‘From Captain to Commissioner’ the headline rang, as the potential appointment of former Army Captain Gary Griffith to the post of Commissioner of Police loomed closer. Today, after six and a half years of having an acting Police Commissioner, the country could say with some finality that that era has come to an end.
That it took six and a half years and spanned two successive political administrations is indicative not only of a deeply flawed system, but also symbolises the crisis of leadership so evident in all sectors of our country today.
It is into this context that Commissioner Griffith now finds himself, torn between a political directorate which includes both former colleagues and former adversaries, a police service from whom he requires unwavering support but whose spokespersons indicate otherwise, and an unrelenting public, yearning for relief from the nightmare of unsafe communities, random personal attacks and the general pall of barbarism which threatens to overshadow us all.
There is little surprise then that Commissioner Griffith is coming into office on a wave of popularity. He has said enough of what people want to hear and stood up, at great personal sacrifice, against his own in defense of country. He has spoken truth to power.
The Gospel passage today exposes too the fickleness of the people who had just witnessed the miracle of Jesus’ feeding of the five thousand. They sought out Jesus, not because of His teaching, but only because of their desire for more food. Jesus however, used their desire to eat to raise their need to an infinitely higher level, telling them to seek instead food that never perishes, offering Himself as the bread of eternal life.
What is the bread that Commissioner Griffith must ask those he must now lead to seek after? Is it honesty and integrity in the pursuit of their duties? Is it equality of treatment for all who run afoul of the law, regardless of race, ethnicity or the accidents of geography which cause us to be born in different communities?
What is the bread that Captain Commissioner must ask of parents and guardians who religiously occupy the spaces in our churches, mosques and mandirs, but whose sons and daughters occupy spaces either on the street corners or in the nation’s prisons?
What is the bread that Commissioner Griffith must challenge the captains of industry and those who hold the reins of labour to seek after? Is it a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work? Is it a refusal to participate in bribery and other illicit activity?
And what is the bread we, the people, must ask Commissioner Griffith himself to seek after? It is only this Captain: “To act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”
There is a grave responsibility that rests on all Catholics, and that is to seek after bread that will last, and to share that bread with the hungry. When he assumes office, Commissioner Griffith will need all the prayers and support he can get. As a fellow partaker of the Body of Christ, he deserves no less from us.