Homily from Sunday October 17th – 29th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

I suppose that James and John were not nicknamed elsewhere in the Gospel “Sons of Thunder” for nothing. These two ask, right in front of the other ten, to sit right beside Jesus when the time comes.

Jesus replies that his Kingdom is not about sitting – it is about standing: Can you, will you, stand by me, stand for me, and stand for what I am all about. And what is Jesus about? He’s about servant leadership perhaps a concept world’s apart from what we experience.

Leaders, of course, are essential. Power is necessary. Power moves and gets things done. But, to quote Lord Acton, all power eventually corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely – unless it is grounded in Christ.

The radical teachings of Christ are a deep spirituality to live by. That is, the more power I have the more respect I must show, the more service I must be willing to give, the more aware of others I must be. Servant leaders need to think communally, not selfishly.

Servant leaders need to humbly ask sometimes if they are part of the problem and can they deal with the question? Jesus says “You must drink of the cup that I will drink: In other words, you have to have entered at least one situation in your life where you were not in control, not in change, not right, not number one and see how you deal with that. If you can come through to the other side – still joyful, trustful and caring, then you’re on the right track.

The main requirement for having something to say about the Gospel is going through the mystery of death and then coming out on the other side better and more alive and more caring. Not just something you learn from books.

Now: back to James and John who wanted privilege, power and position without the cross

Did James and John and the others eventually get it?

(The Message) get to drink the cup Jesus drank? I think so. About 12 years after Jesus died; James was the 1st apostle to suffer martyrdom. Andrew was tied to a cross, Bartholomew was skinned alive, Peter was crucified upside down in Rome, and the list goes on.

Well, we don’t have to go that far but we do have to recognize that the gospel message clearly is that power and position are the other side of the servant leadership.

Once you actually experience the gospel, you can freely do what Jesus says: You don’t come to be served but to serve, nor to seek others to take care of you, but that you care for others the way Jesus so wonderfully care for us.

(Is this an example of Servant Leadership or something else?)

From a passenger ship one can see a bearded man on a small island, and he is shouting and desperately waving his hands. Who is it? A Passenger asks the Captain. I have no idea, but every year when we pass, he goes mad.

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