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Wednesday, 13 October 2021 12:04

Celebrating At Home - 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Servants, not masters

They’re at it again! One might be forgiven for wondering at just how slow the disciples are in getting Jesus’ message. For weeks he has been instructing them about the Kingdom of God and the conversion of heart needed to be his followers.

This Sunday’s Gospel episode shows that, yet again, they just don’t get it. This time it is James and John, who together with Peter form the ‘inner circle’, the group of disciples closest to Jesus. James and John are asking for the highest places of honour when Jesus comes into his ‘glory’.

While they understand that Jesus is the Messiah, they misunderstand what kind of Messiah he is and what kind of Kingdom he is bringing. While Jesus continues to talk about the path his own life will take through suffering, death and resurrection, the disciples are so focussed on themselves that they ignore his words.

Rather than brush aside the brash request of James and John, Jesus attempts to draw them deeper by hinting at the path of true discipleship. Using two biblical motifs, the cup (the fate that lies ahead of a person) and baptism (not the sacrament but the idea that undergoing trials and dangers is like passing through stormy, turbulent waters) Jesus asks if they can really commit to sharing his life and mission. Without hesitating they say, “We can,” and Jesus affirms that they will. But, as for the places of honour, these are for the Father to assign.

The other ten disciples have been standing nearby, eavesdropping on the conversation between Jesus, James and John. They are angry at hearing of their attempt to get in first and claim the seats of honour for themselves – no doubt, they would have liked to do the same!

Jesus takes the opportunity to tell them, yet again, that real greatness in the Kingdom of God lies in self-sacrificing service to humanity. Authority among the people of Christ is not to be exercised by ‘lording it over’ others or by using positions and capacities for self-serving ends. Authority is always to be at the service of and for the benefit of others. Disciples are called to be servants, not masters.

As we follow Jesus through the Gospel we see that his ‘authority’ over demons, illness and death, as well as his teaching, always brings liberation, restores health and wholeness and sets others at rights with God and neighbour. That is the pattern that he asks the disciples follow. The only way to enter into Jesus’ ‘glory’ is to follow him in self-sacrificing service of humanity, as one who gives up their life as a ransom for many.

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Celebrating at Home is a Liturgy of the Word centred around the Gospel reading for each Sunday. It includes a reflection on the Gospel and prayers.

It can be used personally or with your family. Parts for all to pray are given in bold print and all the other parts can be shared among those present.

We hope that Celebrating at Home will be a source of nourishment and strength for all who use it.

In the room you decide to use for this prayer you could have a lighted candle, a crucifix and the Bible. These symbols help keep us mindful of the sacredness of our time of prayer and can help us feel connected with our local worshipping communities.

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