October 21, 2018
Sunday, October 21
Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Mark 10: 35-45
James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus and said to him,
“Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.”
He replied, “What do you wish me to do for you?”
They answered him, “Grant that in your glory
we may sit one at your right and the other at your left.”
Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking.
Can you drink the cup that I drink
or be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?”
They said to him, “We can.”
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 or at my left is not mine to give
but is for those for whom it has been prepared.”
When the ten heard this, they became indignant at James and John.
Jesus summoned them 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.”
So often, we can find some deeper truths in stories that even a child can understand its lesson and can begin to apply it into their young lives. The “Little Red Hen” – a nineteenth century folk tale is just one of those stories. The story teaches children the virtues of work ethic and taking personal responsibility. A lesson that James and John seem to miss in today’s Gospel. In the tale, the little red hen finds a grain of wheat and asks for help from the other farmyard animals such as a pig, cat, rat, duck, goose, dog, and goat to help plant it, but they all refuse. At each later phase of the farming process, such as the harvest, threshing, milling the wheat into flour, and baking the flour into bread, the other animals continue to refuse to assist the little red hen. Finally, the hen has completed all the work on her own and asks who will help her eat the bread. This time, all the farmyard animals eagerly line up for the feast even though they did not assist in its long preparation process. The little red hen then announces that since they did not help with the work, they have not earned a place at the table leaving the farmyard animals outside the feast.
Today we see two brothers, who belong to the innermost circle of Jesus’ disciples, trying to curry their own favor with Jesus by suggesting their own position with him in the afterlife. It is clear they had little comprehension of that Jesus would triumph only by emptying himself to the lowest human level before entering into his kingdom. So often, we can see and seek only enjoying the benefits of this life and the next before recognizing the task and its journey as one of hard work and subjugation to the service of others. Leadership in the service of others consists not in what we have, or in what we can get from others, but in what we can give of ourselves to others.
Like James and John and the other disciples, we are all called to be missionaries in our daily lives with our own families, in our own homes, and in our own workplaces. We must be ready to do the work to promote the Gospels as shown us by Jesus and the Father and then bear the burdens asked of us before presuming, like the farmyard animals, a place at the table and the feast.
Deacon Don Poirier