Mission Society of the Philippines

Homilies

29th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME: TO BECOME GREAT IS TO SERVE

Mk 10: 35-45


THE ASPIRATION FOR position, power, and rank can be true to every society. In the modern times, people who campaign for national or local elections are a proof for this drive for power. During the time of Jesus, this aspiration for power, position, and rank had been noticeable among Gentile leaders.

However, in the gospel passage this Sunday, we have noticed that this aspiration for position could also be found in some to the disciples of Jesus. The brothers James and John request for a favored treatment from Jesus. They tell Jesus, “Grant that in your glory, we may sit one at your right and the other at your left.” When the other disciples learned this, they became indignant at James and John.

Jesus used this occasion to correct the thinking of his disciples. Indeed, the disciples have overlooked the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Here, Jesus told them that the greatness in his kingdom cannot be measured by worldly standards. A new standard has been set instead. What is it?

Firstly, Jesus instructed his disciples that, in contrast to Gentile rulers, they should not make their authority over the people felt. In the mind of Jesus, authority is not something that puts you above others. Authority is not about position.

However, we can see some political leaders whose concern is their authority. In doing so, their presence can be threatening. A good leader is someone who can command, but at the same time, has the heart for his constituents. He remains humanly close to them. He should not appear threatening because this would destroy the relationship. This is also true to parents-children relationship. If parents are overly strict to children, without being affectionate, children would either live in fear or rebel against them.

Secondly, Jesus finds that the key to greatness is service. He says, “whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant.” This teaching is something new. Why? Most leaders have been accustomed to being served. If someone or if people serve them, then they would feel how great they are. However, for Jesus, greatness in his kingdom should not be seen that way. In fact, it is the opposite. Leadership and authority are meant for service. The leaders who truly serve, are great in God’s kingdom.

There is a wisdom in Jesus’ words. Because in reality, people would remember more, as well as appreciate more, leaders who reach out their hands to the needy, than leaders who simply spend most of their time sitting on their chairs. People appreciate leaders who serve.

Thirdly, our model for service is none other than Jesus himself.  He concludes the gospel passage with these words, “For the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many”. The whole public ministry of Jesus can be described in one word: that is, service. He preached in the synagogues, He fed the hungry, He cured those who are afflicted with various illnesses, etc. These are marks or acts of service. Service is defined as “love-in-action”. Jesus was moved with love, pity, and compassion for these people. Consequently, He has served them. AMEN.


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