Gospel Reflection Oct 17 – Deacon Don
Sunday, October 17
Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Mark 10: 35-40
James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus and said to him,
“Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.”
He replied, “What do you wish me to do for you?”
They answered him, “Grant that in your glory
we may sit one at your right and the other at your left.”
Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking.
Can you drink the cup that I drink
or be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?”
They said to him, “We can.”
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;
but to sit at my right or at my left is not mine to give
but is for those for whom it has been prepared.”
When the ten heard this, they became indignant at James and John.
Jesus summoned them and said to them,
“You know that those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles
lord it over them,
and their great ones make their authority over them felt.
But it shall not be so among you.
Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant;
whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all.
For the Son of Man did not come to be served
but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Our apostles clearly lack understanding of what Our Lord is asking them. Understandably, when the other ten disciples heard about this exchange, they were angry because they felt left out from assuming the high places on the right and the left apparently offered to James and John. Jealousy happens even among the disciples and clouds their ability to listen and focus on Jesus’ message. Once again, Jesus makes it clear that we are to serve — not be served. This message is repeated throughout the Gospels. We are to assume the lowest place, not the highest.
While we think we cannot be effective by acting from the lowest place, we should consider the great impact and power that Mother Teresa was able to accomplish from her low position. Mother Teresa remains a wonderful example of a missionary bringing the Gospel message of service to the very poorest. This petite Albanian woman working with the poorest of the poor in Calcutta could bring the joy of the Gospel message to those around her, but her work impacted others from way beyond her immediate reach. Like James and John and the other disciples, like Mother Teresa and many others, we are all called to be missionaries. We can do this from the comfort of our own homes and communities. While it may not seem special to us, not spectacular enough to be worthy of our efforts, our family, friends, and neighbors are all in need of this kind of quiet and simple Gospel message of joy. To be good missionaries we have to hear Jesus’ words about where real greatness lies. It is a message that is not always easy to hear in a society like ours. We should be prepared to be distrusted, and even met with rejection.
Our Real Presence Real Future initiative in the diocese asks each of us to become Missionary Disciples. While we may not know what this means or how to proceed with such a broadly designed initiative, we can begin by sharing our witness to the Gospels through our own example of how we have internalized the Gospel message of hope by sharing that hope with others. This does not suggest standing on a corner and preaching the Gospels to others, but it does require that we share and witness that hope to others in our routine daily interactions — with caring, understanding, and sincere optimism for the good of others.
Deacon Don Poirier