Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Mk 10:35-45 or 10:42-45
October 17, 2021
Just for the sake of discussion, imagine for a moment that the conversation went this way:
JOHN and JAMES: Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.
(They framed their request like spoiled children, and in such a way that they must have known that they were WAY out of line.)
JESUS: Sure! What can I do for you?
JOHN and JAMES: Grant that, in your glory, we may sit one at your right hand and the other at your left.
(Clearly, they didn’t have a very mature sense of what THE GLORIFIED CHRIST would be like.)
JESUS: Sure! The seats are yours.
EXIT JESUS STAGE LEFT.
Now, just for the sake of discussion, imagine what happened next.
(In loud voices…shouting out, all at the same time)
THE TEN: That’s not fair! I do more than they do! I was here first! Why do they always get the good stuff? Where is Mary going to sit?
Of course, when the other 10 heard the brothers’ brazen request, they would have become “indignant with James and John.” But wouldn’t you think that there might also have been a resentful outcry against Jesus?
After all, how often are parents, teachers, coaches, supervisors…etc., etc…accused of “playing favorites”?
And as “the ten” are airing their grievances, would it surprise you to see James and John standing off to the side in a heated discussion? Something like this:
JOHN: I call the right side!
JAMES: No way! You got to sit on the right side at the wedding in Cana.
Silly as it might sound, this “rewrite” of the Gospel is not at all far-fetched. We see this kind of immaturity, shameless ambition, selfishness, envy, and resentment played out all the time.
A far more challenging script to write would be the conversation among all 12 characters after Jesus made the connection between the First Reading and His Glory. Isaiah pulls no punches.
The road to the GLORY that James and John were so eager to know passes through infirmity, affliction, and suffering, even to the point of laying down one’s own life. It takes both spiritual maturity as well as courage to set out on that path. Still, that is the direction towards which we are pointed through Baptism.
True discipleship demands humble service, and self-sacrifice, even to the point of laying down one’s life in the service of God.
It seems fairly simple.
For those ambitious to experience “The Glory” in the Kingdom, the proper request is this:
Lord, grant me the opportunity for humble service.
Fortunately, through His time in this world, Jesus knows first-hand the challenge of denying one’s own ambitions in order to engage in humble service is not an easy task.
So, it might be wise, when asking for the “opportunity” to serve, to request also the maturity and courage, as well as the faith and commitment, to take full advantage of the “countless opportunities” placed in our path each and every day.