Two steps forward, one step back – Wednesday, 8th week in ordinary time – Mk 10:32-45
Nothing must have been more frustrating to Jesus than the ability of the twelve apostles to grasp his mind. Today we have no problem idolizing the apostles but a thorough re-reading of scripture from a purely non-sentimental perspective will most certainly make you ask yourself, “What was really wrong with the twelve?”
There was no method in the madness, so looking desperately for one, to salvage the tarnished image of the twelve won’t help. So here are the facts encompassing chapters eight to ten. Peter rebukes Jesus because no sooner was Peter given the keys of the kingdom than Jesus tells him of his own passion, suffering and death; In a flash, Peter saw a kingdom ‘taken’ from him. He does not want Jesus to undergo suffering not because his primary focus was on the Lord as much as he saw his position of power slipping away. Peter is rebuked for his self-serving desires.
In Chapter nine the apostles argue about who was the greatest and so Jesus has to instruct the twelve again on topic of servant hood (9:35-37). Finally in chapter ten James and John vie for positions of privilege on the left and right of Jesus in glory and this is no humble request for to quote them they approach Jesus and say, “ we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And so they have to be lectured long and hard on what servant leadership is all about (10:41-45). Through it all, Jesus is walking to Jerusalem, ‘ahead of them’ to his death whist teaching them that a disciple must be last of all and servant ( diakonos or one who waits at table) and slave ( doulos) of all. Ironically, there was nothing going into their head!
Even though the overall picture here is depressing, it is alarmingly familiar. Like the disciples we too take two steps forward and then one step back in our spiritual life. The cares of the world, if not the lure of power seem to be the stones on which we constantly trip on in our spiritual journey. Flashes of insight come, but a dark pattern of corrupting self-interest returns.
Like the disciples too we want to be assured of a place in the kingdom and foolishly put our foot in our mouth as we ask him stupid questions. Do you love me Lord? Is there a place for me in your kingdom? We forget he is walking to Jerusalem to die for us. Must the Lord always be explicit?
Fr Warner D’Souza
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