Ps 33:4-5, 18-20, 22
USCCB Podcast of the Readings:
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Mark.
James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus and said to him,
“Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.”
He replied, “What do you wish me to do for you?”
They answered him, “Grant that in your glory
we may sit one at your right and the other at your left.”
Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking.
Can you drink the cup that I drink
or be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?”
They said to him, “We can.”
Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink, you will drink,
and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized;
but to sit at my right or at my left is not mine to give
but is for those for whom it has been prepared.”
When the ten heard this, they became indignant at James and John.
Jesus summoned them and said to them,
“You know that those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles
lord it over them,
and their great ones make their authority over them felt.
But it shall not be so among you.
Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant;
whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all.
For the Son of Man did not come to be served
but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Good News Reflection: Servanthood, not slavery
To be great in the kingdom of God means to be a servant, says Jesus in this Sunday’s Gospel passage: We are to serve the needs of others for the benefit of the kingdom.
This does not mean that our own needs and desires and dreams don’t matter. Being a servant for God is not slavery; it’s an honor and a blessing, because it unites us to the saving servanthood of Christ.
Being a servant like Christ means that we are treated by the Father the same way Jesus was treated. Our Master will not belittle us, disrespect us, nor over-work us.
The alternative is to be a slave to our worldly passions and possessions and the ways of the world. Worldly enslavement does belittle us. It reduces us to less than what God created us to be.
The ways of Christ empower us to be like Christ himself: free to enjoy all of the benefits of the kingdom of God, free to live a holy life, and therefore, free to be great in the eyes of our Father.
In this freedom, there is great joy. Although the ways of Christ are not easy and sometimes lead to the Cross, this cup of suffering increases our holiness and makes us even greater in heaven. When we make sacrifices for the benefit of others and we understand that our sufferings are part of our growth in holiness, they become much more bearable, because what had seemed like a curse is redeemed into a very significant blessing.
Do you know anyone whose prayers have not been answered? It’s not because God doesn’t care, nor because he can’t help them. He answers the prayers of others through our servanthood. Jesus serves others through us.
Our top priority must always be our own relationship with God, so that we receive an abundance of whatever he wants us to share with others in service to their needs. We cannot give what we don’t have. We cannot serve others well — we cannot be the presence of Christ for them — unless we ourselves have first been served by Jesus.
Questions for Personal Reflection:
What has God blessed you with abundantly? What insights, gifts, talents, wisdom, etc., do you have? How are these indications that Jesus has served you?
Questions for Community Faith Sharing:
How has Jesus been a servant to you? Share how you have passed this service onto someone else (or would like to). For example, how has he served you with his unconditional, forgiving love? Or how has he served you by meeting an unmet need? In turn, how has this helped you to be a loving servant for others?
Thank You, Lord, because You designed Your Church as a great body where we all need each other and where You are the source of this grace. Amen.
© 2018 by Terry A. Modica