affection and value for the love and kindness to our congregation and province shown by the top leadership, standing in the first row.“

The bishop then shared a brief homily on scripture.

He continued: “now we come to the granting of the possession of this chalice upon which is written ‘love your neighbor’. By handing this to the chosen recipient of this honor, the office of community leader is officially transferred and bestowed.”

The bishop strode down the steps off the stage to the first row of dignitaries standing before him. Directly in front of him was John Cezku. Cezku smiled at him, fully expecting to receive the chalice.  The bishop approached him, shook his hand and said to Cezku. “I appreciate everything you have done and wish for our continued friendship and work together”

Then Cezku nodded and was about to reach out as if to receive the chalice. Yet, the bishop walked on and came to George Banarde.  “George, will you accompany me to the stage?”

“Yes, your Excellency “, George replied with controlled surprise.

The Bishop and Banarde walked up the stairs to the center of the stage and speaker’s podium.

The bishop then recounted the many good deeds of Banarde. Even though Banarde did not keep a record of his work, the bishop for years had been receiving reports and glowing accounts of the kindess and generosity from Banarde.

“in accordance with the pronouncement of the provincial council, and the authority of my office, i hereby confer to George Banarde, the office of community leader! “

He then handed the chalice to Banarde. Banarde was overwhelmed almost to tears and then gave his acceptance.

At the reception, John Cezku was very subdued. He did not want to say anything to the Bishop and cause any offense.

The Bishop went up to Cezku and said:

“John, my friend, I appreciate everything you do and look to our working together for many good things.  What i am about to say, i hope will help you in your life and for five years from now.  You are not quite ready to be community leader.”

Cezku looked at the bishop with a puzzled expression.

“Do you remember the poor man who came to you hungry and tired and asked for a meal and rest so he could go on?” The bishop continued.

“Yes”, Cezku answered’”

“Do you remember what you said to the man and how you treated him?”, the Bishop inquired. The bishop looked at Cezku.

Then Cezku knew all about the poor man and realized the lesson that the kind Bishop had taught to carry with him from this day forward.