It shall not be so among us
On the way to Jerusalem, Jesus keeps warning his disciples of the painful destiny that awaits him and those who follow his footsteps. The cluelessness of those who accompany him is unbelievable. This continues to happen even today.
James and John, Zebedee’s sons, separate themselves from the rest of the group and approach Jesus with no one else there. They do not need the others. They want to have for themselves the most privileged positions and to be the first in Jesus’ project, as they imagine it. Their petition is not a request, but rather a ridiculous ambition: We want you to do for us whatever we ask you. They want Jesus to place them above the others.
Jesus seems to be surprised. You do not know what you are asking. They have not understood him at all. With great patience Jesus invites them to ask themselves if they are capable of sharing his painful destiny. When the other ten disciples realize what is going on, they get very indignant at James and John. They too have the same aspirations. Ambition divides them and pits them against each other. The search for honor and self-serving leading roles always break the communion of the Christian community. It does so even today. Could there be anything more opposed to Jesus and his project of serving the liberation of peoples?
This occurrence is so serious that Jesus summons them together in order to make clear what attitude should always characterize his followers. They know well enough how the Romans act, these rulers over the Gentiles and the great ones of the world: they tyrannize the people, subdue them and make them all feel the weight of their power. Well, it should not be so among you.
Among his followers, everything must be different: Whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all. Greatness is not measured by the power one has, the rank one holds or the titles one flaunts. Whoever aspires to these things in Jesus’ Church does not become greater, but rather smaller and more ridiculous. In reality, it is a hindrance to fostering the lifestyle that the Crucified wants. Such an ambitious person lacks the basic characteristic to be Jesus’ follower.
In the Church we must all be servants. We need to place ourselves in the Christian community, not from the top, from superiority, power, or self-serving leading role, but from below, from availability, service and assistance to others. Our model is Jesus. He never lived to be served but to serve. This is the best and most admirable summary of what he was: service to all.
October 18, 2015
29 Ordinary Time (B)
Mark 10, 35-43