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Monday, August 19, 2013
Today’s Reading | Mark 10:35–45
James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And he said to them, “What is it you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They replied, “We are able.” Then 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 hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”
When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. So Jesus called them and said to them, “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.” (NRSV)
Mark Twain once said, regarding a critic, “I do not attend every argument to which I am invited.” Forbearance (a quality often underappreciated) is present here in Jesus’ reaction to James and John. It’s really present in a lot of his interaction with the disciples. I often think that, had I been Jesus, I would have spent so much time grabbing the disciples by the side of the head and shaking them that they would have been known throughout the land for the length of their ears.
“Make sure we sit closest to you.” And then, when the others hear about it, it becomes, “Why should you sit closest to him?” Of all the petty, stupid little things. And yet how often do we still hear about this person or that person acting like they think they are closest to God, that God whispers directly in their ear and we should do what they say? I can’t help thinking that these people are ripe for an ear-stretching.
Humility is also a quality often underappreciated. “For the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Position and status are moot. If the Son of God is saying, “What can I do for you?” how do any of us justify demanding anything of others? The thing about humility is, when you see it in practice, it is a humbling thing. When you see someone who has position and status humble themselves, how can you not do the same? The love of God is the greatest equalizer. For those with no power or status, it lifts them. For those who are very conscious of their position in the world, it brings them off their high horse and down to earth—usually by a firm tug on the ear. The love of God reminds us that we are all the same in the eyes of God, and the humility of that love reminds us that God is always right next to us.
Lord, please remind me that there is no one who is more loved than any other and no one who is loved less, that love is love for all. Amen.
Written by Rob Koon, Coordinator of Fine Arts
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