October 17, 2021: Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Gospel – Mark 10:35-45 or 10:42-45
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 for 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.”
In today’s gospel, Jesus’ questioners are his own disciples, James and John. They received what must have been a surprise response from their Teacher. Jesus often answers questions with a question of his own.
“Are you willing to follow my example and experience what I experience?” Jesus asks. After James and John answer, “Yes,” and the other apostles take offense, Jesus begins a beautiful lesson on what discipleship is all about. If they are truly ready to follow him, then they must let go of their ideas of privilege in order to be servants to all.
They need to be ready to give their lives for this Kingdom. Probably not the answer James and John were hoping for! In this passage, Jesus is continuing to share his radical message of what the Kingdom of God is all about – servanthood, and all that being a servant entails.
We might consider this week the things we ask for in prayer – do they help us encourage the coming of the Kingdom? We might also consider how we are living our servant role within the Church and in our world.