A reflection on this Sunday’s Mass by Sr Kym Harris osb and downloaded from http://www.prayasyoucan.com.au
It is amazing how, in a fearful situation, people can be blinded by alternate concerns. Immediately before this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus had been clearly predicting his coming passion, death and resurrection. Hot on the heels of that momentous teaching, James and John, taking advantage of a moment alone with Jesus, try to manipulate him into giving them positions of power in the coming Kingdom. Jesus sees through them yet leads them on. With his mention of ‘cup’ and ‘baptism’ they should have realised that the game was up and they should back out now. But blindly they plough on and Jesus, taking advantage of this, promises them the ‘cup’ and ‘the baptism’ but not the power and authority they desire. Is this unfair? Not really because he, in his authority, can see the true nature of their needs and knows that the ‘cup’ and ‘baptism’ are what they will need to make them fit for authority.
But, at this point in time, their blindness makes them unfit for authority. They, and the other disciples, see the prestigious position as the place where they can lord it over others, telling them what to do. Jesus, in contrast, regards authority as the position where a person, seeing the bigger picture, and having access to greater resources, can be at the service of those in his or her authority. This type of authority does not make life easy for the one wielding it. Rather it is an extraordinary challenge. Called upon to juggle the disparate needs of the group with the limited resources at hand, the person in authority actually needs to use every bit of wit, creativity and sensitivity to respond appropriately to changing situations. Ask any good parent with adolescent children, any decent parish priest, what are the questions that haunt them in the night. Invariably it will be how they can adapt themselves to serve better the people they love. Truly such people are giving their lives in ransom for the ones in their care.