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.” And he said to them, “What is it you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They replied, “We are able.”
Then 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 hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”
When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John.So Jesus called them and said to them, “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all.
For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translation
Our gospel today was the scripture passage that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., used as the text for the last sermon he gave before his assassination. He entitled it “The Drum Major Instinct.” He pointed out that all of us have a drive toward attention, toward being first, toward being important. That drive can be distorted and perverted. We feel anger and resentment when we think others are getting “uppity.” The other disciples reacted that way once they found out what James and John were up to. But Dr. King points out that Jesus does not condemn them. Instead he redefines what it means to be great. He encourages them to be first in love, in moral excellence, in generosity, in service. Everyone can be great because everyone can serve.
—Fr. Joe Folzenlogen, S.J. is a pastoral minister in Cincinnati, OH, where he has long contributed to care for the poor and those in need.
Jesus, help us to let our lives be shaped by the image of the servant in the beautiful poetry of Isaiah, by the powerful example of the compassionate high priest who understands our human weakness from the inside, and by your teaching about true greatness. Help us to become true servant leaders. Amen
—Fr. Joe Folzenlogen, S.J.Please share the Good Word with your friends!