29th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B - 17/10/2021 - Gospel: Mk 10, 42-45
True Greatness
The apostles of Jesus had followed Him for some time. He taught them the radical, new way of life, which was quite opposite to the way of the world. The way of the world, its frame of reference, way of thinking and behaving, was very much the logic of the mind. This way was imbedded in the minds of the apostles. Jesus showed them the new way of life. It was not the way of one's mind, but rather the way of one's heart. God's way was the way of God's heart; its 'new frame of reference' based not on materials, but on love- loving God and neighbour- The apostles embraced this new teaching, but struggled to put it into practice. They needed time to change, to adapt to the new way of life. They tried to follow God's way; but the way of the world resurfaced from time to time. Once at Capernaum, they argued about who would be the greatest amongst them. Jesus told them, God's way was humble service,

'If anyone wants to be first, he must make himself last of all and servant of all'. Mk 9,35.

Being chosen by Jesus was a great privilege, and yet the two sons of Zebedee, James and John, wanted to receive more favour from Jesus. Learning from the Capernaum's experience, the two brothers made their wish known directly to Jesus. They asked to sit next to Him in God's kingdom.

'Allow us to sit one at your right and the other at your left in your glory' Mk 10,37.

James and John would not take seriously Jesus' prophesy about his death on the cross, and three days later to rise again. If they had taken it seriously, they would not make such request. The other ten apostles were no be better, because they themselves were jealous of James and John. This tells us that adapting to a new way of life is not easy. Jesus helped the apostles to value the way of love by giving them another lesson. The first lesson was about humble service. The second lesson was about sacrifice. He told them,

'For the Son of Man himself did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many'. v.45.

The teaching implied, that ultimately true discipleship was to give glory to God, even at the cost of one's life. Jesus himself did it. He offered the two brothers to drink the cup, which He himself would drink, and to be baptised with the baptism, with which He himself would be baptised. The brothers took the offer, but had no idea what might happen to them.

Three times, Jesus prophesised His violent death. Three times meant many, but in Jesus' case three times meant certainty. Jesus' death would certainly happen. His opponents believed the way of the mind could destroy the way of the heart. One could submit to the pain inflicted upon a person, but not be sure of his or her inner life and heart. The whips could disfigure Jesus' physical body, but His love for humanity was unmoved. Being nailed on the cross, Jesus perfected His teaching, making the way of the heart even more prominent. Sacrifice and true love always go together. Jesus, the 'Suffering Servant', became the greatest amongst His disciples. Those who follow His way would not suffer in vain, but their very suffering makes the cross of Christ more powerful.

Jesus took the form of a slave to free us from the slavery of sin. He told us, His true disciples must make the common good available for others, not simply for oneself. That is the way of the heart.