Welcome to the Cathedral Church of Saints Peter & Paul, Clifton.
 

Sunday 21st October 2018
Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
Isaiah 53: 10-11     Hebrews 4: 14-16     Mark 10: 35-45

I’m In Charge!

It’s a very human picture created by James and John who ask Jesus for a good job when the kingdom arrives. They had left everything to follow him and they were just hoping that they would be rewarded with a good seat on the board. The amusing picture of Church leaders fighting for the best positions is not that far from the truth; those who work in the Church are not freed from natural ambitions, and it’s not unheard of for politics and patronage to play a part in selecting people for roles of service and ministry.

But Jesus is very gentle in his reply. He realises that they don’t really know what they are asking of him. If they are to “drink the cup” that he must drink, they must be prepared to be crushed with suffering, to undergo all sorts of anguish and ultimately to give their lives in the service of the Gospel. Following Christ is no religious bed of roses. Its promise of eternal life comes via a path of suffering and service. We have no need to invent hardships for ourselves, since our Christian lives are not exempt from trials and difficulties.

However, what marks us out from those who do not believe is that we actively embrace our difficulties as part of God’s plan for salvation. This is not some kind of masochism that glories in pain and struggle, but it is the belief that through suffering of all description God is able to turn what looks like disaster into triumph. That’s exactly what he did with his Son. Another aspect of this is that we do not look for the same sense of recognition that the world seeks. Time and time again Jesus reminds us that we are in the world but not of it. He teaches us that our way of behaving must be radically different, springing from the Gospel. So if we have any pretensions about exercising authority, then it must be in a different style from that of the world’s leaders.

Making one’s authority ‘felt’ is alien to the Gospel, according to Jesus. Whatever role of authority we have must be seen in terms of service. If you are someone’s ‘boss’, then you will be judged on how well you make yourself their servant. This applies to how we bring up our children, how we teach our students, how we are with those at work and how we accept any leadership within the Church. If you want to be ‘in charge’ of people, you must become their slave. Jesus says that good leaders are those who put themselves out for others, not those who glory in their own power and authority. We all exercise authority on one level or another. The proof of the pudding is in how much people are allowed to grow and flourish when we are ‘in charge’.

 

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Scripture Reflections (below) © Peter J Harrison 2018