B Cycle – 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time 21
Mk. 10:35 – 45
Wouldn’t it be great if everyone in our parish and every Christian believer had an attitude of servanthood? Perhaps divisions between conservative and liberal would be less combative. Perhaps we would be less competitive with our neighboring parishes. Perhaps we would worry less about our destiny after death. Perhaps we would be better witnesses to those who say Christians are hypocrites. But being a servant is less attractive than being the one in charge or the one whom the Pastor relies upon.
Servants, as we know them, are silent but they are always at the beck and call of the one whom they serve. The concept of servanthood as Christ intends is following the will of the One who sends us. At the same time there is some freedom, but it is not a freedom that allows us to be praised or bask in glory. In fact, there is an attitude of humility in the servants Christ desires us to become. We must always be serving while “…walking humbly with your God” (Mic.6:8}. Walking humbly with God might be easier than considering all others as superior to ourselves as Paul tells us. It is not that anyone who believes is inferior to another, but the attitude is one where we understand the call of Christ to follow him is not so we can be exalted.
James and John were asking Jesus for something that is not available to anyone in the Kingdom of God. We do not know exactly what heaven will be like, but we have some clues in the scriptures. We do know we will enjoy intimacy with God because that was the intention of God as He created Adam and Eve. Yet for some reason we act as if our service earns us a place of honor in our parish, just as James and John wanted on either side of Jesus in paradise. Why would James and John request to be seated on his right and his left. Did they not see Moses and Elijah with Jesus as he was transfigured? Yet, they want to be seated on his right and left.
We fail to understand the call to be servants is a call to all of us. We fail to grasp the dignity and glory we will share with Christ and fail to understand there is hierarchy of status in heaven. If we are seeking to be praised or recognized simply because we use the gifts God gave us to serve the community of believers is part of the call to discipleship. I am not unaware of the fact we do have members of the body who feel as if they are indispensable. Unfortunately, they haver by seeking recognition have made impossible for others to serve. Their willingness to serve is misguided without them realizing it and it causes the same indignant response from others as James and John discovered.
But if we can ever allow the Holy Spirit to transform our hearts, we would understand how each of us are gifted with something for the good of the community. We need more gifts to be used and more encouragement by those already using their gifts. If we all had servants’ hearts, we would see a dramatic change in the life of the community. Ministries would grow, hearts would be set on fire, and others would open themselves up to feel the embrace of the Father. We would realize it is in supporting each ministry and not by promoting our own that the community would bask in the glory of God. The gospels and epistles are full of God’s desire for us to recognize the call to be servants not lords and masters of others.
How do we stop the infighting, the jealousies, the jockeying around for superior status and the desire to be right and left hand of the pastor? Let’s begin with ourselves, by spending time in prayer seeking to understand the way God has gifted us and that of our parish. Let us in prayer seek to find ways to support the vision or the goals of our parish. Let us ask God to grace us with the gift of humility to be willing to serve even if we are never acknowledged by anyone. Let us begin by encouraging those who do serve to encourage others to join them and to step aside allowing new people to serve.
We need to understand God calls us to discipleship which means we must die to self and become the slave of all. We must find ways to emphasizes how Christ calls everyone to become involved in active participation within the Kingdom of God and every person is called to respond to the invitation. This means we must be willing to encourage others to step forward and serve alongside us as brothers and sisters.