Sirach 36:1, 4-5, 10-17
Today’s gospel reading from Mark includes an argument regarding who will be "first" among the disciples of Jesus. James and John make their argument that they should be first before the other disciples. The remaining disciples react the way we all might react, stating their displeasure with James and John. Jesus then responds, "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."
Jesus did not say whoever wishes to be great among you will be "somewhere in the middle" and the slave of "some" as long as you are in your comfort zone. Jesus did say those disciples who wanted to be great and sit at his right and left hand would have to be the servants of everyone. This all-inclusive message of servant leadership probably upset the apple carts of Jesus’ disciples! The message of servant leadership to all clearly was not the expected requirement for greatness among the disciples.
I doubt whether this message to "go to the end of the line and serve all" corresponds to our own ambitions. Although I might want to serve all at the end of the line I usually end up "somewhere in the middle" where I am still in my own comfort zone. In other words, I pick and choose who, when and where I want to serve. I make my choices based on my own comfort rather than on the stirrings of the Spirit of God in my heart!
My prayer today for all of us is that we truly examine our criteria for determining who, how and when we will serve. I pray for our courage as we strive to live our Passionist calling to share the all-inclusive message of God’s love for all with all as Jesus did in his Passion and Death!
Terry McDevitt, Ph.D. is a member of our Passionist Family who volunteers at the Passionist Assisted Living Community in Louisville, Kentucky.