Gospel Lesson for the 29 th Sunday in Ordinary Time: Mark 10:35-45
35 James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” 36 And he said to them, “What is it you want me to do for you?” 37 And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” 38 But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” 39 They replied, “We are able.” Then Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; 40 but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.”
41 When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. 42 So Jesus called them and said to them, “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. 43 But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. 45 For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
We don’t read the scriptures as they were intended to be read. The Gospel of Mark was written to be shared in its entirety in one sitting. When we break it up with a week in between we forget what story just preceded it. Last week Jesus tells them about his pending arrest and death. The disciples are amazed, and others are afraid.
What if James and John’s request is not out of self-aggrandizement but rather out of fear? In the secular world those who are next to the seat of power are protected by it. What if they were asking of Jesus would protect them?
I can relate to hoping that my faith will keep me and my family safe. I don’t assume that any more, but I did at one time. During our Fall Convocation Rev. Ruth Everhart addressed the subject by saying that sexual violence is random evil. Reciting the 23rd psalm and praying did not protect her. But in time her faith healed her.
Being close to Christ means we will follow a path of faithfulness and it will be filled with risks and dangers. But for us any other way is meaningless. God grant us the courage to live faithfully.