29th Sunday Ordinary Time Year B
Readings: Isaiah 53:10-11; Hebrew 4:14-16; Mark 10:35-45
Crushed, afflicted and suffered for our justification. This Sunday the readings focus our attention on Christ the suffering servant, as the model of Christian leadership. In the first reading from Isaiah, the prophet sings about the suffering Servant who through his suffering, shall justify many, and bear their guilt. This weekend, as the Universal Church celebrates the canonization of seven saints among whom is St. Marianne of Molokai, we are given models of faith, trust and humble service to follow. Mother Marianne Cope left Syracuse where she would have lived comfortably and went to serve those others were afraid to serve. She risked her very life for those with Hansen’s disease at Molokai. Contrary to the ambition we find in the Gospel today, Mother Marianne was simply “hungry for the work.
The Gospel of today leads us to discover Christ’s example as a model self-giving leadership in the Church. By taking on himself the role of a servant and redeeming us by his own suffering and death, Christ has turned all human ambitions upside down. "Whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all. For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” One must be struck by the irony of James and John’s request because when the time came for them to take their place one of the right and the other on the left, they were no where to be seen at Calvary! Nevertheless, they too eventually would drink the cup of a martyr’s death. The true disciple therefore is the one who aspires to one thing only: sharing in the sufferings of the master. Though Mother Marianne did not die a martyr’s death, she had her own spiritual martyrdom of continuously serving those with Hansen’s disease and cleaning their wounds with joy. So what message do we take home? 1) We are challenged to model our leadership on the example of Christ, who “did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” 2) As we celebrate the canonization of St. Marianne of Molokai and six others, we are invited to imitate the examples of these holy men and women especially their selfless service to others; 3) Leaders at all levels of church life are challenged to assume a style of humble service to others, and of being always ready to drink the cup of suffering as Jesus did for us.
©2012 John S. Mbinda