Jesus is the model of determined and enthusiastic service. His true followers also serve to the end with determination and enthusiasm.
One can rebuke Zebedee’s sons for not understanding and for being ambitious. But we cannot accuse them of unwillingness, indecision or lack of enthusiasm.
In the first place, they show willingness by following Jesus right away after being called. They follow him even before hearing about the twelve thrones for those who will judge the twelve tribes of Israel.
In the second place, the “sons of thunder” seem to be more determined than Jesus. For they ask him if he wants them to call fire from heaven to consume the unwelcoming Samaritans.
In the third place, the brothers surely show enthusiasm. After all, they say they can drink Jesus’ cup and are ready for his baptism.
So then, James and John are willing to follow the Messiah. They are ready also to share in the sufferings of the one who will give back the kingdom to Israel. They will suffer with him with enthusiasm to reign with him later. And Jesus does not fail to recognize that these two apostles are willing, determined and enthusiastic.
Jesus just needs to lay out something new that one must seek with firm decision and great enthusiasm.
Both the brothers and those who are angry at them need another explanation. The earlier explanation, the one after the discussion on who among them was the greatest, apparently did not work. It did not stop the Zebedees from making their shameless and divisive request.
Rightly, then, does Jesus bring them together. He reminds them of the abuse of power on the part of rulers over the Gentiles that everyone knows about. Then he lays out before the Twelve the new thing he is doing. It is now springing forth, though those blinded by power and misunderstanding do not see it.
And Jesus wants this new thing to mark his followers: “It shall not be so among you.” That is to say, a distinctive mark of Christians is not the will to power, but the will to serve. It marks Christ himself, to the giving up of the body and the shedding of blood. That is why true Christians do not look for the first places. Better than taking such places is being at the right or left of the Suffering Servant on Calvary.
Do we live in a post-truth era and face awful abuses of power? Let us fill ourselves, then, with enthusiasm because of the opportunity before us to make a difference. By conforming to Jesus’ new model of authority. By living up to what we celebrate at the Eucharist, able to feel for the weak. “Come then …, let us devote ourselves with renewed love to serve persons who are poor” (SV.EN XI:349).
Lord Jesus, fill our hearts with enthusiasm to follow you in serving others.
21 October 2018
29th Sunday in O.T. (B)
Is 53, 10-11; Heb 4, 14-16; Mk 10, 35-45
Tags: A Vincentian reading of the Sunday readings, Ross Dizon