By Jim Orcutt, Co-Founder of My Brother's Keeper

These personal reflections on the Monday gospel represent my insight of Christ’s message as viewed through the lens of my life experience. It is my hope that others will be inspired to reflect upon their views as well.
Date: March 4, 2015
March 4, 2015

Gospel MT 20:17-28

As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem,

he took the Twelve disciples aside by themselves,
and said to them on the way,
“Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem,
and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests
and the scribes,
and they will condemn him to death,
and hand him over to the Gentiles
to be mocked and scourged and crucified,
and he will be raised on the third day.”

Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee approached Jesus with her sons
and did him homage, wishing to ask him for something.
He said to her, “What do you wish?”
She answered him,
“Command that these two sons of mine sit,
one at your right and the other at your left, in your kingdom.”
Jesus said in reply,
“You do not know what you are asking.
Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?”
They said to him, “We can.”
He replied,
“My chalice you will indeed drink,
but to sit at my right and at my left,
this is not mine to give
but is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”
When the ten heard this,
they became indignant at the two brothers.
But Jesus summoned them and said,
“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them,
and the great ones make their authority over them felt.
But it shall not be so among you.
Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant;
whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.
Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve
and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Reflection:

I love the people in the gospel stories. It seems human nature has not changed in two thousand years. One has to smile at the nerve of a mom trying to secure prestigious placements for her two sons. I imagine Jesus’ reply, “You do not know what you are asking” was offered with an understanding twinkle in his eye. After all, his mother, Mary, was his strongest supporter too.

The remaining apostles, however, failed to see the humor in the situation and were indignant that James and John were trying to make a secret deal for prominent positions.

Although they had witnessed the widow putting her last two cents in the collection for someone poorer than herself (Luke 21:1-4) and the woman in the Pharisee’s house washing Jesus’ feet with her tears (Luke 7: 36-50), these examples of humble, self-sacrifice and service seem to have been lost on the apostles.

Sadly, even after spending nearly three years with Jesus, neither James, John, their mother or the other apostles seem to have learned that true joy comes from giving, not from receiving. Jesus’ reaction to this unseemly attempt of his apostles’ grasp for power is to tell them, “Whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant.”

Jesus himself was a living example of the “humble leader.” Though he was God, Jesus Christ arrived on earth as a helpless infant, born in a stable. As an adult he owned nothing, did not have a home and spent his entire life helping others.

Dom is one of my favorite examples of a modern-day, humble servant. Dom lives with his two dogs in a small, simple house. He doesn’t have an automobile, so he either takes the bus, walks or relies on getting a ride. Dom spends all his time serving at area food pantries. Each Thursday, Dom arrives at My Brother’s Keeper for Community Day. He volunteers in the kitchen, washing pots, pans and dishes, sweeping and washing the floor. He quietly does whatever needs doing.

Last Thursday, my food delivery route was in Dom’s neighborhood, so I offered him a ride home. Our third food delivery was to “Maria.” As we entered her home, Dom and Maria recognized each other with a warm greeting. Walking back to the van, I asked him how he happened to know Maria. He hesitated and then softly said, “I see her at the food kitchen where I volunteer down the street from here.”

“So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many are called, but few chosen.” Matthew 20:16



A suggestion: Ask yourselves this question.
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"Whatever you do for the most humble of my people, you do for me."
Matthew 25:40