Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Wednesday of the Eighth week of Ordinary Time

"... whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant;
whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all."

Today's gospel event occurred so many years ago.  Yet, even today, it seems that some things never change.  How many times have you witnessed a James and John situation that Mark relates in this section of his gospel?  How many times have you found yourself consciously or subconsciously falling into the same trap:  wanting to be recognized in such a way that it brings about power.

James and John were bitten by the power or influence bug.  No doubt most of the disciples considered themselves somewhat important because they were the inner circle!  As in the world today, those who form the "inner circle" for a person in authority or power realize they possess a definite position of power.  They can exercise a modicum of the power their leader or friend possesses because of his or her position.  It all begins in the early years of grammar school:  remember the "teacher's pet"?  As we grow older the challenge doesn't fade:  it multiplies.

Jesus uses this experience with his disciples, just as he did with the rich young man, to teach the apostles and all who seek to follow Jesus that discipleship is not easy.  He teaches that greatness - sitting next to the person of importance - is not like that in his Father's kingdom.  Throughout the ages greatness was and seems to be the same today:  having power over others, to use people as servants or slaves.

In the Kingdom of God greatness is simply putting oneself at the service of others, using one's talents and skills for the welfare of our brothers and sisters.  What Jesus was and is teaching us through the wisdom of the Holy Spirit given to each of us is that greatness is measured by the number of people we serve.