The truth is more than two millennia ago there were times when the Apostles’ loyalty to Jesus was motivated by self-interest. Today’s Gospel story gives us a clear example of this type of misguided, “What’s in it for me?” attitude.
James and John approach Jesus in just such a frame of mind. “Master,” they ask, “we want you to do us a favor … Allow us to sit, one at your right hand and the other at your left in your glory” (Mk.l0:35,37). The “hand of God” was a symbol of the highest power and glory, and here are James and John trying to exact a promise for a share in God’s power and glory greater than anyone else’s. In so doing, they irreverently reduce Jesus’ promise of the Coming Kingdom to the level of a political spoils system. In return for loyalty to their Leader, James and John demand the top spots in the Kingdom. No doubt they are dismayed and disenchanted, momentarily at least, when Jesus tells them to forget it — that He just can’t comply. “The cup that I must drink of you shall drink, and the baptism with which I must be baptized you shall be baptized,” He says. “But as for seats at My right hand or my left, these are not Mine to grant” (Mk.10:39,40). Then Jesus adds, “Anyone who wants to become great among you must be your servant, and anyone who wants to be first among you must be slave to all” (Mk. 10:43).
We share in the cup from which Jesus drinks to the extent that we simultaneously share it with others. To experience the healing, cleansing power of the waters in which Jesus is immersed, we must enter hand-in-hand with others. In the Epistle to the Hebrews we read, “Let us be confident, then, in approaching the throne of grace, that we shall have mercy from him and find grace when we are in need of help” (Heb.4:16). But, as Jesus informs the Apostles in today’s Gospel, we cannot do so in isolation. We approach the “throne of Grace” hand-in-hand-in the spirit of the “Son of Man” who “did not come to be served but to serve” (Mk.10:45).
There would come a time for the Apostles when notions of being in competition with one another for special rewards and privileges were unthinkable. The day would come when Peter would address the crowds in these words: “I have now come to realize that God does not have favorites” (Acts 10:34). How true it is! God does not play favorites. He commissioned His Divine Son in the service of all mankind. “The Son of Man has come not to be served but to serve.” So it is with every loyal supporter of the Lord Jesus. We are not strangers to the temptations of the Apostles James and John. There are times when the lure of self-glorification seems irresistible. There are times when we approach Jesus in a “What’s in it for me?” frame of mind. And Jesus answers, as He answered James and John. “From the cup I drink you shall drink… Anyone among you who aspires to greatness must serve the rest.”
There is our invitation to true greatness! There is a mighty work to be done! Though the reward of true greatness exacts a mighty price, it is a price within our means to pay.
Jesus knows what we can afford. Again in the Epistle to the Hebrews we are reminded that Jesus understands our weakness because He “was tempted in every way that we are” (Heb.4:15). Jesus knows the temptation we feel to pass up the cup. “My Father,” He prayed, “if it is possible, let this cup pass Me by” (Mt.26:39). But the cup did not pass Jesus by. He paid the price. He gave His life in loving service to us all.
The late psychiatrist Dr. Karl Menninger wrote that his father, Dr. Will Menninger, listed a number of attributes as criteria for emotional maturity. One of the most important of these was to find more satisfaction in giving than receiving.
Yet he believed the true value of giving is expressed in a Nigerian proverb which he first became aware of through the Peace Corps — and it was Karl Menninger’s favorite:
It reads, “When the right hand washes the left hand, the right hand becomes clean also.”
Peace and Blessings!
LITURGICAL MUSIC CORNER
by our Music Director, Rebecca Brown
10-18-15 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Gathering Song: Glory in the Cross # 724 (Holy Thursday verses)
Gloria: sung! New Mass of John Carroll
Psalm 33: Let your mercy be on us, O God, as we place our trust in you. (Haugen)
Gospel Acclamation: Celtic (G)
Intercessions: O God hear us, hear our prayer.
Preparation of Gifts: Servant Song # 376 (E)
Holy: Mass of Creation (Gm)
Acclamation: When we eat this bread (Gm) # 882 (Mass of Creation)
Amen: W/S # 259 (F) Bolduc
L/G: Mass of Renewal: Dm/Em
Communion: So Beautiful (ss) / (Love Goes On # 491, if time)