(A commentary on Mark 10: 32-45)
The disciples were on the way, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus went ahead of them. They were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. Taking the Twelve aside again, he began to tell them what was going to happen to him. “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and hand him over to the Gentiles who will mock him, spit upon him, scourge him, and put him to death, but after three days he will rise.” Then 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 chalice 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 chalice 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.” (Mark 10:32-45)
What a disappointing scene in today’s Gospel.
Jesus describes for the third time what is going to happen to him in Jerusalem. And what was the response of the disciples?
Was it to commiserate with him? Was it to console him? Quite far from it. Instead, James and John came to Jesus and said, “We want you to do for us whatever we ask of you!” After Jesus asked, “What do you wish me to do for you?” they replied, “Grant that in your glory we may sit one at your right and the other at your left.” Jesus had told them that he was going to die and they were asking for favors!!
We might believe that we would never treat a friend like that, but the reality is that no matter how often we hear about Jesus’ sufferings, crucifixion and death, no matter how frequently we stare at Cross, rather than seek to console the Lord out of love, we, like the apostles, are likewise prone just to divert our attention to what we really love, our own plans, careers, worldly hopes and hungers.
Jesus didn’t die on the cross so that we could concern ourselves with such trivialities. He didn’t pour out his love so that we could be selfish. “It shall not be this way among you,” he tells us today, before describing for us that to be great in his kingdom, we need to drink his chalice of suffering, to be baptized, to be immersed, in his self-giving love, to serve rather than be served, and to give our own life with him as a ransom to liberate others. Jesus doesn’t seek to take away our desire for greatness but to have us choose the path that will lead to eternal greatness, which is precise the humble way of self-giving love that will lead to eternal exaltation.
The very first gift that Jesus gave to us, is the gift of one another. He did this because he knew that if his teaching was to be understood, if his miracles were to have an effect, if his mission was to impact the world, he would need a band of men and women who shared a common identity. He would need disciples who would discover his presence in their relationships with each other.
How unfortunate it is that are many who still associate their faith with a church building, as if bricks and mortar could on their own, lead us to God. How misleading it is for us to think that studying the bible or memorizing the catechism, or devoutly receiving communion or praying a memorized prayer would on their own adequately form our faith.
We need community! Because it is only when our lives touch, when stories are shared, when love is exchanged, that our faith can come alive and the power of Jesus’ presence emerge in our lives.
To live life as he asked means that we must heed the imperishable word of God announced to us today, drink of the chalice and be immersed in Christ, so that we may become the true, sincere, pure and intense servants of each other, giving our life to rescue people from slavery and loving them into eternity.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus, your death brought life and freedom. Make me a servant of your love, that I may seek to serve rather than be served, and share in your victory over sin, suffering, and death.”
A follower of Jesus must be ready to lay down his or her life in martyrdom and be ready to lay it down each and every day in the little and big sacrifices required. An early church father summed up Jesus’ teaching with the expression: to serve is to reign with Christ. We share in God’s reign by laying down our lives in humble service as Jesus did for our sake. Are you willing to lay down your life and to serve others as Jesus did?