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29th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Price of Privilege


“Jesus summoned the Twelve 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’” (Mark 10:42-25).

Sometimes it’s easy to become so focused on a goal or so engrossed in day-to-day activities that our actions begin to take an unhealthy turn. Perhaps a little part of us feels that we’ve “worked so hard” or “given up so much” that we deserve perks, recognition, and rewards.

James and John got caught up in exactly this trap in the incident described in this week’s Gospel reading. They approached Jesus and tried to improve their privileges by asking for a greater position for themselves, for the distinction of sitting at the left and right hand of Jesus at the end of time.

Using this example of James and John, Mark continues to show us the gap between the disciples’ understanding of discipleship and the actual demands of discipleship. The brothers do not understand that Jesus’ “glory” is not what they think it is. We have the luxury of knowing the rest of the story. James and John did not realize that they were asking for death.

With discipleship and leadership come tremendous responsibility to do what is right. While this may challenge us, and sometimes even discourage us, Mark emphasizes that Jesus continuously gave this message as he journeyed with the disciples. Each time they “strayed,” Jesus was there to show them the true way.

In what situations have you wondered “What’s in it for me?”? What motivated you to think this way, and what did you learn from such situations?

Adapted from Word on the Go, a downloadable resource from RENEW International.

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