Reflection Mark 10:35 – 45
When I was 11 years old the family got a telephone for the first time. I remember hurrying home from school and there it was sitting in all its glory big, black, and shiny and it was beckoning to me. This was my first experience of liberation. We lived 10 miles from the city and I felt isolated. Now I could ring and make arrangements to meet up with friends. This joy was almost equaled the day many years later, when I bought a phone that I could put into my pocket and then an IPad that I could carry in my bag. The companies who sold these devices made a lot of money but I was happy to part with some of mine for the possibilities they afforded to me. However, in just a few years I was puzzled by what I saw. The pocket phones got bigger, the IPads got smaller and gone were the convenience they offered when I first bought them. A few weeks ago I heard that Apple was getting ready to release its latest merchandise and I wondered what they could possibly have in mind. Then I heard it – the IWatch is going to get bigger! When are we going to get it?
This question came to mind when I read the Gospel for today 29th Sunday of the year Mark 10:35-45. The disciples are on the road to Jerusalem and Jesus is telling them what is going to happen,
‘The son of Man is about to be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes. They will condemn him to death and 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.’
Immediately after these deep, powerful and prophetic words, James and John ask Jesus if he will do them a favour. They ask for a cosy place in heaven.
‘Allow us to sit one at your right hand and the other at your left in your glory’.
The picture this little scene evokes is of James and John filtering out the enormity of what is going to happen. They seem sure, almost in a light-headed way, that they are keeping the right company but have misunderstood the implications of the ministry of the one who has walked beside them. Jesus is about to enter Jerusalem and confront the ‘temple based aristocracy’. He will suffer and die in this confrontation before the emergence of New Life. He is rejecting the authority of the temple and replacing it with a new type of authority; one that rejects high places and favours for friends.
‘Anyone who wants to become great among you, must be your servant and anyone who wants to be first among you must be a slave to all.’
He asks them if they are ready for this.
‘Can you drink the cup that I must drink? They replied, “We can.’
This seems to have brought them back to earth for now anyway. James and John accept this challenge not understanding the consequences. Later when Jesus is arrested they will not be so sure. Mark tells us later
‘All of the disciples deserted him and fled.’
If we were to ask a favour of Jesus what would it be? I know of many people who would offer a heartfelt request much less self-serving that that of James and John. yet receive a response that does not make sense. We really don’t get it. It might be good to call to mind the conclusion of a little girl in the States who was trying to figure it out. She said, ‘Jesus is king of an upside-down kingdom.
She gets it!
Sr. Kathleen Fitzsimons OP