HOMILY FOR THE 29TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR B
THEME: “ANYONE WHO WANTS TO BECOME GREAT AMONG YOU MUST BE YOUR SERVANT”
BY: Fr Cajetan Anyanwu
HOMILY FOR SUNDAY OCTOBER 17 2021
This is the 29th Sunday in ordinary time. The meaning of leadership as intended by Jesus has eluded the world. We have also lost the meaning of, “Thy Kingdom Come” enshrined in the Lord’s prayer, “Our Father.” The time has come for us to reflect on the type of Kingdom Jesus wishes to establish among us. Three times, Jesus spoke to his disciples about the suffering, death and resurrection he was to undergo. The prophet Isaiah also alluded to it: “The Lord has been pleased to crush his servant with suffering. If he offers his life in atonement, he shall see his heirs, he shall have a long life” (Is. 53:10-11). This discuss about his suffering, death and departure from this life informed the request made by the sons of Zebedee, James and John (cf. Mk. 10:35-45). They completely misunderstood the nature of the new kingdom Jesus intended to establish. Their ignorance of this fact manifested itself in their request for political positions in the new kingdom. “Master, they said, we want you to do us a favor… Allow us to sit one at your right hand and the other at your left in your glory” (Mk. 10: 35-37). Jesus made it clear to them that they do not know what they were asking for. This applies also to those of us who are confused about what we ask from God. The kingdom Jesus intends to establish is not physical but spiritual. He told Pilate, “Mine is not a Kingdom of this world”(Jn.18).
In the gospel according to Matthew, the request was made by their mother. But Mark informs us that they made the request by themselves. It was a political maneuvering to curry favor ahead of the other ten apostles. This was why they became furious against the two brothers. James and John were asking for political positions that would elevate them above the others. They were not asking to be allowed to serve others in humility. They forgot that leadership is service and not an advantaged position of authority over the rest.
There was tension among the apostles and Jesus said to them, “You know that among the pagans their so-called rulers lord it over them, and their great men make their authority felt. This is not to happen among you… anyone who wants to become great among you must be your servant.” This is leadership with service. It is a lesson to world leaders today to be humble, honest and caring. There is nothing wrong with leadership genuinely acquired through due process in accordance with the law. It is wrong where there is power tussle and other corrupt practices. Leadership requires sacrifice. This is why Jesus sacrificed himself as a ransom for many. It is ridiculous that while Jesus was talking to his disciples about his suffering and death, they were thinking about power and authority. Let us think about serving others in humility. Happy Sunday.
Fr Cajetan Anyanwu