In this Sunday’s Gospel we listen to Saint Mark’s account of the Galilean ministry of Jesus. On leaving the mountain having preached the good news of the kingdom of God along the way, Jesus takes some quiet time away from his public ministry to teach the disciples as they travel the road with him. He tells them:
“The Son of Man will be delivered into the hands of men; they will put him to death; and three days after he has been put to death he will rise again”.
The disciples are confused by this direct teaching of Jesus as he describes his passion, ensuing death and resurrection to them in advance – they fail to understand that the Christ would suffer, be put to death and rise again on the third day.
When they arrive at Capernaum and are inside the house, however, he asks them: “What were you arguing about on the road?” The disciples remain silent though, preferring not to explain to Jesus how they were arguing amongst themselves as to who was the greatest. Then he assembles them together and teaches them:
“If anyone wants to be first, he must make himself last of all and servant of all. Anyone who welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and anyone who welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me”.
Jesus became ‘servant of all’ as he obeyed the Father and died on the Cross ‘not my will, but your will be done’. In the Eucharist, the memorial of his death and resurrection, we receive the bread of life and his unconditional love which enables us in turn become ‘servants to others’ on our own walk of faith.
As Pope Benedict XVI said last weekend during his apostolic visit to Lebanon:-
“By telling his disciples that he must suffer and be put to death, and then rise again, Jesus wants to make them understand that he is the Servant who obeys his Father’s will, even to giving up his life…anyone who would be his disciple must become a servant, just as he became Servant.
The path on which Jesus wishes to guide us is a path of hope for all. His glory was revealed at the very time when, in his humanity, he seemed weakest, particularly through the incarnation and on the cross. This is how God shows his love; he becomes our servant and gives himself to us. Choosing to walk in the footsteps of Jesus Christ requires drawing ever closer to him, attentively listening to his word and drawing from it the inspiration for all that we do. Service must also be at the heart of the life of the Christian community itself, serving the poor, the outcast and the suffering. Christ the Servant wished to be close to the suffering.”
(P M 2012)