21st October, 2012 Readings: 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time
I. The sons of Zebedee make their request
When James and John asked Jesus to allow them to sit beside him, Jesus rebuked them as not knowing what they were asking for. Jesus saw through it that they were concerned with their status in the eyes of others. What they were mistaken was that no one should ask for recognition of status, but to earn it.
We see this humanly trait manifested often. Simple things like claiming credit for leading a group. Leading a group per se doesn’t grant recognition as of right. If we don’t deserve it, it is not our place to ask for it. One of the ways to earn it is by serving, in which we now turn to.
II. Leadership with service
Jesus tells us that anyone who wants to become great among people must be their servant. The son of man did not come to be served, but to serve. We should not impose our authority and ascendancy onto others.
The main thrust of the gospel has been drilled into us time and time again in schools – ‘Servant Leadership’ whatchamacallit. Leadership should be an unenviable position. Only those who do it for the right reasons deserve such recognition.
So, if you are called to serve next time, observe your first reaction to that call: are you willing to serve, or do you despise the idea of serving as a slave and not being recognized in the manner you expect?
However, does the Gospel preclude credit altogether? No. I would distinguish what is duly earned from what is underserved. One may still be deserving of credit or remuneration arising therefrom if one duly earns it. It becomes undeserved if it is not commensurate with or in excess of the service put in.
– Paul Yap