Year B, The Twenty-Ninth Sunday Ordinary

But to Serve and Give

October 22, 2000


Ronald D. Curley

TEXT: The Holy Gospel According to Saint Mark 10: 35-45

There is the spirit of the world. There is the Spirit of God.

Often, even holy of men and women of God, who are becoming holy in Jesus through the sanctifying grace of God, become subject to methods and desires that are not wholly consistent with the perfect plan and purposes of God.

These "sons of thunder" were no different that many Christians who walk the earth today looking for a security and a closeness to Jesus by a means not so close to the Spirit of Christ -- the Spirit of serving and giving.

35 And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him, and said to him, "Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you."

36 And he said to them, "What do you want me to do for you?"

37 And they said to him, "Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory."

This request is not necessarily a bad one. It is honorable in that it does not ask for the world or the world's values. It asks that these two might sit on the right and the left hand of Jesus when his glory comes. We know that Jesus will return in glory beloved.

Yet, there is something about this request that is missing it seems.

It is like a bell that is out of tune and has the sound of a "clank" which draws attention to what is being said here. It "rings" differently than a well tuned bell in concert with the other bells.

St. Mark picks up on this discordant event.

In fact there is a conjunction of contrast here as Jesus now speaks -- "BUT Jesus said unto them...",

38 But Jesus said to them, "You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?"

Beloved, the real issue in following Jesus is not the glory that will come. It is not the fact that we will ultimately be free from the pain and the miseries of life and bathed in the glories of Jesus our Creator and Savior and LORD!

The real issue for us is in the practical meaning of following Jesus in the here and the now.

To follow Jesus now means nothing short of our own death.

To follow Jesus now means to fully surrender to God and take up our crosses and follow Jesus to Mount Calvary.

The real issue is to lay aside our own desires and ambitions and make the Passion of Jesus our desire - loving God with all of our being.

James and John said --

39 And they said to him, "We are able." And Jesus said to them, "The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized;

Yes, indeed, they would partake of that Bread and Wine in that Way they were following.

Their "baptism" - their "identification with" Christ would be a full immersion into the Passion of Jesus. Thus, there would be no crown for them, as well as for us, until there is an acceptance of the Cross.

Yes, Jesus says to us as well - "You will be baptized."

Perhaps, this is the "baptism of fire" spoken of so often?

Do we not long for this total purification that we understand we must have?

Do we not desire this washing away completely of all of the selfishness that comes between our God and us?

How do we love our God?

Is our love for God incomplete?

It is God who gives to us according to the surrender and Christ likeness we receive here in following Jesus, crosses upon out shoulders.

Rewards are prepared "for those for whom it has been prepared."

If we observe God's answer further in the Revelation (chapter 12) we see one for whom honor was prepared as to one who was and is -- "...for whom it has been prepared."

Mary, our Mother was honored because she sought the perfect will of God in all things. Thus, we are called with her to perfectly seek Jesus in all things.

40 but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared."

41 And when the ten heard it, they began to be indignant at James and John.

How clearly this reaction from the other disciples is so realistic. Notice it was the other "ten" who were reacting over this matter. The Blessed Virgin is never mentioned in this matter of reacting over the request of James and John and their mother.

Think of this.

It seems that this indignity was focused upon what the "ten" had heard of in the meaning of this request of James and John.

So, Jesus teaches us ever so plainly.

42 And Jesus called them to him and said to them, "You know that those who are supposed to rule over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them.

43 But it shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant,

44 and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all.

The Church is not established to beat the sheep to death.

The Church hierarchy is present in the clergy to shepherd the flock of God. Pastors are to pastor their sheep and bring their sheep to Jesus, the Chief Shepherd of the sheep.

Who is the Example?

It is defined by one more conjunction that contrasts the difference between the ways and mankind and the Way of God in Christ Jesus --

45 For the Son of man also came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

I sense so much lately the inadequacy of our abilities to understand this great Truth in Jesus, who is the Truth. Our brain cells are insufficient to comprehend the depth of the meaning of Jesus.



Here is the Creator who spoke all into existence in a perfect plan. Here is God become Man. Here is the Perfect Servant - serving and giving all for you and me.

He saw us from afar and made himself low that we might come to him in all of our sinfulness and shame - thus, he gave and served us while we were yet sinners.

Such humility so demonstrated should make us more ashamed to avoid humility ourselves than being afraid of what others may say about us.

Thus, our response is evident.

The purpose of this story is not to embarrass us as it is to give us the example of the Humility we ought to follow, of the God brought low who dwelled in our midst and showed us the Way to God - to serve and to give.

May we respond to his serving and giving by giving ourselves back to God and serving him as sons and daughters who love him humbly like Mary our Mother.

Deus et Sanctissima.

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