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Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Of authorities 
and positions

Jesus is on the way to Jerusalem. He has warned the disciples of the torture and death that awaits him in Jerusalem. We would expect, from the disciples, an attempt to dissuade him from traveling or a suggestion to stop for a moment.
 
Instead, the disciples continue to deceive themselves that he goes up to Jerusalem to begin the Messianic time, defined as the kingdom of this world. Their dreams of glory do not stop even in the face of death. This reveals just how deeply rooted in them the desire for power and the desire to take the places of honour were.
 
James and John, without a hint of discretion, say, “We want you to grant us what we are going to ask you!” They do not ask “please” but they demand, as one who claims a right. 
 
Christians who are exemplary, committed, available to serve the brethren, and actively participate in all the community initiatives, are often tempted to impose themselves on others and their naive desire to excel always ends up creating misunderstandings. 
 
When, among his disciples the claims of honours, privileges and first places re-emerged, Jesus did not show tenderness. He knew, every ambition, even what may seem innocent, calls into question the central point of his proposal. With James and John he was hard and severe, “You don’t know what you are asking.” 
 
The indignant reaction of the other ten shows how they too are far from having assimilated the thought of Jesus. Jesus takes the floor again to clarify the issue of hierarchies and the exercise of power within his community.
 
Jesus analyses the crisis of the current leadership to introduce the nature of leadership in the Christian community. The disciples know the political and religious leaders, rabbis, the scribes, and the priests of the temple. All exercise power in the same way: they give orders, claim privileges, and demand to be revered.
 
To his disciples, Jesus gives a clear and irrefutable order: “But it shall not be so among you!” None of these types of authority may be used as example. The model to imitate—he explains—is the slave, the one who occupies the lowest level in the society, the one to whom everyone is right to give orders, who is always attentive, day and night, to the wishes of his master. 
 
So whoever fulfills the role of leadership in the Christian community must consider all as his superiors, must feel himself or herself the least and the servant of all.
The stern message of Jesus is aimed not only at those who are invested with authority in the Church. Anyone who wants to follow Jesus has to be considered the “servant” of all.
 
 

• Father Fernando Armellini SCJ 
    Claretian Publications
 
https://sundaycommentaries.wordpress.com/2018/10/10/29th-sunday-in-ordinary-time-year-b-october-21-2018/
Translated by Father John Ladesma SDB
Abridged by Father Jijo Kandamkulathy CMF