October 18, 2009: 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jesus called them (the apostles) to him and said to them, “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it shall not be so among you; whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:42-45)
When James and John asked Jesus the favor of sitting at his right and at his left in his glory, the rest of the apostles were indignant at the two brothers, the Gospel tells us. Perhaps they were upset that they might not have the same opportunity.
The apostles were slow to understand that Jesus was not here to establish an earthly kingdom or to experience the special treatment of earthly rulers. Quite the contrary!
He came to serve; and he made it clear that his disciples were, and are, called to do the same. We know that almost all the apostles died as martyrs. By then they knew the meaning of service and the selflessness required of those who follow Jesus.
Hopefully you will not have to die because you’re a disciple of Jesus. But, you and every Christian are called to serve in Jesus’ name. The next time you are tempted to “lord it over” another person, recall Jesus’ invitation to be a servant to all.