There must have been a sense of frustration that Jesus experienced. I can almost see myself wanting to give a smack right across the head of some of those apostles. Close on the heels of Jesus’ second passion prediction of his powerlessness before human beings (9:44) and Jesus’ instructions about taking up ones cross and following him (9:23-27) comes this narrative about the disciple’s quest for power. They want to know who will be the greatest amongst them; they jockey for key positions!

How can one be so preoccupied with selfishness in one’s lust for power? It’s like a life that’s slipping out of a human body, the body is still warm as life ebbs away and the relatives are hunting for the will. No wonder they say, where there is a will there are relatives! The irony is that these are the ‘relatives of Jesus’, these were his brothers. He has twice told them that he will be handed over to be killed and all they do is argue and jostle for posts and positions.

We may judge the twelve as much as we want but the truth is that we are but a shadow that pops out of the apostles; for their ambitions are ours.  Over and over again Jesus tries to get his disciples to see that they are called to serve, not to dominate. In the kingdom of God everyone is equal: there are no positions of power, no hierarchy.

Ironically, the titles that define our roles of service have now become titles of honour and power. The Pope is the servant of the servants of the people of God. The word Pontiff really indicates his task as ‘builder of bridges’. The same applies to a Cardinal which really indicates a role as ‘chief or essential.’ In figurative use, it pertains to a ‘hinge’, that on which something turns or depends.

Yet people grasp at greatness. So powerful is the desire to be great, or to own something that provides greatness that people are willing to compromise core values. We grasp at greatness. We desire “likes” on our Facebook page.

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