Mark 10:35-45 or 10:42-45
Renounce and Enjoy
The title for this reflection comes from Gandhi, a man who lived for others. The belief that a person can be detached from one’s own desires fits both Gandhi and the story from today’s gospel.
James and John come to Jesus and ask, “Grant that in your glory we may sit one at your right and the other at your left.” They are very caught up in their own desire for future glory. Jesus answers their request with a statement and a question. “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?” Jesus knows that his future will include suffering and death. James and John naively answer that they can drink from that cup.
They are not alone in their desires because when the other disciples heard their request they become angry. They are jealous. They, too, want the first places when Jesus comes into his glory. They, too, want power and a place of importance.
Jesus responds with a message that is important for all of us to hear. “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.”
How common it is for you or me to want to succeed or have great results in all we do. We want to be recognized as good people, people who follow Christ and live as good Christians. And yet the reality does not always match our desires or self-beliefs. True service means discerning God’s will for us and then acting upon that call to serve others. Sometimes it will mean drinking from the cup of suffering as we care for a sick person or support someone who is mentally or emotionally ill. It may mean going out of our comfort zone to serve in a soup kitchen or visit the lonely. It may be as simple as being patient and loving toward an irascible friend or family member. Your honest discernment and desire to serve will lead you to a good way to serve and for the right reason. Repeating the responsorial psalm response over and over is a good way to start.
“Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.”
When have you realized that you put yourself first rather than thinking of the needs of others?
How can you follow the example of Jesus and use your call to serve others?
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If ever there was a time, it is now, our elected officials and corporate leaders need to practice servant leadership.