YEAR B: HOMILY/REFLECTION FOR THE 29TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
THEME: ON TOP OF THE SITUATION
BY: Fr. Christian Eze
First reading – Is 53:10-11
Second reading – Heb. 4:14-16
Gospel – Mk10:35-45
There seems to be an inert desire in every mortal man to be on top, to become in charge, influential, command respect, having subjects and to be served. At any rate, whether on top of a situation or on top of others, what we must always bear in mind is that we succeed to climb our desired heights only to find out there is yet another heights to climb.
In today’s gospel, James and his brother John, the sons of Zebedee approached Jesus to ask for the favour of what looked like a kind of promotion – “Allow us to sit one at your right hand and the other at your left in your glory” (Mk. 10:37). We remember that Jesus had once caught all of them arguing on who was the greatest – Mk 9:34. The mother of James and John is said to be related to the mother of Jesus. In fact, in Matthew’s account, we are told that they employed their mother for this very task – Matt. 20:20. It cannot be a strange thing, therefore, for them to use that, opportunity and attempt to achieve their aim of being the greatest.
But what is it all about the desire to be on top? Ambition in itself is not bad. Wishing to be in a leadership position is not bad, and working righteously to attain it is not also bad. Where I find problems is in the motive for such longings. If one’s motive to be on top is merely to make others a foot rest or carpets to be matched on, then such is dangerous and should be avoided. But if the motive is actually to be at the service of others, then it should be encouraged and sincere efforts must be put in to realize it. What we see today in the politics of Nigeria and the world everywhere would make us understand the point exactly. When we see how people would not mind killing in other to be on top, we cannot but understand that their motive of desiring to get there is not purified.
The exemplary life of Jesus makes us learn that the top position over others (it could be your status, married before your mates, have a good job, know people more, have children while your neighbor has none); any better position in which we find ourselves at any point, should be seen as an opportunity to be at the service of our brothers and sisters and never for any selfish end to the detriment of others. Jesus was high, there on top over everything else, yet He humbled himself to come down as a servant of all. Well put by St Paul “… He emptied Himself to assume the condition of a slave, and became as men are…” Phil. 2:5-11. Jesus our Lord and Master asks us to learn from Him “… the Son of Man who did not come to be served but to serve, and give his life as a ransom for many” – Mk10:45 Check the motive of your desire to get to that top. Check the motive of your desire to get that job. Is it actually to avail you for the service of God and humanity? Is there any element of selfish interest? Purify your intentions now.
Let us consider what the words of St James are. “You want something and you haven’t got it; … You have an ambition that you cannot satisfy… when you pray and you don’t get it, it is because you have not prayed properly, you have prayed for something to indulge your own desires – James 4:2-3. Hurting and confusing I know this may sound, but let us re-consider our motive in desiring to get to that top.