Homily for the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B
Theme: Servant Leadership
By: Rev. Fr. Anthony O. EZEAPUTA, MA.
The request of James and John, “Grant that in your glory we may sit one at your right and the other at your left” (Mark 10:35-37) is effectively a request for a prominent leadership position in the new government that they anticipate Jesus, the Messiah, will establish shortly after his entry into Jerusalem. And in responding to their request, Jesus identified himself as the quintessential servant-leader. “For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). This is how Jesus defines himself and articulates the ultimate purpose of his life and mission. And he challenges us to learn from him how to serve.
To serve is to love with deeds rather than words. It entails paying the price—ransom—with our lives. It means promoting the other’s welfare. It is the polar opposite of self-serving and enslaving others, which are both manifestations of selfishness. There are numerous leadership models. Allow us to concentrate on the servant-leader model.
Servant leadership is defined as “a state of being rather than a state of doing.” By first learning to follow well, the servant-leader acquires “virtues” or “habits” (ways of being with and for others). These other-centered personal habits, which are the result of self-awareness and social consciousness, result in positive organizational behaviors. Furthermore, the servant-leader is, at heart, a servant. All of this begins with the innate desire to serve first. This deliberate choice compels individuals to pursue leadership positions. From this awareness, two desires emerge: a desire to serve others and a desire to serve a greater purpose or goal.
In saying, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not be so among you,” (Mark 10:42) Jesus reveals that being a gentle, kind, humane, and humble leader does not imply weakness. He is advocating for service over power, for persuasion over control, for team participation over individual performance, and for collaboration over competition.
Today, genuine leaders are in high demand. We live in an era in which leadership is viewed as a means of gaining power, authority, control, or dominance over others. However, Jesus demonstrates that leadership is an attitude and perspective toward oneself, others, and the meaning of life. “For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).
At the heart of the teaching of the Catholic Church are two sacraments that proclaim the primacy of love through action, not words: the Sacrament of Marriage and the Sacrament of Holy Orders. Marriage (matrimony) is a sacrament in which a man and a woman publicly commit to giving themselves to one another in a loving, faithful, and life-long relationship of service. By contrast, the Sacrament of Holy Orders is received by deacons, priests, and bishops who are called to the ministry of loving service. Their ministry is modeled after that of Jesus Christ, who was the following: Priest – offering himself in praise and thanksgiving to God and mediating God’s love through liturgical and everyday opportunities; Prophet – proclaiming God’s Word and promoting justice through liturgical and everyday opportunities. Servant-king – the servant leader who washed the disciples’ feet during the last supper and throughout his life.
Let us pray today for those who serve us in a variety of ways. Let us pray for those who serve as husbands, wives, parents, deacons, priests, and bishops in particular. May the Lord imbue them with the Good Shepherd’s heart and make them servant leaders. Amen.