Reflection for Twenty-ninth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Indignant. Not a word we use with too much frequency, but we know the feeling when we experience it. The dictionary definition goes something. Along the lines of feeling, characterized by or expressing strong displeasure at something considered unjust, offensive, insulting or base. We know the experiences we attach to the word.
Indignant is how the other disciples reacted when they heard that James and John wanted to assure their place in Christ’s presence through eternity. But the, who wouldn’t? Their instinct, which apparently seemed to the other disciples to be base, was actually a natural desire. But Jesus levels the praying field for all the disciples, including the ones who were indignant, can you drink the cup that I drink? The desire of James and John to be first may have seemed unjust or misplaced, but it provided Jesus with the opportunity to teach those who want to be great in the eyes of God to make themselves the servant of others. In this way they would be following the example of their Master, Jesus, who came not to be served, but to serve.
The desire that James and John exhibited has been referred to by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as the Drum Major Instinct. King’s historic sermon, delivered on February, 1968, at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, was to become his own eulogy two months later. According to King’s thinking, at the core of James and John’s desire was a drum major instinct – a desire to be out front, a desire to lead the parade(King, The Drum Major, 170-171). Dr. King warns his congregation that this desire for importance can, in his words to snobbish exclusivist. King preached that when Jesus responded to the request by James and John, he did not rebuke them for their ambition , but taught all the disciples that greatness comes from humble servitude. As King put it, Jesus reordered priorities and told his disciples to Keep feeling the need for being first. But I want you to be first in love( ibid 181-182).
How easy it is for us to become indignant over what we believe to be injustices, all the time forgetting that Jesus taught us not to be concerned about who gets to be first, but whether or not we will sit in the presence of the Lord. We will be able to take this position if we have understood what it means to live a life in service to others. Making our authority felt, or having an air of superiority, is not a means to enter into the fullness of life in heaven. Drinking the cup of Christ in service to others is the way to the Kingdom. Only the devil would get indignant over that !
God bless you all !
Fr. Dominic
Your brother in Christ!

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