Reflection on Today’s Daily Readings by Fr. Bertrand Buby, SM
Scripture: May 26. Lectionary # 348. I Peter 1:18-25. Psalm
147:12-13,14-15, 19-20. Mark 10:32-45.
Are you a disciple of Jesus? If you are, you may wish to avoid Mark’s
Gospel for he makes the demands of discipleship more than the other
Gospels. The cost of discipleship is central to his “good news” and he
centers the call in what is known as the Gospel of the Cross. Yesterday
gave us a clear example of this in the great separations he demands of one
who follows Christ. It is a Gospel of renunciations. So be careful in
reading it and then applying it to yourself!
St. Peter who is said to have handed on much of the content in Mark’s
Gospel takes a beating in this Gospel from the inspired author. You may
wish to follow the passages that deal with Peter to discover this and then
apply it to yourself. Then maybe you may not wish to do this.
Jesus is constantly correcting, challenging, and confronting his disciples
in this shortest of the four gospels and the one that was written first
around 70 A.D. In an earlier chapter about the multiplication of the
loaves, Jesus gives such a tour de force with his questions to the
disciples that they probably were stunned. He chides them for their lack
of faith and ironically may be showing them how ignorant they really are.
Today’s excerpt gives us another example of their misunderstanding of their
call and of their master. James and John, “the sons of thunder”, seek to
have the choice places in the kingdom of God. Jesus has to take them to
task on such a request and reorients their theology by telling them that
such a position belongs to God’s choosing who is there. (Do they really
deserve it more than John the Baptist, St. Joseph, or the Mother of
Jesus?). Jesus then shows us what their role and disposition should be if
they are to be his disciples. The ones who wish to be the greatest must be
the servants of those who are not! Then Jesus probably has to help the
other ten because of their anger and jealousy. They were no better in
their perception about the kingdom than the two brothers.
Jesus can do this because whatever he asks of them he has already done and
given them the example. He will put it to them three times in the journey
to Jerusalem where he will suffer, die, and rise. This escapes their
comprehension and they are frightened about such a demand to follow such a
leader. Jesus offers his total self to doing the will of God in such a
humiliating fashion as their leader and their redeemer. His words are
meant for us too: Among you who aspires to greatness must serve the rest.
Whoever wants to rank first among you must serve the needs of all. The
Son of Man has not come to be served but to serve–to give his life in
ransom for many.
The last verse about giving one’s life refers to martyrdom and the “many”
echoes Isaiah 53:11-12. Jesus is the Suffering Servant of God and we are
called to be self-giving creative servants of his redeeming actions. This
is the cost of discipleship. Do you want to follow Jesus in the call to