29th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Isaiah 53:
10-11; Hebrews 4: 14-16;
Mark 10: 35-45

Jesus, Can I Be The Right-Hand Servant, And My Brother The Left-Hand Servant?!”  – Mark 10:35-45† | "Dan's Blunders & Wonders of Thought!"

Intro:  for many, greatness is measured in terms of the three “p’s”… power, possessions and pleasure. Today’s Gospel helps us understand that true greatness is about serving others,  especially when it’s at a cost to ourselves. Jesus offered  us  the  ultimate example by giving up His own life to save us all.

Readings: Isaiah sees how Jesus the Messiah, the Suffering Ser­vant of Yahweh, will take our faults upon Himself and will atone for His people’s sins through His death and resurrection.

The author of Hebrews presents Jesus as the High Priest Who knows how difficult it can  be to overcome our  weaknesses, and so we can be confident of His mercy.

You would  have thought that by this point in their lives, the apostles would have picked up on the fact that their Master’s likely future wasn’t likely to be one of glory, but rather of suffering and death.  Not  a  bit of  it.  In  the Gospel, we hear James and  John  jockeying  for  pole position in the power stakes. They’ve missed the mark, thinking that Jesus is about to introduce Himself as the promised  Messiah and restore the kingdom of Israel.  So they want status … promotion … to be there at His side, sharing His triumph, taking places of honour and being admired. They want the bonus without the onus! Jesus is forced  to  tell them bluntly that the only thing they’re likely to share with Him is His  suffering  –  drinking  from  the same bitter cup as Him. While the other apostles are muttering away about the audacity of the pair, Jesus insists that the way of  the  pagans –  lording it over others –  must not be their way. Instead, their lives are  to be lives of service, like His, serving rather  than  being  served  – “anyone who wants to be great among you must be your servant.” He tells them  that,  sure,  they’re  certainly welcome to share in  both  His  suffering and  His  glory … but it won’t be in this world.

What about ourselves: what motivates us?   As disciples of Jesus, are we moved to give of ourselves, so that others may have a  better life?  Do we feel a  human connection with people whose lives are in crisis for whatever reason? How do we feel about refugees, or asylum seekers?

If we are to follow the Master along the road to Jerusalem, then our eyes need to be focused on what we can do for others rather than a seat at the top table.
Servant leadership involves a commitment to  the welfare of others, going the extra  mile, taking  time to get to know what people like  and  need,  listening  to  their tales of  woe, their hopes and  their fears, coming along­ side them  to  help them  in  their tasks, waiting  patiently for them to get the hang  of  something  (homework!), caring for  them  when  they’re depressed, supporting them in a trauma. Even then, it’s sometimes necessary to step back and ask ourselves about our motive for doing some ostensibly charitable deed – is  it to earn us brownie points or is there an ulterior motive? The  desire  to  sit  at  the right hand of the Master dies hard.  Like James and John, we sometimes fail to want the right thing and so the Lord teaches us too, bringing us round to His way of thinking, despite ourselves.  Through  the  Sacraments,  we’re renewed  in mind and  heart and, as  we pray, we’re helped to love the things of Heaven, and judge more wisely the things of earth.  It’s good  to  remember  that  we’re  called to be faithful more than we’re  called  to be  successful! So, today, let’s renew our commitment  to follow Jesus in the way of humble service to those who need our help, trusting that He will help us to overcome our selfish tendencies to put ourselves in the first place

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