Reflection by Rev. Leonard N. Peterson
Put simply, severe storms are thieves. They often rob us of our chief source of electrical power. Faster than a snap of the finger, our well-outfitted homes go dark. Everything from lamps to lasers grow dark. We turn to our flashlights and phones, hoping that their batteries last. We quickly calculate ways to manage our refrigerated foodstuffs. In summer, the air conditioner will be sorely missed. In winter, same for the heater.
The unnamed theme of this section from Mark’s gospel is all about power of a different species. In a world lit only by fire, two of Our Lord’s chosen followers named James and John did not know anything about something called “electricity.” But they well knew about “power.” It was something derived from your position in society, either inherited, or part of one’s class. Of course, it could be seized through success in battle. Or maybe gained by being in the right place at the right time and asking the right person. The sons of Zebedee foolishly chose the third tactic. What they caused was instead a prediction from Jesus, and targeted anger from their 10 peers. It was a bad move on their part. But it occasioned one of those frequent happenings in the Gospels that we call “teachable moments.”
Of course, reading or hearing of this incident might touch off a reaction in us that would sound something like this: “I’m glad I’m not power hungry!” But may I suggest that you’re only kidding yourself? You sought power when you were only 2 years old and said “No” to Mom or Dad or somebody else your superior in age and ability. From there it was all downhill. Later, you saw others get power and you wanted your share.
So you plotted and schemed, and maybe you were successful. Your skills morphed from toy getting to top gaining. You rose in rank, and it felt good for awhile. You may have accumulated all the marks of material success. But God got lost in the strivings and the stretchings of your ambition. Then one day you awoke to the fact that it all means nothing in the long run.
When Jesus told His two former fishermen that giving high position in heaven is “for those for whom it has been prepared” He was talking about God the Father. We may call Him for our purposes, “The Great Preparer.”
My guess is that the real lesson being taught here is that a personal outlook for all Christians should be one of giving service to others. Not “being served,” which betokens power. If you think about it, serving others is all the power we need to reach our ultimate destination. In the meantime, here is a bit of wisdom to ponder: “It may be well to stand tall in this life, but heaven is entered only on the knees.”
God love you and give you His peace.
Reading I: Isaiah 53: 10-11
Although the Servant in this prophet’s writings never enjoyed victory in his lifetime, nevertheless the prophet declares it here. The word “pleased” is key, expressing that God’s designs will be fulfilled in the future. (We know they will occur through Jesus.)
Reading II: Hebrews 4: 14-16
Jesus is superior to the Jewish high priest. One reason is that He never succumbed to His temptations. As a result, we can approach the throne of grace (God’s) with confidence because of Jesus’ redemptive work.
The Gospel: Mark 10: 35-45, or 10: 42-45
This incident shows us the obtuseness of the disciples regarding Jesus’ preaching about God’s kingdom. They will learn that Jesus’ suffering will have consequences for their discipleship.