Wednesday’s Gospel – 29th May 2024

Wednesday’s gospel –

It never sounds good does it when you say to God, “Do me a favour”!

James and John must have known what they were doing wasn’t right: they didn’t raise their ambitious intents with Jesus in a discussion with all of the Apostles, but we hear that they approached Jesus, who was presumably on his own. They also must have known that the naked ambition that they sought had nothing to do with the message that Jesus was making in his public ministry and in his private dealings with the Apostles and the wider group of disciples in which he sent out a message of service to others before personal gain, for what one gains from that is so much greater than personal endeavour.

Yet they asked anyway.

But we also here that the other ten were indignant with James and John. No doubt they were and if it were that those two have let themselves down and as a result, smeared the reputation of the Twelve, then it would be righteous, but, being frank about it, they were also annoyed and jealous that they sought to get in first and usurp their own ambitions.

None of them were thinking God’s way, but they were all thinking the way of the world. And Jesus has no time for this. Not only does he makes it abundantly clear they are to serve one another and their status derives from the extent to which they will sacrifice themselves for others, but he takes the opportunity to prepare them again for his own sacrifice: the sacrifice that will be for all people, of all time, for their salvation if they would just partake of his sacrifice and believe.

And that call for service applies to us too.

How many times do we expect favours from God because we are followers of Christ? How many times do we become jealous because those around us (both in the world and in a parish setting) seem to get positions of esteem before us, however much we think ourselves to be more worthy? How many times do we shun our responsibilities but expect to be rewarded anyway?

Yet we need to be clear. God’s thinking is not ours; he has a plan for those who would serve him and would take responsibility. Earthly values are immaterial. We only have to look at Pope Francis to see somebody who rejects the world’s thinking and was mostly unknown until he succeeded Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

But despite not having the world’s thinking, the world chooses to listen to the message of Francis wherever he goes (albeit with mixed reactions). We have to follow likewise: be humble of heart, serve others, witness to our faith and witness to the truth. We won’t influence everybody we meet, but we might just plant sufficient seed in good soil for there to be a rich harvest.

And if we do that, you never know where we might be seated in God’s kingdom!

Gospel Mark 10:32-45 ©

The disciples were on the road, going up to Jerusalem; Jesus was walking on ahead of them; they were in a daze, and those who followed were apprehensive. Once more taking the Twelve aside he began to tell them what was going to happen to him: ‘Now we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man is about to be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the pagans, who will mock him and spit at him and scourge him and put him to death; and after three days he will rise again.’

James and John, the sons of Zebedee, approached him. ‘Master,’ they said to him ‘we want you to do us a favour.’ He said to them, ‘What is it you want me to do for you?’ They said to him, ‘Allow us to sit one at your right hand and the other at your left in your glory.’ ‘You do not know what you are asking’ Jesus said to them. ‘Can you drink the cup that I must drink, or be baptised with the baptism with which I must be baptised?’ They replied, ‘We can.’ Jesus said to them, ‘The cup that I must drink you shall drink, and with the baptism with which I must be baptised you shall be baptised, but as for seats at my right hand or my left, these are not mine to grant; they belong to those to whom they have been allotted.’

When the other ten heard this they began to feel indignant with James and John, so Jesus called them to him and said to them, ‘You know that among the pagans their so-called rulers lord it over them, and their great men make their authority felt. This is not to happen among you. No; anyone who wants to become great among you must be your servant, and anyone who wants to be first among you must be slave to all. 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.’