Cycle (B) 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time

 Is 53:10-11; Heb 4:14-16; Mk 10:35-45

 Todays Gospel places before us two beautiful themes. The trust and confidence of James and John, the sons of Zabedee, in the glory of Jesus and the teaching of Jesus to be practiced in his kingdom to attain glory.

 James and John, the sons of Zabedee, approached Jesus with a request: "Master, allow us to sit one at your right hand and the other at your left in your glory. James and John witnessed many times the opposition that Jesus faced from the religious leaders; they experienced the bitterness of the clergy against Jesus; they sensed the dangers that awaited Jesus on his way ahead; in spite of them all they could still connect glory with a Galilean carpenter. This is an amazing confidence and loyalty.

The challenges James and John had continued to be the challenges of every Christian in every age, but they made their appearance in their contemporary forms – like challenges of dogmas, challenges raised by philosophies,

challenges caused by political systems, challenges by attitudes and so on.  The confidence of James and John in the Ultimate Triumph of Jesus should inspire us also to aspire for greatness.


This passage also tells us about the standard of Greatness in the Kingdom of Jesus when Jesus places before us the concept of the servant leader. In the kingdom of Jesus the standard was that of service. Greatness consisted, not in reducing other men to one’s service, but in reducing oneself to their service.


Hannibal Barca was a military commander of the Carthage army in 247 BC. He led a famous campaign in the second Punic War against the Roman army, remaining undefeated until the very gates of Rome. His most famous military accomplishment was the battle of Cannae, where he defeated a Roman army size double of his. What was the secret of his success?  He was a man who led by example. He would sleep among his soldiers and would not wear anything that made him distinct above his soldiers. He would lead the armies into battle and be the last to leave the battlefield. Even today he stands as a model for leadership.


Ernest Shackleton is another great example of a servant leader. He was an early 20th century explorer whose ship was crushed in Antarctic ice. After countless brushes with death, including an 800-mile journey in open boats across the winter Antarctic seas, Shackleton brought every one of his 27 crew members home alive. It took two years, but his sense of responsibility toward his men never wavered. One of the many tactics he used to serve his men was to share sleeping quarters with those who were most disgruntled instead of his favourite people to be around. These leaders put the needs of the people they lead ahead of their own. So they became great.


Kipling has a poem called "Mary's Son" which is advice on the spirit in which a man must work.

If you stop to find out what your wages will be
And how they will clothe and feed you,
Willie, my son, don't you go on the Sea.
For the Sea will never need you.

If you ask for the reason of every command,
And argue with people about you,
Willie, my son, don't you go on the Land,
For the Land will do better without you.

If you stop to consider the work you have done
And to boast what your labour is worth, dear,
Angels may come for you, Willie, my son,
But you'll never be wanted on Earth, dear!


Jesus told his disciples plainly what his mission was, how he was going to accomplish it and what should be the criteria of greatness among his disciples. He summarized his mission in one sentence: "The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." According to Jesus, greatness consists not in what we have, nor in what we can get from others but in what do we give to others. Jesus thus overturned all our values, teaching us that true greatness consists in loving, humble, and sacrificial service. For Jesus, true service means putting our gifts at the disposal of others. For our contemporaries Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Mother Teresa, greatness lay in the giving of their whole self to the very lowest, treating them as brothers and sisters and living close to them.


This is the lesson that the church places before us today. This is the lesson that the Saints have put into practice, and achieved greatness. This is the lesson that the world expects from the followers of Jesus. This is the only lesson that can take us to greatness. In order to achieve this genuine greatness we should have confidence in ourselves. James and John expressed that confidence when they requested Jesus to grand a place to them on his right and left.


When the kingdoms of the earth consider greatness as power, in the kingdom of Jesus, greatness is gained by service. Today the world needs people whose ideal is service. Let us be among them. May God Bless us.