NOT TO BE SERVED, BUT TO SERVE
“…And when the ten heard it, they were indignant at the two brothers. But Jesus called them to him and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave; even as the Son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mt 20: 26-28)
The ten disciples are “indignant” at the two brothers, James and John, because their mother has just asked Jesus that her sons be given the primary two positions in His “kingdom.” And the ten disciples are “indignant” for the wrong reason; not because the mother’s request is outrageous, in light of everything Christ had been teaching these men about His “way,” the Way of the Cross, but because they themselves, the ten, were also interested in those “top” positions.
So, once again, our Lord tries to turn their merely-human ambitions upside-down, pointing out to them (and all of us) His way, the better Way, of seeking “not to be served but to serve.” I need not be “indignant” at others, for seeking to be “over” or “ahead” of me in this world, He’s telling me in this passage today. Nor do I myself need to be scrambling to get “over” others, so that they pay more attention to me, or “serve” me in some other way. I need not ask pointless questions, like, Why “didn’t” he/she do this or that, for me, or say this or that, or respond in the way he/she did? I can have more peace today, by God’s grace, if I choose to embrace His way, the cross-carrying way of self-offering. “O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.” Amen!