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Gospel reflection

October 21, 2018: Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading: Mark 10:35-45

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.”


The apostles sometimes make me laugh out loud when I read Scripture. What a bunch of bumbling fools they were at times! The audacity of James and John to approach Jesus with the words “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you”. Who asks Jesus a question like this? I do — all the time. Sometimes my prayer life looks more like a “honey do” list than a time of gratitude and praise and thanksgiving for all of the blessings in my life.

Servant leadership is all the rage these days in the business world and in education. I have thought about combining the words to just “servant-ship”. I have a sense that the leadership part often gets way more attention than the servant part and that seems to be a problem and an imbalance. Jesus’ message to us is about living life in service and about giving our own lives away so that others might live.


Find a copy of “The Servant Song” by Richard Gillard on YouTube and listen, or find the lyrics with a quick Google search and read them. What is Jesus asking of you?

Will you let me be your servant, Let me be as Christ to you: Pray that I may have the grace to let you be my servant, too.I will hold the Christ light for you in the nighttime of your fear; I will hold my hand out to you, Speak the peace you long to hear.….”

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Alice Shelton

Providence Associate Alice Shelton lives in Indianapolis with her husband John. She is a graduate of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College and enjoys her work as director of business services at Marian University.

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