Reading the Gospel the past few days reminds me of when I would go visit my kids at school for lunch. the teacher would have them line up and they would all clamor to be the line leader. Each one thinking they should be first. The list of reason or excuses was exhaustive. Mary was leader yesterday. I never get to be the leader. As the barrage of voices continue to call out, the teacher in a calm voice would look around and pick someone who was not begging or jumping up and down yelling, “Me, Me!” but rather the quiet one who was patiently waiting to go to lunch. Much respect was gained for that teacher that day. Yesterday, it was Peter who was quick to point out that they had given up everything and should receive the approval of the Master. Today’s Gospel passage starts:
The disciples were on the way, going up to Jerusalem,
and Jesus went ahead of them. Mark 10:32
Here again we find them walking together as a group. Along the was James and John, the sons of Zebedee come up to Jesus.
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?” Mark 10:35-38
Just like those little Kindergarten kids, James and John want to be the line leaders. I probably would have given them a stern talking to but Jesus like that teacher many years ago takes this as a teaching opportunity..
“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 10:42-45
Jesus challenged them to a new and better way of living, a way that would lead them to the Kingdom of God. We live in a world today that continually tells us to be in charge and to take the lead. We need to to this through servant leadership modeled after the life of Jesus who gave his life for those he led. Personally, I am still a work in progress. Sometimes, I find service easy and rewarding, then in the next moment I an having my kindergarten moment. I want to be the line leader. I want to be recognized. I want to be the best. this is where Jesus meets us, though, like a loving teacher who patiently and lovingly speaks to our hearts to form us and breathe into us his very nature so that we can go on with a servant’s heart. A heart that can be truly happy when someone else succeeds and gets to be line leader. The heart of a servant that can be truly happy for others and grateful for what they have received.