To give his life as ransom

February 9, 2015

Dear brothers and sisters,

The good news the beginning of this week is from Mark 10:41-45.

When the ten heard this, they became indignant at James and John. Jesus summoned them and said to them, “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. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all. For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

To me this teaching goes hand-in-hand with love one another. Jesus tells me how to love others — to be of service. Service is one thing, but to be a slave? To be a slave means to be the property of another, to be at another’s beck and call, to put his or her needs and desires above my own at all times, to deny myself. I never really thought about service in this way. Jesus wants me to be a slave, not a slave of another person but his slave. He wants me to serve others as he did even if it means denying myself.

As Moloney writes in The Gospel of Mark, “Jesus establishes service as the feature of Christian discipleship….Over against all the culturally accepted and expected ways of showing greatness and exercising authority, the disciple is to be the servant of all and the slave of all.” As always, Jesus is the model for me. Moloney goes on, “Jesus does not ask suffering and service from his disciples as a distant lawgiver. He, the Son of Man, leads the way….The disciple of Jesus, called to self-giving for the sake of Jesus and the Gospel and to the service of even the most lowly, is called to follow Jesus.”

It’s difficult for me to think about being a servant when I’m tired or not feeling well. It’s hard, tiresome work. At least it is if I make it that way, if I make it an obligation instead of an act of love. That’s the key. Jesus always acted out of love, the source of his power and authority, his love of God, his father. I try more and more to act from that same source of love. Fact of the matter is, I can’t do it otherwise. I can’t do it on my own; I can only do it by drawing on the strength of God’s love. I had an unusual experience after communion yesterday. When I knelt in the pew I started to thank God for the gift of His Son and I began to cry I was so overwhelmed with gratitude for that gift. I don’t recall every having that response before. To me that’s what Jesus meant when he said that he gave his life as a ransom many and that includes me. For that I am eternally grateful.



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