NONE OF THAT AMONG US
While they’re going up to Jerusalem, Jesus keeps announcing to his disciples the painful destiny awaiting him in the capital. His disciples don’t understand him. They go on disputing among themselves about the top seats. James and John, among the first disciples, come up to ask him directly about one day sitting «one at your right hand and the other at your left».
Jesus appears discouraged: «You do not know what you are asking». No one in the group seems to understand that closely following him, working with him on his project, will always be a path not of power and greatness, but of sacrifice and cross.
Meanwhile, when the other ten find out about James’ and John’s insolence, they get mad. The group is more agitated than ever. Ambition is dividing them. Jesus gets them all together to make his thinking clear.
Above all he lays out what happens among the peoples in the Roman Empire. Everyone knows the abuses of Antipas and the Herodian families in Galilee. Jesus sums it up this way: those recognized as leaders use their power to «lord it over» the peoples, and the great ones do nothing but «make their authority felt» over their subjects. Jesus couldn’t be more emphatic: «Among you, none of that».
He doesn’t want to see anything like that among his own: «Anyone who wants to become great among you must be your servant, and anyone who wants to be first among you must be slave of all». In his community there’s no place for power that oppresses, only for service that helps. Jesus doesn’t want leaders seated on his right and left, but servants like him who give their lives for the rest.
Jesus makes things clear. His Church isn’t built on the imposition of those from above, but on the service of those who are seated below. No hierarchy of any kind based on honor or dominion fits in her. Nor methods and strategies of power. It’s service that builds up Jesus’ Church.
Jesus give so much importance to what he’s saying that he gives himself as an example, since he hasn’t come to the world to demand that they serve him, but «to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many». Jesus doesn’t teach anyone to triumph in the Church, but to serve the project of God’s reign, to do one’s utmost for the weakest and for those most in need.
Jesus’ teaching isn’t just for the leaders. From the perspective of different tasks and responsibilities, we all need to commit ourselves to live more given to the service of his project. In the Church we don’t need imitators of James and John, but faithful followers of Jesus. Those who want to be important, let them start to work and collaborate.
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf