Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Our gospel today follows on from the third passion/resurrection prediction in Mark 10:32-34. In that light it is important to remember that Mark always depicts Jesus on the way to Jerusalem and the Cross. We need to read the two stories in today’s gospel in that light: the story of the Zebedee brothers’ desire for power, and Christ’s saying about true greatness. The long form contains both. The short form contains only the saying about being a servant and a slave. On the surface the story of the Zebedees is one of ambition and seeking power. But it quickly turns into a story of persecution and martyrdom, of suffering and cross, part of Mark’s description of the path of discipleship and true spiritual leadership. The true disciple/leader knows that spiritual greatness and humble self-sacrifice go together. The greatest is the least, the first is the last. Unfortunately, every time Jesus spoke about the Cross his disciples’ thoughts turned to glory. Did the Zebedees understand? Do we? Were they blind to Jesus’ paradox? The true disciple understands paradox. The true disciple also understands that genuine prayer changes us, makes us more like Christ. Are we ready to serve? Are we ready to take up our own cross and follow Jesus? Why are we shocked when people reject the faith community because they see hypocrisy and arrogance instead of gentleness and healing? It was ever so!